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- Solving a 50 year mystery of a missing OPA1 mutation: more insights from the first family diagnosed with autosomal dominant optic atrophy (2010)
- Background: Up to the 1950s, there was an ongoing debate about the diversity of hereditary optic neuropathies, in particular as to whether all inherited optic atrophies can be ascribed to Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) or represent different disease entities. In 1954 W. Jaeger published a detailed clinical and genealogical investigation of a large family with explicit autosomal dominant segregation of optic atrophy thus proving the existence of a discrete disease different from LHON, which is nowadays known as autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA). Since the year 2000 ADOA is associated with genomic mutations in the OPA1 gene, which codes for a protein that is imported into mitochondria where it is required for mitochondrial fusion. Interestingly enough, the underlying mutation in this family has not been identified since then. Results: We have reinvestigated this family with the aim to identify the mutation and to further clarify the underlying pathomechanism. Patients showed a classical non-syndromic ADOA. The long term deterioration in vision in the two teenagers examined 50 years later is of particular note 5/20 to 6/120. Multiplex ligation probe amplification revealed a duplication of the OPA1 exons 7-9 which was confirmed by long distance PCR and cDNA analysis, resulting in an in-frame duplication of 102 amino acids. Segregation was verified in 53 available members of the updated pedigree and a penetrance of 88% was calculated. Fibroblast cultures from skin biopsies were established to assess the mitochondrial network integrity and to qualitatively and quantitatively study the consequences of the mutation on transcript and protein level. Fibroblast cultures demonstrated a fragmented mitochondrial network. Processing of the OPA1 protein was altered. There was no correlation of the OPA1 transcript levels and the OPA1 protein levels in the fibroblasts. Intriguingly an overall decrease of mitochondrial proteins was observed in patients' fibroblasts, while the OPA1 transcript levels were elevated. Conclusions: The thorough study of this family provides a detailed clinical picture accompanied by a molecular investigation of patients' fibroblasts. Our data show a classic OPA1-associated non-syndromic ADOA segregating in this family. Cell biological findings suggest that OPA1 is regulated by post-translational mechanisms and we would like to hypothesize that loss of OPA1 function might lead to impaired mitochondrial quality control. With the clinical, genetic and cell biological characterisation of a family described already more than 50 years ago, we span more than half a century of research in optic neuropathies.
- Restriction of trophic factors and nutrients induces PARKIN expression (2011)
- Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most frequent neurodegenerative movement disorder and manifests at old age. While many details of its pathogenesis remain to be elucidated, in particular the protein and mitochondrial quality control during stress responses have been implicated in monogenic PD variants. Especially the mitochondrial kinase PINK1 and the ubiquitin ligase PARKIN are known to cooperate in autophagy after mitochondrial damage. As autophagy is also induced by loss of trophic signaling and PINK1 gene expression is modulated after deprivation of cytokines, we analyzed to what extent trophic signals and starvation stress regulate PINK1 and PARKIN expression. Time course experiments with serum deprivation and nutrient starvation of human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells and primary mouse neurons demonstrated phasic induction of PINK1 transcript up to twofold and PARKIN transcript levels up to sixfold. The corresponding threefold starvation induction of PARKIN protein was limited by its translocation to lysosomes. Analysis of primary mouse cells from PINK1-knockout mice indicated that PARKIN induction and lysosomal translocation occurred independent of PINK1. Suppression of the PI3K-Akt-mTOR signaling by pharmacological agents modulated PARKIN expression accordingly. In conclusion, this expression survey demonstrates that PARKIN and PINK1 are coregulated during starvation and suggest a role of both PD genes in response to trophic signals and starvation stress.
