Jodi Becker

National Cancer Institute (USA), Bethesda, MD, United States

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Publications (6)35.42 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: TrkA is a tyrosine kinase receptor required for development and survival of the peripheral nervous system. In the adult, TrkA and its ligand NGF are peripheral pain mediators, particularly in inflammatory pain states. However, how TrkA regulates the function of nociceptive neurons and whether its activity levels may lead to sensory abnormalities is still unclear. Here we report the characterization of a 3 aa (KFG) domain that negatively regulates TrkA level and function in response to NGF. Deletion of this domain in mouse causes a reduction of TrkA ubiquitination leading to an increase in TrkA protein levels and activity. The number of dorsal root ganglia neurons is not affected by the mutation. However, mutant mice have enhanced thermal sensitivity and inflammatory pain. Together, these data suggest that ubiquitination is a mechanism used in nociceptive neurons to regulate TrkA level and function. Our results may enhance our understanding of how ubiquitination affects TrkA activation following noxious thermal stimulation and inflammatory pain.
    Journal of Neuroscience 03/2014; 34(11):4090-8. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) exerts strong pro-survival effects on developing and injured motoneurons. However, in clinical trials, BDNF has failed to benefit patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). To date, the cause of this failure remains unclear. Motoneurons express the TrkB kinase receptor but also high levels of the truncated TrkB.T1 receptor isoform. Thus, we investigated whether the presence of this receptor may affect the response of diseased motoneurons to endogenous BDNF. We deleted TrkB.T1 in the hSOD1(G93A) ALS mouse model and evaluated the impact of this mutation on motoneuron death, muscle weakness and disease progression. We found that TrkB.T1 deletion significantly slowed the onset of motor neuron degeneration. Moreover, it delayed the development of muscle weakness by 33 days. Although the life span of the animals was not affected we observed an overall improvement in the neurological score at the late stage of the disease. To investigate the effectiveness of strategies aimed at bypassing the TrkB.T1 limit to BDNF signaling we treated SOD1 mutant mice with the adenosine A2A receptor agonist CGS21680, which can activate motoneuron TrkB receptor signaling independent of neurotrophins. We found that CGS21680 treatment slowed the onset of motor neuron degeneration and muscle weakness similarly to TrkB.T1 removal. Together, our data provide evidence that endogenous TrkB.T1 limits motoneuron responsiveness to BDNF in vivo and suggest that new strategies such as Trk receptor transactivation may be used for therapeutic intervention in ALS or other neurodegenerative disorders.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(6):e39946. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neurotrophin-dependent activation of the tyrosine kinase receptor trkB.FL modulates neuromuscular synapse maintenance and function; however, it is unclear what role the alternative splice variant, truncated trkB (trkB.T1), may have in the peripheral neuromuscular axis. We examined this question in trkB.T1 null mice and demonstrate that in vivo neuromuscular performance and nerve-evoked muscle tension are significantly increased. In vitro assays indicated that the gain-in-function in trkB.T1(-/-) animals resulted specifically from an increased muscle contractility, and increased electrically evoked calcium release. In the trkB.T1 null muscle, we identified an increase in Akt activation in resting muscle as well as a significant increase in trkB.FL and Akt activation in response to contractile activity. On the basis of these findings, we conclude that the trkB signaling pathway might represent a novel target for intervention across diseases characterized by deficits in neuromuscular function.
    AJP Cell Physiology 08/2011; 302(1):C141-53. · 3.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy patients often develop a cardiomyopathy for which the pathogenesis is still unknown. We have employed the murine animal model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (mdx), which develops a cardiomyopathy that includes some characteristics of the human disease, to study the molecular basis of this pathology. Here we show that the mdx mouse heart has defects consistent with alteration in compounds that regulate energy homeostasis including a marked decrease in creatine-phosphate (PC). In addition, the mdx heart is more susceptible to anoxia than controls. Since the cardio-protective ATP sensitive potassium channel (K(ATP)) complex and PC have been shown to interact we investigated whether deficits in PC levels correlate with other molecular events including K(ATP) ion channel complex presence, its functionality and interaction with dystrophin. We found that this channel complex is present in the dystrophic cardiac cell membrane but its ability to sense a drop in the intracellular ATP concentration and consequently open is compromised by the absence of dystrophin. We further demonstrate that the creatine kinase muscle isoform (CKm) is displaced from the plasma membrane of the mdx cardiac cells. Considering that CKm is a determinant of K(ATP) channel complex function we hypothesize that dystrophin acts as a scaffolding protein organizing the K(ATP) channel complex and the enzymes necessary for its correct functioning. Therefore, the lack of proper functioning of the cardio-protective K(ATP) system in the mdx cardiomyocytes may be part of the mechanism contributing to development of cardiac disease in dystrophic patients.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(10):e27034. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pathological or in vitro overexpression of the truncated TrkB (TrkB.T1) receptor inhibits signaling through the full-length TrkB (TrkB.FL) tyrosine kinase receptor. However, to date, the role of endogenous TrkB.T1 is still unknown. By studying mice lacking the truncated TrkB.T1 isoform but retaining normal spatiotemporal expression of TrkB.FL, we have analyzed TrkB.T1-specific physiological functions and its effect on endogenous TrkB kinase signaling in vivo. We found that TrkB.T1-deficient mice develop normally but show increased anxiety in association with morphological abnormalities in the length and complexity of neurites of neurons in the basolateral amygdala. However, no behavioral abnormalities were detected in hippocampal-dependent memory tasks, which correlated with lack of any obvious hippocampal morphological deficits or alterations in basal synaptic transmission and long-term potentiation. In vivo reduction of TrkB signaling by removal of one BDNF allele could be partially rescued by TrkB.T1 deletion, which was revealed by an amelioration of the enhanced aggression and weight gain associated with BDNF haploinsufficiency. Our results suggest that, at the physiological level, TrkB.T1 receptors are important regulators of TrkB.FL signaling in vivo. Moreover, TrkB.T1 selectively affects dendrite complexity of certain neuronal populations.
    Journal of Neuroscience 02/2009; 29(3):678-85. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neurotrophins play an essential role in mammalian development. Most of their functions have been attributed to activation of the kinase-active Trk receptors and the p75 neurotrophin receptor. Truncated Trk receptor isoforms lacking the kinase domain are abundantly expressed during development and in the adult; however, their function and signaling capacity is largely unknown. We show that the neurotrophin-3 (NT3) TrkCT1-truncated receptor binds to the scaffold protein tamalin in a ligand-dependent manner. Moreover, NT3 initiation of this complex leads to activation of the Rac1 GTPase through adenosine diphosphate-ribosylation factor 6 (Arf6). At the cellular level, NT3 binding to TrkCT1-tamalin induces Arf6 translocation to the membrane, which in turn causes membrane ruffling and the formation of cellular protrusions. Thus, our data identify a new signaling pathway elicited by the kinase-deficient TrkCT1 receptor. Moreover, we establish NT3 as an upstream regulator of Arf6.
    The Journal of Cell Biology 05/2006; 173(2):291-9. · 10.82 Impact Factor