[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mechanisms controlling release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the mesolimbic dopamine reward pathway remain unknown. We report that phasic optogenetic activation of this pathway increases BDNF amounts in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of socially stressed mice but not of stress-naive mice. This stress gating of BDNF signaling is mediated by corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) acting in the NAc. These results unravel a stress context-detecting function of the brain's mesolimbic circuit.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Comprehensive transcriptional profiling of glucose-sensing neurons is challenging because of low expression levels of glucokinase (Gck) and other key proteins that transduce a glucose signal. To overcome this, we generated and validated transgenic mice with a neuronal/endocrine-specific Gck promoter driving cre expression and mated them to mice with cre-dependent expression of an EGFP-tagged ribosomal protein construct (EEF1A1-LSL.EGFPL10) that can be used to map and profile cells. We found significant Gck expression in hypothalamic and limbic regions in cells that are activated following administration of glucose or 2-deoxyglucose. Transcriptional profiling from Gck-cre/EEF1A1-LSL.EGFPL10 mice enriched known and previously unknown glucose-sensing populations including neurons expressing growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH). Electrophysiological recordings show that hypoglycemia activates GHRH neurons, suggesting a mechanistic link between hypoglycemia and growth hormone release. These studies provide a means for mapping glucose-sensitive neurons and for generating transcriptional profiles from other cell types expressing cre in a cell-specific manner.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Treatment of ob/ob mice with a Cannabinoid receptor 1 (Cnr1) antagonist reduces food intake suggesting a role for endocannabinoid signaling in leptin action. We further evaluated the role of endocannabinoid signaling by analyzing the phenotype of Cnr1 knock-out ob/ob mice. Double mutant animals show a more severe growth retardation than ob/ob mice with similar levels of adiposity and reduced insulin-like growth factor 1 levels without alterations of growth hormone levels. The double mutant mice are also significantly more glucose intolerant than ob/ob mice. This is in contrast to treatment of ob/ob mice with a Cnr1 antagonist which had no effect on glucose metabolism suggesting a possible requirement for endocannabinoid signaling during development for normal glucose homeostasis. Double mutant animals also show similar leptin senstivity as ob/ob mice suggesting that there are developmental changes that compensate for the loss of Cnr1 signaling. These data establish a role for Cnr1 during development and suggest that compensatory changes during development may mitigate the requirement for Cnr1 in mediating the effects of leptin. The data further suggest a developmental role for Cnr1 to promote growth, regulate the GH/IGF-1 axis and improve β bell function and glucose homeostasis in the setting of leptin deficiency.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Leptin receptors play critical roles in mediating leptin's pleiotropic effects on mammalian physiology. To date, six splice variants of the leptin receptor gene have been identified [1-3]. These splice variants have identical extracellular leptin binding motifs but different intracellular C termini. The finding that mutations specifically ablating the function of ObRb cause obesity has established a critical role for this isoform in leptin signaling [1,7]. ObRa is the most abundant splicing isoform with a broad tissue distribution , and it has been proposed to play roles in regulating leptin bioavailability, CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) transport and function by forming heterodimers with ObRb and also activating signal transduction via JAK2 in-vitro [5-10]. To assess the in-vivo role of ObRa, we generated an ObRa KO mouse by deleting the ObRa-specific exon 19a. Homozygous mutant mice breed normally and are indistinguishable from wild-type mice on regular chow diet, but show a slightly increased basal plasma leptin, a slight improvement of their GTT and a slightly reduced response to systemic leptin administration. These mice also show a modest but statistically significant increase in weight when placed on a high fat diet with a slightly reduced CSF/plasma ratio of leptin. These data suggest that ObRa plays a role in mediating some of leptin's effects but that the phenotypic consequences are modest compared to a deletion of ObRb.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Leptin-deficient patients report higher “liking” ratings for food, and leptin replacement therapy normalizes these ratings even before weight loss is achieved. Since animals cannot report their ratings, we studied the relationship between leptin and food reward in leptin-deficient ob/ob mice using a optogenetic assay that quantifies the reward value of sucrose. In this assay, mice chose between one sipper dispensing the artificial sweetener sucralose coupled to optogenetic activation of dopaminergic (DA) neurons, and another sipper dispensing sucrose. We found that the reward value of sucrose was high under a state of leptin deficiency, as well as at a dose of leptin that does not suppress food intake (12.5 ng/h). Treatment with higher doses of leptin decreased the reward value of sucrose before weight loss was achieved (100 ng/h), as seen in leptin-deficient patients. These results phenocopy in mice the behavior of leptin-deficient patients.