- Striatal dopamine transmission is subtly modified in human A53Tα-synuclein overexpressing mice (2012)
- Mutations in, or elevated dosage of, SNCA, the gene for α-synuclein (α-syn), cause familial Parkinson's disease (PD). Mouse lines overexpressing the mutant human A53Tα-syn may represent a model of early PD. They display progressive motor deficits, abnormal cellular accumulation of α-syn, and deficits in dopamine-dependent corticostriatal plasticity, which, in the absence of overt nigrostriatal degeneration, suggest there are age-related deficits in striatal dopamine (DA) signalling. In addition A53Tα-syn overexpression in cultured rodent neurons has been reported to inhibit transmitter release. Therefore here we have characterized for the first time DA release in the striatum of mice overexpressing human A53Tα-syn, and explored whether A53Tα-syn overexpression causes deficits in the release of DA. We used fast-scan cyclic voltammetry to detect DA release at carbon-fibre microelectrodes in acute striatal slices from two different lines of A53Tα-syn-overexpressing mice, at up to 24 months. In A53Tα-syn overexpressors, mean DA release evoked by a single stimulus pulse was not different from wild-types, in either dorsal striatum or nucleus accumbens. However the frequency responsiveness of DA release was slightly modified in A53Tα-syn overexpressors, and in particular showed slight deficiency when the confounding effects of striatal ACh acting at presynaptic nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) were antagonized. The re-release of DA was unmodified after single-pulse stimuli, but after prolonged stimulation trains, A53Tα-syn overexpressors showed enhanced recovery of DA release at old age, in keeping with elevated striatal DA content. In summary, A53Tα-syn overexpression in mice causes subtle changes in the regulation of DA release in the striatum. While modest, these modifications may indicate or contribute to striatal dysfunction.
- ATXN2 and its neighbouring gene SH2B3 are associated with increased ALS risk in the turkish population (2012)
- Expansions of the polyglutamine (polyQ) domain (≥34) in Ataxin-2 (ATXN2) are the primary cause of spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2). Recent studies reported that intermediate-length (27–33) expansions increase the risk of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in 1–4% of cases in diverse populations. This study investigates the Turkish population with respect to ALS risk, genotyping 158 sporadic, 78 familial patients and 420 neurologically healthy controls. We re-assessed the effect of ATXN2 expansions and extended the analysis for the first time to cover the ATXN2 locus with 18 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) and their haplotypes. In accordance with other studies, our results confirmed that 31–32 polyQ repeats in the ATXN2 gene are associated with risk of developing ALS in 1.7% of the Turkish ALS cohort (p = 0.0172). Additionally, a significant association of a 136 kb haplotype block across the ATXN2 and SH2B3 genes was found in 19.4% of a subset of our ALS cohort and in 10.1% of the controls (p = 0.0057, OR: 2.23). ATXN2 and SH2B3 encode proteins that both interact with growth receptor tyrosine kinases. Our novel observations suggest that genotyping of SNPs at this locus may be useful for the study of ALS risk in a high percentage of individuals and that ATXN2 and SH2B3 variants may interact in modulating the disease pathway.
- ATXN2-CAG42 sequesters PABPC1 into insolubility and induces FBXW8 in cerebellum of old ataxic knock-in mice (2012)
- Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 2 (SCA2) is caused by expansion of a polyglutamine encoding triplet repeat in the human ATXN2 gene beyond (CAG)31. This is thought to mediate toxic gain-of-function by protein aggregation and to affect RNA processing, resulting in degenerative processes affecting preferentially cerebellar neurons. As a faithful animal model, we generated a knock-in mouse replacing the single CAG of murine Atxn2 with CAG42, a frequent patient genotype. This expansion size was inherited stably. The mice showed phenotypes with reduced weight and later motor incoordination. Although brain Atxn2 mRNA became elevated, soluble ATXN2 protein levels diminished over time, which might explain partial loss-of-function effects. Deficits in soluble ATXN2 protein correlated with the appearance of insoluble ATXN2, a progressive feature in cerebellum possibly reflecting toxic gains-of-function. Since in vitro ATXN2 overexpression was known to reduce levels of its protein interactor PABPC1, we studied expansion effects on PABPC1. In cortex, PABPC1 transcript and soluble and insoluble protein levels were increased. In the more vulnerable cerebellum, the progressive insolubility of PABPC1 was accompanied by decreased soluble protein levels, with PABPC1 mRNA showing no compensatory increase. The sequestration of PABPC1 into insolubility by ATXN2 function gains was validated in human cell culture. To understand consequences on mRNA processing, transcriptome profiles at medium and old age in three different tissues were studied and demonstrated a selective induction of Fbxw8 in the old cerebellum. Fbxw8 is encoded next to the Atxn2 locus and was shown in vitro to decrease the level of expanded insoluble ATXN2 protein. In conclusion, our data support the concept that expanded ATXN2 undergoes progressive insolubility and affects PABPC1 by a toxic gain-of-function mechanism with tissuespecific effects, which may be partially alleviated by the induction of FBXW8.
