Obesity increases sympathetic nerve activity (SNA) via activation of proopiomelanocortin neurons in the arcuate nucleus (ArcN), and this action requires simultaneous withdrawal of tonic neuropeptide Y (NPY) sympathoinhibition. However, the sites and neurocircuitry by which NPY decreases SNA are unclear. Here, using designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) to selectively activate or inhibit ArcN NPY neurons expressing agouti-related peptide (AgRP) in mice, we have demonstrated that this neuronal population tonically suppresses splanchnic SNA (SSNA), arterial pressure, and heart rate via projections to the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH). First, we found that ArcN NPY/AgRP fibers closely appose PVN and DMH presympathetic neurons. Second, nanoinjections of NPY or an NPY receptor Y1 (NPY1R) antagonist into PVN or DMH decreased or increased SSNA, respectively. Third, blockade of DMH NPY1R reversed the sympathoinhibition elicited by selective, DREADD-mediated activation of ArcN NPY/AgRP neurons. Finally, stimulation of ArcN NPY/AgRP terminal fields in the PVN and DMH decreased SSNA. Considering that chronic obesity decreases ArcN NPY content, we propose that the ArcN NPY neuropathway to the PVN and DMH is pivotal in obesity-induced elevations in SNA.
Zhigang Shi, Christopher J. Madden, Virginia L. Brooks
Huntington’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a polyglutamine repeat in the Huntingtin gene (HTT). Although suppressing the expression of mutant HTT (mHTT) has been explored as a therapeutic strategy to treat Huntington’s disease, considerable efforts have gone into developing allele-specific suppression of mHTT expression, given that loss of Htt in mice can lead to embryonic lethality. It remains unknown whether depletion of HTT in the adult brain, regardless of its allele, could be a safe therapy. Here, we report that permanent suppression of endogenous mHTT expression in the striatum of mHTT-expressing mice (HD140Q-knockin mice) using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated inactivation effectively depleted HTT aggregates and attenuated early neuropathology. The reduction of mHTT expression in striatal neuronal cells in adult HD140Q-knockin mice did not affect viability, but alleviated motor deficits. Our studies suggest that non–allele-specific CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing could be used to efficiently and permanently eliminate polyglutamine expansion–mediated neuronal toxicity in the adult brain.
Su Yang, Renbao Chang, Huiming Yang, Ting Zhao, Yan Hong, Ha Eun Kong, Xiaobo Sun, Zhaohui Qin, Peng Jin, Shihua Li, Xiao-Jiang Li
The progressive death of retinal ganglion cells and resulting visual deficits are hallmarks of glaucoma, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In many neurodegenerative diseases, cell death induced by primary insult is followed by a wave of secondary loss. Gap junctions (GJs), intercellular channels composed of subunit connexins, can play a major role in secondary cell death by forming conduits through which toxic molecules from dying cells pass to and injure coupled neighbors. Here we have shown that pharmacological blockade of GJs or genetic ablation of connexin 36 (Cx36) subunits, which are highly expressed by retinal neurons, markedly reduced loss of neurons and optic nerve axons in a mouse model of glaucoma. Further, functional parameters that are negatively affected in glaucoma, including the electroretinogram, visual evoked potential, visual spatial acuity, and contrast sensitivity, were maintained at control levels when Cx36 was ablated. Neuronal GJs may thus represent potential therapeutic targets to prevent the progressive neurodegeneration and visual impairment associated with glaucoma.
Abram Akopian, Sandeep Kumar, Hariharasubramanian Ramakrishnan, Kaushambi Roy, Suresh Viswanathan, Stewart A. Bloomfield
Voltage-gated sodium channel (NaV) mutations cause genetic pain disorders that range from severe paroxysmal pain to a congenital inability to sense pain. Previous studies on NaV1.7 and NaV1.8 established clear relationships between perturbations in channel function and divergent clinical phenotypes. By contrast, studies of NaV1.9 mutations have not revealed a clear relationship of channel dysfunction with the associated and contrasting clinical phenotypes. Here, we have elucidated the functional consequences of a NaV1.9 mutation (L1302F) that is associated with insensitivity to pain. We investigated the effects of L1302F and a previously reported mutation (L811P) on neuronal excitability. In transfected heterologous cells, the L1302F mutation caused a large hyperpolarizing shift in the voltage-dependence of activation, leading to substantially enhanced overlap between activation and steady-state inactivation relationships. In transfected small rat dorsal root ganglion neurons, expression of L1302F and L811P evoked large depolarizations of the resting membrane potential and impaired action potential generation. Therefore, our findings implicate a cellular loss of function as the basis for impaired pain sensation. We further demonstrated that a U-shaped relationship between the resting potential and the neuronal action potential threshold explains why NaV1.9 mutations that evoke small degrees of membrane depolarization cause hyperexcitability and familial episodic pain disorder or painful neuropathy, while mutations evoking larger membrane depolarizations cause hypoexcitability and insensitivity to pain.
