[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disease characterized by muscle weakness, fatigability, and autoantibodies against protein antigens of the muscle endplate. Antibodies against acetylcholine receptor (AChR), and less frequently against muscle-Specific Kinase (MuSK) or lipoprotein related protein 4 (LRP4) occur in patients with seropositive MG (SPMG). However, about 10% of patients do not have detectable autoantibodies despite evidence suggesting that the disorder is immune mediated; this disorder is known as seronegative MG (SNMG). Using a protein array approach we identified cortactin (a protein that acts downstream from agrin/MuSK promoting AChR clustering) as potential new target antigen in SNMG. We set up an ELISA assay and screened sera from patients with SPMG, SNMG, other autoimmune diseases and controls. Results were validated by immunoblot. We found that 19.7% of patients with SNMG had antibodies against cortactin whereas only 4.8% of patients with SPMG were positive. Cortactin antibodies were also found in 12.5% of patients with other autoimmune disorders but only in 5,2% of healthy controls. We conclude that the finding of cortactin antibodies in patients with SNMG, suggest an underlying autoimmune mechanism, supporting the use of immune therapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) are widely expressed in the vertebrate nervous system and play a central role in mature neuronal function. In vitro BDNF/TrkB signaling promotes neuronal survival and can help neurons resist toxic insults. Paradoxically, BDNF/TrkB signaling has also been shown, under certain in vitro circumstances, to render neurons vulnerable to insults. We show here that in vivo conditional deletion of TrkB from mature motor neurons attenuates mutant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) toxicity. Mutant SOD1 mice lacking motor neuron TrkB live a month longer than controls and retain motor function for a longer period, particularly in the early phase of the disease. These effects are subserved by slowed motor neuron loss, persistence of neuromuscular junction integrity and reduced astrocytic and microglial reactivity within the spinal cord. These results suggest that manipulation of BDNF/TrkB signaling might have therapeutic efficacy in motor neuron diseases.
Human Molecular Genetics 08/2011; 20(21):4116-31. DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddr335 · 6.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incurable progressive paralytic motor neuron disease with limited therapeutic options. Since their creation by Gurney et al. (1994) [Science 264:1772-1775], transgenic superoxide dismutase-1 with glycine to alanine switch at codon 93 (SOD1(G93A)) mice have become the benchmark pre-clinical model for screening ALS therapies. Surprisingly, despite physiological, anatomical, ultrastructural and biochemical evidence of early motor system dysfunction, it has proven difficult to detect motor performance deficits in pre-symptomatic SOD1(G93A) mice. As an alternative to conventional forced motor tests, we investigated the progression of motor performance deficits in freely behaving pre-symptomatic congenic B6.SOD1(G93A) mice. We found that motor performance deficits began several weeks prior to the onset of overt clinical symptoms (postnatal day 45). More importantly, once motor performance deficits manifested, they persisted in parallel with disease progression. In addition, two physical measures of muscle girth revealed progressive hindlimb muscle atrophy that predicted genotype in individual pre-symptomatic mice with 80% accuracy. Together, these data suggest that muscle girth is a reliable and indirect measure of hindlimb muscle denervation and an early, objective marker for disease onset in congenic B6.SOD1(G93A) ALS mice. Moreover, we present regression equations based on hindlimb muscle girth for predicting genotype in future studies using B6.SOD1(G93A) mice. These findings support new objective criteria for clinical disease onset and provide objective measures that require little expertise. These studies demonstrate a cost-effective approach for more thorough evaluation of neuroprotective strategies that seek to disrupt disease mechanisms early in the disease process. To our knowledge, these findings are the first to report early chronic motor performance and physical deficits that are coincident with the earliest known motor dysfunction in any ALS mouse model.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This is the first study using a reporter transgenic model to investigate the effects of an environmental toxin on the retina. Rotenone is a widely used pesticide that inhibits mitochondrial complex I and produces neurotoxicity. Previous studies demonstrated the time course and dose response of rotenone toxicity on retinal ganglion cells (RGC). However, previous analyses of rotenone-induced retinotoxicity provided little detail of the optic nerve axons and cellular pathology. These limitations were successfully surmounted by using a transgenic mouse line shown to express cyan fluorescent protein (CFP) in neurons, including RGC, under regulatory elements of the human the thy1.1 promoter (thy-CFP). Data showed that CFP expression is limited to RGC and their processes in the retina of thy-CFP mice. Eyes exposed to the pesticide rotenone displayed marked alterations in RGC morphology, inner plexiform layer, optic disc, and optic nerves. After 24 h, the number of CFP-labeled RGC was reduced 50%. Correlated with a loss of RGC bodies was an approximate 50% reduction in CFP fluorescence intensity at the optic disc. The findings showed that rotenone-induced degeneration of RGC and their processes can be visualized with exquisite detail in thy-CFP mice, and that this approach may provide a novel and effective way to monitor the association between environmental toxins and neurodegeneration in living animals.
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A 02/2008; 71(24):1582-92. DOI:10.1080/15287390802414190 · 2.35 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The intermediate filament nestin is localized postsynaptically at rodent neuromuscular junctions. The protein forms a filamentous network beneath and between the synaptic gutters, surrounds myofiber nuclei, and is associated with Z-discs adjacent to the junction. In situ hybridization shows that nestin mRNA is synthesized selectively by synaptic myonuclei. Although weak immunoreactivity is present in myelinating Schwann cells that wrap the preterminal axon, nestin is not detected in the terminal Schwann cells (tSCs) that cover the nerve terminal branches. However, after denervation of muscle, nestin is upregulated in tSCs and in SCs within the nerve distal to the lesion site. In contrast, immunoreactivity is strongly downregulated in the muscle fiber. Transgenic mice in which the nestin neural enhancer drives expression of a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter show that the regulation in SCs is transcriptional. However, the postsynaptic expression occurs through enhancer elements distinct from those responsible for regulation in SCs. Application of botulinum toxin shows that the upregulation in tSCs and the loss of immunoreactivity in muscle fibers occurs with blockade of transmitter release. Extrinsic stimulation of denervated muscle maintains the postsynaptic expression of nestin but does not affect the upregulation in SCs. Thus, a nestin-containing cytoskeleton is promoted in the postsynaptic muscle fiber by nerve-evoked muscle activity but suppressed in tSCs by transmitter release. Nestin antibodies and GFP driven by nestin promoter elements serve as excellent markers for the reactive state of SCs. Vital imaging of GFP shows that SCs grow a dynamic set of processes after denervation.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 06/2007; 27(22):5948-57. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0621-07.2007 · 6.34 Impact Factor