- A53T-alpha-synuclein overexpression impairs dopamine signaling and striatal synaptic plasticity in old mice (2010)
- BACKGROUND: Parkinson's disease (PD), the second most frequent neurodegenerative disorder at old age, can be caused by elevated expression or the A53T missense mutation of the presynaptic protein alpha-synuclein (SNCA). PD is characterized pathologically by the preferential vulnerability of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal projection neurons. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here, we used two mouse lines overexpressing human A53T-SNCA and studied striatal dysfunction in the absence of neurodegeneration to understand early disease mechanisms. To characterize the progression, we employed young adult as well as old mice. Analysis of striatal neurotransmitter content demonstrated that dopamine (DA) levels correlated directly with the level of expression of SNCA, an observation also made in SNCA-deficient (knockout, KO) mice. However, the elevated DA levels in the striatum of old A53T-SNCA overexpressing mice may not be transmitted appropriately, in view of three observations. First, a transcriptional downregulation of the extraneural DA degradation enzyme catechol-ortho-methytransferase (COMT) was found. Second, an upregulation of DA receptors was detected by immunoblots and autoradiography. Third, extensive transcriptome studies via microarrays and quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qPCR) of altered transcript levels of the DA-inducible genes Atf2, Cb1, Freq, Homer1 and Pde7b indicated a progressive and genotype-dependent reduction in the postsynaptic DA response. As a functional consequence, long term depression (LTD) was absent in corticostriatal slices from old transgenic mice. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Taken together, the dysfunctional neurotransmission and impaired synaptic plasticity seen in the A53T-SNCA overexpressing mice reflect early changes within the basal ganglia prior to frank neurodegeneration. As a model of preclinical stages of PD, such insights may help to develop neuroprotective therapeutic approaches.
- The role of glyoxalases for sugar stress and aging, with relevance for dyskinesia, anxiety, dementia and Parkinson's disease (2011)
- Commentary on: Scheckhuber CQ et al. Modulation of the glyoxalase system in the aging model Podospora anserina: effects on growth and lifespan. Aging. 2010; 2: 969-980.
- Dysregulated expression of lipid storage and membrane dynamics factors in Tia1 knockout mouse nervous tissue (2014)
- During cell stress, the transcription and translation of immediate early genes are prioritized, while most other messenger RNAs (mRNAs) are stored away in stress granules or degraded in processing bodies (P-bodies). TIA-1 is an mRNA-binding protein that needs to translocate from the nucleus to seed the formation of stress granules in the cytoplasm. Because other stress granule components such as TDP-43, FUS, ATXN2, SMN, MAPT, HNRNPA2B1, and HNRNPA1 are crucial for the motor neuron diseases amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)/spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and for the frontotemporal dementia (FTD), here we studied mouse nervous tissue to identify mRNAs with selective dependence on Tia1 deletion. Transcriptome profiling with oligonucleotide microarrays in comparison of spinal cord and cerebellum, together with independent validation in quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR and immunoblots demonstrated several strong and consistent dysregulations. In agreement with previously reported TIA1 knock down effects, cell cycle and apoptosis regulators were affected markedly with expression changes up to +2-fold, exhibiting increased levels for Cdkn1a, Ccnf, and Tprkb vs. decreased levels for Bid and Inca1 transcripts. Novel and surprisingly strong expression alterations were detected for fat storage and membrane trafficking factors, with prominent +3-fold upregulations of Plin4, Wdfy1, Tbc1d24, and Pnpla2 vs. a −2.4-fold downregulation of Cntn4 transcript, encoding an axonal membrane adhesion factor with established haploinsufficiency. In comparison, subtle effects on the RNA processing machinery included up to 1.2-fold upregulations of Dcp1b and Tial1. The effect on lipid dynamics factors is noteworthy, since also the gene deletion of Tardbp (encoding TDP-43) and Atxn2 led to fat metabolism phenotypes in mouse. In conclusion, genetic ablation of the stress granule nucleator TIA-1 has a novel major effect on mRNAs encoding lipid homeostasis factors in the brain, similar to the fasting effect.