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sugars that contain glucose, such as sucrose, are generally preferred to artificial sweeteners owing to their post-ingestive rewarding effect, which elevates striatal dopamine (DA) release. While the post-ingestive rewarding effect, which artificial sweeteners do not have, signals the nutrient value of sugar and influences food preference, the neural circuitry that mediates the rewarding effect of glucose is unknown. In this study, we show that optogenetic activation of melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) neurons during intake of the artificial sweetener sucralose increases striatal dopamine levels and inverts the normal preference for sucrose vs sucralose. Conversely, animals with ablation of MCH neurons no longer prefer sucrose to sucralose and show reduced striatal DA release upon sucrose ingestion. We further show that MCH neurons project to reward areas and are required for the post-ingestive rewarding effect of sucrose in sweet-blind Trpm5(-/-) mice. These studies identify an essential component of the neural pathways linking nutrient sensing and food reward. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01462.001.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine neurons in the brain's reward circuit have a crucial role in mediating stress responses, including determining susceptibility versus resilience to social-stress-induced behavioural abnormalities. VTA dopamine neurons show two in vivo patterns of firing: low frequency tonic firing and high frequency phasic firing. Phasic firing of the neurons, which is well known to encode reward signals, is upregulated by repeated social-defeat stress, a highly validated mouse model of depression. Surprisingly, this pathophysiological effect is seen in susceptible mice only, with no apparent change in firing rate in resilient individuals. However, direct evidence-in real time-linking dopamine neuron phasic firing in promoting the susceptible (depression-like) phenotype is lacking. Here we took advantage of the temporal precision and cell-type and projection-pathway specificity of optogenetics to show that enhanced phasic firing of these neurons mediates susceptibility to social-defeat stress in freely behaving mice. We show that optogenetic induction of phasic, but not tonic, firing in VTA dopamine neurons of mice undergoing a subthreshold social-defeat paradigm rapidly induced a susceptible phenotype as measured by social avoidance and decreased sucrose preference. Optogenetic phasic stimulation of these neurons also quickly induced a susceptible phenotype in previously resilient mice that had been subjected to repeated social-defeat stress. Furthermore, we show differences in projection-pathway specificity in promoting stress susceptibility: phasic activation of VTA neurons projecting to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), but not to the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), induced susceptibility to social-defeat stress. Conversely, optogenetic inhibition of the VTA-NAc projection induced resilience, whereas inhibition of the VTA-mPFC projection promoted susceptibility. Overall, these studies reveal novel firing-pattern- and neural-circuit-specific mechanisms of depression.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mammalian brain is composed of thousands of interacting neural cell types. Systematic approaches to establish the molecular identity of functional populations of neurons would advance our understanding of neural mechanisms controlling behavior. Here, we show that ribosomal protein S6, a structural component of the ribosome, becomes phosphorylated in neurons activated by a wide range of stimuli. We show that these phosphorylated ribosomes can be captured from mouse brain homogenates, thereby enriching directly for the mRNAs expressed in discrete subpopulations of activated cells. We use this approach to identify neurons in the hypothalamus regulated by changes in salt balance or food availability. We show that galanin neurons are activated by fasting and that prodynorphin neurons restrain food intake during scheduled feeding. These studies identify elements of the neural circuit that controls food intake and illustrate how the activity-dependent capture of cell-type-specific transcripts can elucidate the functional organization of a complex tissue.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Obesity and diabetes are particularly high in indigenous populations exposed to a Western diet and lifestyle. We describe the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, and hypertension in one such population, the Micronesian island of Kosrae. Longitudinal screenings for metabolic traits were conducted on adult Kosraens ò 20 years of age in 1994 and again in 2001. Data was obtained on 3,106 Kosraens, comprising ˜80% of the adult population. Diabetes was diagnosed using World Health Organization guidelines. Prevalences of obesity, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, and hypertension were assessed. The overall age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes increased from 14% to 21%. The most significant change observed in the population was increases in obesity and hyperglycemia, especially among young Kosraens and women. Obesity age-adjusted prevalence increased from 45% to 62%, and hyperglycemia age-adjusted prevalence increased from 19% to 44%. Of note, Kosraens as a group had unusually low high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels with 80% classified as low HDL by NCEP-ATPIII criteria, despite lacking the usually accompanying increase in triglycerides. Comparison to reports from other populations shows that Kosrae experiences one of the highest rates of obesity, hyperglycemia, and low HDL globally while maintaining relatively healthy levels of triglycerides. Our study shows a dramatic increase in obesity and hyperglycemia in Kosrae in just 7 years and forebodes significantly increased health risks for this part of the world.