Complete dissociation of motor neuron death from motor dysfunction by Bax deletion in a mouse model of ALS
ABSTRACT The death of cranial and spinal motoneurons (MNs) is believed to be an essential component of the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We tested this hypothesis by crossing Bax-deficient mice with mice expressing mutant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), a transgenic model of familial ALS. Although Bax deletion failed to prevent neuromuscular denervation and mitochondrial vacuolization, MNs were completely rescued from mutant SOD1-mediated death. However, Bax deficiency extended lifespan and delayed the onset of motor dysfunction of SOD1 mutants, suggesting that Bax acts via a mechanism distinct from cell death activation. Consistent with this idea, Bax elimination delayed the onset of neuromuscular denervation, which began long before the activation of cell death proteins in SOD1 mutants. Additionally, we show that denervation preceded accumulation of mutant SOD1 within MNs and astrogliosis in the spinal cord, which are also both delayed in Bax-deficient SOD1 mutants. Interestingly, MNs exhibited mitochondrial abnormalities at the innervated neuromuscular junction at the onset of neuromuscular denervation. Additionally, both MN presynaptic terminals and terminal Schwann cells expressed high levels of mutant SOD1 before MNs withdrew their axons. Together, these data support the idea that clinical symptoms in the SOD1 G93A model of ALS result specifically from damage to the distal motor axon and not from activation of the death pathway, and cast doubt on the utility of anti-apoptotic therapies to combat ALS. Furthermore, they suggest a novel, cell death-independent role for Bax in facilitating mutant SOD1-mediated motor denervation.
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ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by the loss of motoneurons in the spinal cord, brainstem and motor cortex. Mutations in the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene represent a frequent genetic determinant and recapitulate a disease phenotype similar to ALS when expressed in mice. Previous studies using SOD1(G93A) transgenic mice have suggested a paracrine mechanism of neuronal loss, in which cytokines and other toxic factors released from astroglia or microglia trigger motoneuron degeneration. Several pro-inflammatory cytokines activate death receptors and may downstream from this activate the Bcl-2 family protein, Bid. We here sought to investigate the role of Bid in astrocyte activation and non-cell autonomous motoneuron degeneration. We found that spinal cord Bid protein levels increased significantly during disease progression in SOD1(G93A) mice. Subsequent experiments in vitro indicated that Bid was expressed at relatively low levels in motoneurons, but was enriched in astrocytes and microglia. Bid was strongly induced in astrocytes in response to pro-inflammatory cytokines or exposure to lipopolysaccharide. Experiments in bid-deficient astrocytes or astrocytes treated with a small molecule Bid inhibitor demonstrated that Bid was required for the efficient activation of transcription factor nuclear factor-κB in response to these pro-inflammatory stimuli. Finally, we found that conditioned medium from wild-type astrocytes, but not from bid-deficient astrocytes, was toxic when applied to primary motoneuron cultures. Collectively, our data demonstrate a new role for the Bcl-2 family protein Bid as a mediator of astrocyte activation during neuroinflammation, and suggest that Bid activation may contribute to non-cell autonomous motoneuron degeneration in ALS.Neurobiology of Disease 06/2014; 70. DOI:10.1016/j.nbd.2014.06.008 · 5.20 Impact Factor
- Neurobiology of Disease 06/2014; · 5.20 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress has been implicated in a number of neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). MicroRNAs are small ribonucleic acids which can modulate protein expression by binding to the 3'UTR of target mRNAs. We recently identified increased miR-29a expression in response to ER stress in neurons, with members of the miR-29 family implicated in cancer and neurodegeneration. We found high expression of miR-29a in the mouse brain and spinal cord by quantitative PCR analysis and increased expression of miR-29a in the spinal cord of SOD1(G93A) transgenic mice, a mouse model of familial ALS. In situ hybridisation experiments revealed increased miR-29a expression in the lumbar spinal cord of SOD1(G93A) transgenic mice from postnatal day 70 onward when compared to wild-type mice. miR-29a knockdown was achieved in the CNS in vivo after a single intracerebroventricular injection of a miR-29a-specific antagomir. While analysis of disease progression and motor function could not identify a significant alteration in ALS disease manifestations, a trend towards increased lifespan was observed in male SOD1(G93A) mice. These findings demonstrate that miR-29a may act as a marker for disease progression in SOD1(G93A) mice, and provide first proof-of-concept for a therapeutic modulation of miR-29a function in ALS.Journal of Molecular Neuroscience 04/2014; 53(2). DOI:10.1007/s12031-014-0290-y · 2.76 Impact Factor