- Ataxin-2 Modulates the Levels of Grb2 and Src but Not Ras Signaling (2013)
- Ataxin-2 (ATXN2) is implicated mainly in mRNA processing. Some ATXN2 associates with receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK), inhibiting their endocytic internalization through interaction of proline-rich domains (PRD) in ATXN2 with SH3 motifs in Src. Gain of function of ATXN2 leads to neuronal atrophy in the diseases spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Conversely, ATXN2 knockout (KO) mice show hypertrophy and insulin resistance. To elucidate the influence of ATXN2 on trophic regulation, we surveyed interactions of ATXN2 with SH3 motifs from numerous proteins and observed a novel interaction with Grb2. Direct binding in glutathione S-transferase (GST) pull-down assays and coimmunoprecipitation of the endogenous proteins indicated a physiologically relevant association. In SCA2 patient fibroblasts, Grb2 more than Src protein levels were diminished, with an upregulation of both transcripts suggesting enhanced protein turnover. In KO mouse embryonal fibroblasts (MEF), the protein levels of Grb2 and Src were decreased. ATXN2 absence by itself was insufficient to significantly change Grb2-dependent signaling for endogenous Ras levels, Ras-GTP levels, and kinetics as well as MEK1 phosphorylation, suggesting that other factors compensate for proliferation control. In KO tissue with postmitotic neurons, a significant decrease of Src protein levels is prominent rather than Grb2. ATXN2 mutations modulate the levels of several components of the RTK endocytosis complex and may thus contribute to alter cell proliferation as well as translation and growth.
- Parkinson phenotype in aged PINK1-deficient mice is accompanied by progressive mitochondrial dysfunction in absence of neurodegeneration (2009)
- Background Parkinson's disease (PD) is an adult-onset movement disorder of largely unknown etiology. We have previously shown that loss-of-function mutations of the mitochondrial protein kinase PINK1 (PTEN induced putative kinase 1) cause the recessive PARK6 variant of PD. Methodology/Principal Findings Now we generated a PINK1 deficient mouse and observed several novel phenotypes: A progressive reduction of weight and of locomotor activity selectively for spontaneous movements occurred at old age. As in PD, abnormal dopamine levels in the aged nigrostriatal projection accompanied the reduced movements. Possibly in line with the PARK6 syndrome but in contrast to sporadic PD, a reduced lifespan, dysfunction of brainstem and sympathetic nerves, visible aggregates of alpha-synuclein within Lewy bodies or nigrostriatal neurodegeneration were not present in aged PINK1-deficient mice. However, we demonstrate PINK1 mutant mice to exhibit a progressive reduction in mitochondrial preprotein import correlating with defects of core mitochondrial functions like ATP-generation and respiration. In contrast to the strong effect of PINK1 on mitochondrial dynamics in Drosophila melanogaster and in spite of reduced expression of fission factor Mtp18, we show reduced fission and increased aggregation of mitochondria only under stress in PINK1-deficient mouse neurons. Conclusion Thus, aging Pink1 -/- mice show increasing mitochondrial dysfunction resulting in impaired neural activity similar to PD, in absence of overt neuronal death.