Jianying Huang, Carlos G. Vanoye, Alison Cutts, Y. Paul Goldberg, Sulayman D. Dib-Hajj, Charles J. Cohen, Stephen G. Waxman, Alfred L. George Jr.
Approximately 30% of epilepsy patients do not respond to antiepileptic drugs, representing an unmet medical need. There is evidence that neuroinflammation plays a pathogenic role in drug-resistant epilepsy. The high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1)/TLR4 axis is a key initiator of neuroinflammation following epileptogenic injuries, and its activation contributes to seizure generation in animal models. However, further work is required to understand the role of HMGB1 and its isoforms in epileptogenesis and drug resistance. Using a combination of animal models and sera from clinically well-characterized patients, we have demonstrated that there are dynamic changes in HMGB1 isoforms in the brain and blood of animals undergoing epileptogenesis. The pathologic disulfide HMGB1 isoform progressively increased in blood before epilepsy onset and prospectively identified animals that developed the disease. Consistent with animal data, we observed early expression of disulfide HMGB1 in patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy, and its persistence was associated with subsequent seizures. In contrast with patients with well-controlled epilepsy, patients with chronic, drug-refractory epilepsy persistently expressed the acetylated, disulfide HMGB1 isoforms. Moreover, treatment of animals with antiinflammatory drugs during epileptogenesis prevented both disease progression and blood increase in HMGB1 isoforms. Our data suggest that HMGB1 isoforms are mechanistic biomarkers for epileptogenesis and drug-resistant epilepsy in humans, necessitating evaluation in larger-scale prospective studies.
Lauren Elizabeth Walker, Federica Frigerio, Teresa Ravizza, Emanuele Ricci, Karen Tse, Rosalind E. Jenkins, Graeme John Sills, Andrea Jorgensen, Luca Porcu, Thimmasettappa Thippeswamy, Tiina Alapirtti, Jukka Peltola, Martin J. Brodie, Brian Kevin Park, Anthony Guy Marson, Daniel James Antoine, Annamaria Vezzani, Munir Pirmohamed
Consciousness can be defined by two major attributes: awareness of environment and self, and arousal, which reflects the level of awareness. The return of arousal after general anesthesia presents an experimental tool for probing the neural mechanisms that control consciousness. Here we have identified that systemic or intracerebral injection of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor (CB1R) antagonist AM281 into the dorsomedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (DMH) — but not the adjacent perifornical area (Pef) or the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus of the hypothalamus (VLPO) — accelerates arousal in mice recovering from general anesthesia. Anesthetics selectively activated endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling at DMH glutamatergic but not GABAergic synapses, leading to suppression of both glutamatergic DMH-Pef and GABAergic DMH-VLPO projections. Deletion of
Haixing Zhong, Li Tong, Ning Gu, Fang Gao, Yacheng Lu, Rou-gang Xie, Jingjing Liu, Xin Li, Richard Bergeron, Lisa E. Pomeranz, Ken Mackie, Feng Wang, Chun-Xia Luo, Yan Ren, Sheng-Xi Wu, Zhongcong Xie, Lin Xu, Jinlian Li, Hailong Dong, Lize Xiong, Xia Zhang
The postsynaptic scaffolding protein SH3 and multiple ankyrin repeat domains 3 (SHANK3) is critical for the development and function of glutamatergic synapses. Disruption of the SHANK3-encoding gene has been strongly implicated as a monogenic cause of autism, and
Wenting Wang, Chenchen Li, Qian Chen, Marie-Sophie van der Goes, James Hawrot, Annie Y. Yao, Xian Gao, Congyi Lu, Ying Zang, Qiangge Zhang, Katherine Lyman, Dongqing Wang, Baolin Guo, Shengxi Wu, Charles R. Gerfen, Zhanyan Fu, Guoping Feng