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Medical applications of nanotechnology typically focus on drug delivery and biosensors. Here, we combine nanotechnology and bioengineering to demonstrate that nanoparticles can be used to remotely regulate protein production in vivo. We decorated a modified temperature-sensitive channel, TRPV1, with antibody-coated iron oxide nanoparticles that are heated in a low-frequency magnetic field. When local temperature rises, TRPV1 gates calcium to stimulate synthesis and release of bioengineered insulin driven by a Ca(2+)-sensitive promoter. Studying tumor xenografts expressing the bioengineered insulin gene, we show that exposure to radio waves stimulates insulin release from the tumors and lowers blood glucose in mice. We further show that cells can be engineered to synthesize genetically encoded ferritin nanoparticles and inducibly release insulin. These approaches provide a platform for using nanotechnology to activate cells.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whole-genome sequencing in an isolated population with few founders directly ascertains variants from the population bottleneck that may be rare elsewhere. In such populations, shared haplotypes allow imputation of variants in unsequenced samples without resorting to complex statistical methods as in studies of outbred cohorts. We focus on an isolated population cohort from the Pacific Island of Kosrae, Micronesia, where we previously collected SNP array and rich phenotype data for the majority of the population. We report identification of long regions with haplotypes co-inherited between pairs of individuals and methodology to leverage such shared genetic content for imputation. Our estimates show that sequencing as few as 40 personal genomes allows for inference in up to 60% of the 3000-person cohort at the average locus. We ascertained a pilot data set of whole-genome sequences from seven Kosraean individuals, with average 5× coverage. This assay identified 5,735,306 unique sites of which 1,212,831 were previously unknown. Additionally, these variants are unusually enriched for alleles that are rare in other populations when compared to geographic neighbors (published Korean genome SJK). We used the presence of shared haplotypes between the seven Kosraen individuals to estimate expected imputation accuracy of known and novel homozygous variants at 99.6% and 97.3%, respectively. This study presents whole-genome analysis of a homogenous isolate population with emphasis on optimal rare variant inference.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We developed an assay for quantifying the reward value of nutrient and used it to analyze the effects of metabolic state and leptin. In this assay, mice chose between two sippers, one of which dispensed water and was coupled to optogenetic activation of dopaminergic (DA) neurons and the other of which dispensed natural or artificial sweeteners. This assay measured the reward value of sweeteners relative to lick-induced optogenetic activation of DA neurons. Mice preferred optogenetic stimulation of DA neurons to sucralose, but not to sucrose. However, the mice preferred sucralose plus optogenetic stimulation versus sucrose. We found that food restriction increased the value of sucrose relative to sucralose plus optogenetic stimulation, and that leptin decreased it. Our data suggest that leptin suppresses the ability of sucrose to drive taste-independent DA neuronal activation and provide new insights into the mechanism of leptin's effects on food intake.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Obesity is characterized by an expansion of white adipose tissue mass that results from an increase in the size and the number of adipocytes. However, the mechanisms responsible for the formation of adipocytes during development and the molecular mechanisms regulating their increase and maintenance in adulthood are poorly understood. Here, we report the use of leptin-luciferase BAC transgenic mice to track white adipose tissue (WAT) development and guide the isolation and molecular characterization of adipocytes during development using DNA microarrays. These data reveal distinct transcriptional programs that are regulated during murine WAT development in vivo. By using a de novo cis-regulatory motif discovery tool (FIRE), we identify two early gene clusters whose promoters show significant enrichment for NRF2/ETS transcription factor binding sites. We further demonstrate that Ets transcription factors, but not Nrf2, are regulated during early adipogenesis and that Ets2 is essential for the normal progression of the adipocyte differentiation program in vitro. These data identify ETS2 as a functionally important transcription factor in adipogenesis and its possible role in regulating adipose tissue mass in adults can now be tested. Our approach also provides the basis for elucidating the function of other gene networks during WAT development in vivo. Finally these data confirm that although gene expression during adipogenesis in vitro recapitulates many of the patterns of gene expression in vivo, there are additional developmental transitions in pre and post-natal adipose tissue that are not evident in cell culture systems.
