Institute of Translational Neuroscience, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Department of Neuroscience, and Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, and Departments of Molecular and Human Genetics, Pediatrics, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030.
Previous studies indicate that while transgenic mice with ATXN1[30Q]-D776-induced disease share pathological features caused by ATXN1[82Q] having an expanded polyglutamine tract, they fail to manifest the age-related progressive neurodegeneration seen in spinocerebellar ataxia type 1. The shared features include morphological alterations in climbing fiber (CF) innervation of Purkinje cells (PCs). To further investigate the ability of ataxin-1 (ATXN1) to impact CF/PC innervation, this study used morphological and functional approaches to examine CF/PC innervation during postnatal development in ATXN1[30Q]-D776 and ATXN1[82Q] cerebella. Notably, ATXN1[30Q]-D776 induced morphological alterations consistent with the development of the innervation of PCs by CFs being compromised, including a reduction of CF translocation along the PC dendritic tree, and decreased pruning of CF terminals from the PC soma. As previously shown for ATXN1[82Q], ATXN1[30Q]-D776 must enter the nucleus of PCs to induce these alterations. Experiments using conditional ATXN1[30Q]-D776 mice demonstrate that both the levels and specific timing of mutant ATXN1 expression are critical for alteration of the CF-PC synapse. Together these observations suggest that ATXN1, expressed exclusively in PCs, alters expression of a gene(s) in the postsynaptic PC that are critical for its innervation by CFs. To investigate whether ATXN1[30Q]-D776 curbs the progressive disease in ATXN1[82Q]-S776 mice, we crossed ATXN1[30Q]-D776 and ATXN1[82Q]-S776 mice and found that double transgenic mice developed progressive PC atrophy. Thus, the results also show that to develop progressive cerebellar degeneration requires expressing ATXN1 with an expanded polyglutamine tract.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is a genetic disorder characterized by severe ataxia associated with progressive loss of cerebellar Purkinje cells. The mGlu1 metabotropic glutamate receptor plays a key role in mechanisms of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in the cerebellum, and its dysfunction is linked to the pathophysiology of motor symptoms associated with SCA1. We used SCA1 heterozygous transgenic mice (Q154/Q2) as a model for testing the hypothesis that drugs that enhance mGlu1 receptor function may be good candidates for the medical treatment of SCA1.
Symptomatic 30-week old SCA1 mice showed reduced mGlu1 receptor mRNA and protein levels in the cerebellum. Interestingly, these mice also showed an intense expression of mGlu5 receptors in cerebellar Purkinje cells, which normally lack these receptors. Systemic treatment of SCA1 mice with the mGlu1 receptor positive allosteric modulator (PAM), Ro0711401 (10 mg/kg, s.c.), caused a prolonged improvement of motor performance on the rotarod and the paw-print tests. A single injection of Ro0711401 improved motor symptoms for several days, and no tolerance developed to the drug. In contrast, the mGlu5 receptor PAM, VU0360172 (10 mg/kg, s.c.), caused only a short-lasting improvement of motor symptoms, whereas the mGlu1 receptor antagonist, JNJ16259685 (2.5 mg/kg, i.p.), further impaired motor performance in SCA1 mice. The prolonged symptomatic benefit caused by Ro0711401 outlasted the time of drug clearance from the cerebellum, and was associated with neuroadaptive changes in the cerebellum, such as a striking reduction of the ectopically expressed mGlu5 receptors in Purkinje cells, increases in levels of total and Ser880-phosphorylated GluA2 subunit of AMPA receptors, and changes in the length of spines in the distal dendrites of Purkinje cells.
These data demonstrate that pharmacological enhancement of mGlu1 receptors causes a robust and sustained motor improvement in SCA1 mice, and lay the groundwork for the development of mGlu1 receptor PAMs as novel "cerebellum-specific", effective, and safe symptomatic drugs for the treatment of SCA1 in humans.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polyglutamine diseases are a class of neurodegenerative diseases that share an expansion of a glutamine-encoding CAG tract in the respective disease genes as a central hallmark. In all of these diseases there is progressive degeneration in a select subset of neurons, and the mechanisms behind this degeneration remain unclear. Emerging evidence from animal models of disease has identified abnormalities in synaptic signaling and intrinsic excitability in affected neurons, which coincide with the onset of symptoms and precede apparent neuropathology. The appearance of these early changes suggests that altered neuronal activity might be an important component of network dysfunction and that these alterations in network physiology could contribute to symptoms of disease. Here we review abnormalities in neuronal function that have been identified in both animal models and patients, and highlight ways in which these changes in neuronal activity may contribute to disease symptoms. We then review the literature supporting an emerging role for abnormalities in neuronal activity as a driver of neurodegeneration. Finally, we identify common themes that emerge from studies of neuronal dysfunction in polyglutamine disease.
Journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics 07/2014; 11(4). DOI:10.1007/s13311-014-0289-7 · 5.05 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is a dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disease of the cerebellum caused by a polyglutamine-repeat expansion in the protein ATXN1. We have previously demonstrated that astrocytic activation occurs early in pathogenesis, correlates with disease progression, and can occur when mutant ATXN1 expression is limited to Purkinje neurons. We now show that expression of glutamate and aspartate transporter, GLAST, is decreased in cerebellar astrocytes in a mouse model of SCA1. This decrease occurs in non-cell autonomous manner late in disease and correlates well with the loss of Purkinje neurons. Astrogliosis or decreased neuronal activity does not correlate with diminished GLAST expression. In addition, Bergmann glia remain capable of transcriptional upregulation of GLAST in response to improvement in Purkinje neurons supporting the notion of active neuron-glia crosstalk in disease.
The Cerebellum 09/2014; 14(1). DOI:10.1007/s12311-014-0605-0 · 2.72 Impact Factor
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