Mutations in the X-linked gene encoding methyl-CpG–binding protein 2 (MeCP2) cause Rett syndrome (RTT), a neurological disorder affecting cognitive development, respiration, and motor function. Genetic restoration of MeCP2 expression reverses RTT-like phenotypes in mice, highlighting the need to search for therapeutic approaches. Here, we have developed knockin mice recapitulating the most common RTT-associated missense mutation, MeCP2 T158M. We found that the T158M mutation impaired MECP2 binding to methylated DNA and destabilized MeCP2 protein in an age-dependent manner, leading to the development of RTT-like phenotypes in these mice. Genetic elevation of MeCP2 T158M expression ameliorated multiple RTT-like features, including motor dysfunction and breathing irregularities, in both male and female mice. These improvements were accompanied by increased binding of MeCP2 T158M to DNA. Further, we found that the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway was responsible for MeCP2 T158M degradation and that proteasome inhibition increased MeCP2 T158M levels. Together, these findings demonstrate that increasing MeCP2 T158M protein expression is sufficient to mitigate RTT-like phenotypes and support the targeting of MeCP2 T158M expression or stability as an alternative therapeutic approach.
Janine M. Lamonica, Deborah Y. Kwon, Darren Goffin, Polina Fenik, Brian S. Johnson, Yue Cui, Hengyi Guo, Sigrid Veasey, Zhaolan Zhou
The integration of somatosensory information is generally assumed to be a function of the central nervous system (CNS). Here we describe fully functional GABAergic communication within rodent peripheral sensory ganglia and show that it can modulate transmission of pain-related signals from the peripheral sensory nerves to the CNS. We found that sensory neurons express major proteins necessary for GABA synthesis and release and that sensory neurons released GABA in response to depolarization. In vivo focal infusion of GABA or GABA reuptake inhibitor to sensory ganglia dramatically reduced acute peripherally induced nociception and alleviated neuropathic and inflammatory pain. In addition, focal application of GABA receptor antagonists to sensory ganglia triggered or exacerbated peripherally induced nociception. We also demonstrated that chemogenetic or optogenetic depolarization of GABAergic dorsal root ganglion neurons in vivo reduced acute and chronic peripherally induced nociception. Mechanistically, GABA depolarized the majority of sensory neuron somata, yet produced a net inhibitory effect on the nociceptive transmission due to the filtering effect at nociceptive fiber T-junctions. Our findings indicate that peripheral somatosensory ganglia represent a hitherto underappreciated site of somatosensory signal integration and offer a potential target for therapeutic intervention.
Xiaona Du, Han Hao, Yuehui Yang, Sha Huang, Caixue Wang, Sylvain Gigout, Rosmaliza Ramli, Xinmeng Li, Ewa Jaworska, Ian Edwards, Jim Deuchars, Yuchio Yanagawa, Jinlong Qi, Bingcai Guan, David B. Jaffe, Hailin Zhang, Nikita Gamper
Accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) protein may cause synapse degeneration and cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by reactivating expression of the developmental synapse repressor protein Ephexin5 (also known as ARHGEF15). Here, we have reported that Aβ is sufficient to acutely promote the production of Ephexin5 in mature hippocampal neurons and in mice expressing human amyloid precursor protein (hAPP mice), a model for familial AD that produces high brain levels of Aβ. Ephexin5 expression was highly elevated in the hippocampi of human AD patients, indicating its potential relevance to AD. We also observed elevated Ephexin5 expression in the hippocampi of hAPP mice. Removal of Ephexin5 expression eliminated hippocampal dendritic spine loss and rescued AD-associated behavioral deficits in the hAPP mice. Furthermore, selective reduction of Ephexin5 expression using shRNA in the dentate gyrus of presymptomatic adolescent hAPP mice was sufficient to protect these mice from developing cognitive impairment. Thus, pathological elevation of Ephexin5 expression critically drives Aβ-induced memory impairment, and strategies aimed at reducing Ephexin5 levels may represent an effective approach to treating AD.
Gabrielle L. Sell, Thomas B. Schaffer, Seth S. Margolis