Development 11/2011; 138(21):4709-19. · 6.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rare variants affecting phenotype pose a unique challenge for human genetics. Although genome-wide association studies have successfully detected many common causal variants, they are underpowered in identifying disease variants that are too rare or population-specific to be imputed from a general reference panel and thus are poorly represented on commercial SNP arrays. We set out to overcome these challenges and detect association between disease and rare alleles using SNP arrays by relying on long stretches of genomic sharing that are identical by descent. We have developed an algorithm, DASH, which builds upon pairwise identical-by-descent shared segments to infer clusters of individuals likely to be sharing a single haplotype. DASH constructs a graph with nodes representing individuals and links on the basis of such segments spanning a locus and uses an iterative minimum cut algorithm to identify densely connected components. We have applied DASH to simulated data and diverse GWAS data sets by constructing haplotype clusters and testing them for association. In simulations we show this approach to be significantly more powerful than single-marker testing in an isolated population that is from Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia and has abundant IBD, and we provide orthogonal information for rare, recent variants in the outbred Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium (WTCCC) data. In both cohorts, we identified a number of haplotype associations, five such loci in the WTCCC data and ten in the isolated, that were conditionally significant beyond any individual nearby markers. We have replicated one of these loci in an independent European cohort and identified putative structural changes in low-pass whole-genome sequence of the cluster carriers.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 06/2011; 88(6):706-17. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cloning of the ob gene and its gene product, leptin, has led to the elucidation of a robust physiologic system that maintains fat stores at a relatively constant level. Leptin is a peptide hormone secreted by adipose tissue in proportion to its mass. Recessive mutations in the leptin gene are associated with massive obesity in mice and humans, establishing a genetic basis for obesity. Leptin circulates in blood and acts on the brain to regulate food intake and energy expenditure. When fat mass falls, plasma leptin levels fall, stimulating appetite and suppressing energy expenditure until fat mass is restored. When fat mass increases, leptin levels increase, suppressing appetite until weight is lost. This system maintains homeostatic control of adipose tissue mass. The discovery of leptin has advanced our understanding of metabolic disease in a number of respects. Its identification has revealed a new endocrine system regulating body weight. This system provides a means by which changes in nutritional state regulate other physiologic systems. A number of leptin deficiency syndromes that are treatable with leptin replacement have been identified. The majority of obese subjects are leptin resistant, which establishes that obesity is the result of hormone resistance. Leptin treatment results in weight loss in a subset of obese patients and can also synergize with other anti-obesity agents to reduce weight in the general population. Leptin provides an entry point for studying a complex human behavior. Finally, this research has established that there is a powerful biological basis for obesity, a fact that is (correctly) changing public perception about the pathogenesis of this medical condition.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whole-genome sequencing in an isolated population with few founders directly
ascertains variants from the population bottleneck that may be rare elsewhere.
