Julie Cook

University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States

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Publications (2)13.82 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Autophagy is a cell survival response to nutrient deprivation that delivers cellular components to lysosomes for digestion. In recent years, autophagy has also been shown to assist in the degradation of misfolded proteins linked to neurodegenerative disease (Ross and Poirier, 2004). In support of this, rapamycin, an autophagy inducer, improves the phenotype of several animal models of neurodegenerative disease. Our Tg(PrP-A116V) mice model Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker disease (GSS), a genetic prion disease characterized by prominent ataxia and extracellular PrP amyloid plaque deposits in brain (Yang et al., 2009). To determine whether autophagy induction can mitigate the development of GSS, Tg(PrP-A116V) mice were chronically treated with 10 or 20 mg/kg rapamycin intraperitoneally thrice weekly, beginning at 6 weeks of age. We observed a dose-related delay in disease onset, a reduction in symptom severity, and an extension of survival in rapamycin-treated Tg(PrP-A116V) mice. Coincident with this response was an increase in the autophagy-specific marker LC3II, a reduction in insoluble PrP-A116V, and a near-complete absence of PrP amyloid plaques in the brain. An increase in glial cell apoptosis of unclear significance was also detected. These findings suggest autophagy induction enhances elimination of misfolded PrP before its accumulation in plaques. Because ataxia persisted in these mice despite the absence of plaque deposits, our findings also suggest that PrP plaque pathology, a histopathological marker for the diagnosis of GSS, is not essential for the GSS phenotype.
    Journal of Neuroscience 09/2012; 32(36):12396-405. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome (GSS) is a genetic prion disease typified clinically by the development of progressive ataxia and dementia, and histopathologically by the presence of prion protein (PrP) amyloid plaques in the CNS, especially within the cerebellum. Several mutations of the PrP gene (PRNP) are associated with GSS, but only the P102L mutation has been convincingly modeled in transgenic (Tg) mice. To determine whether other mutations carry specific GSS phenotypic information, we constructed Tg mice that express PrP carrying the mouse homolog of the GSS-associated A117V mutation. Tg(A116V) mice express approximately six times the endogenous levels of PrP, develop progressive ataxia by approximately 140 d, and die by approximately 170 d. Compared with a mouse model of transmissible Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the ataxia of Tg(A116V) mice is more prominent, and the course of disease is more protracted, paralleling that observed in human disease. Neuropathology includes mild scattered vacuolation and prominent, mainly cerebellar localized, thioflavin S-positive PrP plaques comprised of full-length PrP(A116V). In some mice, more prominent vacuolation or a noncerebellar distribution of PrP plaques was evident, suggesting some variability in phenotype. The biophysical properties of PrP from Tg(A116V) mice and human GSS(A117V) revealed a similarly low fraction of insoluble PrP and a weakly protease-resistant approximately 13 kDa midspan PrP fragment, not observed in CJD. Overall, Tg(A116V) mice recapitulate many clinicopathologic features of GSS(A117V) that are distinct from CJD, supporting PrP(A116V) to carry specific phenotypic information. The occasional variation in histopathology they exhibit may shed light on a similar observation in human GSS(A117V).
    Journal of Neuroscience 09/2009; 29(32):10072-80. · 6.91 Impact Factor