In such populations, shared haplotypes allow imputation of variants in
unsequenced samples without resorting to statistical methods, as in studies of
outbred cohorts. We focus on an isolated population cohort from the Pacific
Island of Kosrae, Micronesia, where we previously collected SNP array and rich
phenotype data for the majority of the population. We report identification of
long regions with haplotypes co-inherited between pairs of individuals and
methodology to leverage such shared genetic content for imputation. Our
estimates show that sequencing as few as 40 personal genomes allows for
imputation in up to 60% of the 3,000-person cohort at the average locus. We
ascertained a pilot data-set of whole-genome sequences from seven Kosraean
individuals, with average 5X coverage. This dataset identified 5,735,306 unique
sites of which 1,212,831 were previously unknown. Additionally, these Kosraen
variants are unusually enriched for alleles that are rare in other populations
when compared to geographic neighbors. We were able to use the presence of
shared haplotypes between the seven individuals to estimate imputation accuracy
of known and novel variants and achieved levels of 99.6% and 97.3%,
respectively. This study presents the first whole-genome analysis of a
homogenous isolate population with emphasis on rare variant inference.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The identity of higher-order neurons and circuits playing an associative role to control feeding is unknown. We injected pseudorabies virus, a retrograde tracer, into masseter muscle, salivary gland, and tongue of BAC-transgenic mice expressing GFP in specific neural populations and identified several CNS regions that project multisynaptically to the periphery. MCH and orexin neurons were identified in the lateral hypothalamus, and Nurr1 and Cnr1 in the amygdala and insular/rhinal cortices. Cholera toxin β tracing showed that insular Nurr1(+) and Cnr1(+) neurons project to the amygdala or lateral hypothalamus, respectively. Finally, we show that cortical Cnr1(+) neurons show increased Cnr1 mRNA and c-Fos expression after fasting, consistent with a possible role for Cnr1(+) neurons in feeding. Overall, these studies define a general approach for identifying specific molecular markers for neurons in complex neural circuits. These markers now provide a means for functional studies of specific neuronal populations in feeding or other complex behaviors.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The potential benefits of using population isolates in genetic mapping, such as reduced genetic, phenotypic and environmental heterogeneity, are offset by the challenges posed by the large amounts of direct and cryptic relatedness in these populations confounding basic assumptions of independence. We have evaluated four representative specialized methods for association testing in the presence of relatedness; (i) within-family (ii) within- and between-family and (iii) mixed-models methods, using simulated traits for 2906 subjects with known genome-wide genotype data from an extremely isolated population, the Island of Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia. We report that mixed models optimally extract association information from such samples, demonstrating 88% power to rank the true variant as among the top 10 genome-wide with 56% achieving genome-wide significance, a >80% improvement over the other methods, and demonstrate that population isolates have similar power to non-isolate populations for observing variants of known effects. We then used the mixed-model method to reanalyze data for 17 published phenotypes relating to metabolic traits and electrocardiographic measures, along with another 8 previously unreported. We replicate nine genome-wide significant associations with known loci of plasma cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, thyroid stimulating hormone, homocysteine, C-reactive protein and uric acid, with only one detected in the previous analysis of the same traits. Further, we leveraged shared identity-by-descent genetic segments in the region of the uric acid locus to fine-map the signal, refining the known locus by a factor of 4. Finally, we report a novel associations for height (rs17629022, P< 2.1 × 10⁻⁸).
Human Molecular Genetics 02/2011; 20(4):827-39. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Obese, leptin deficient obob mice have profoundly decreased activity and increased food seeking behavior. The decreased activity has been attributed to obesity. In mice, we tested the hypothesis that leptin increases total locomotor activity but inhibits food anticipatory activity. We also sought to determine if leptin induced increases in total locomotor activity are independent of changes in body weight and obesity. We studied obob mice and also created a novel transgenic mouse where leptin is over-expressed in a tetracycline-off system and can be abruptly and non-invasively suppressed by doxycycline within few hours. The studies were performed using two independent behavioral assays: home cage activity (HCA) and running wheel activity (RWA). Systemic administration of leptin (150 ng/hr) to obob mice produced a 122%±30% (mean ± SEM) increase (p≤0.01) in locomotor activity within 2 days In addition, cerebroventricular administration of leptin (5 ng/hr) also produced an early and progressive increase in total locomotor activity beginning on the 1st day (+28±8%; p≤0.05) and increasing to +69±23% on day 3 without a decrease in body weight during this time. The increase in activity was restricted to the dark phase. Conversely, in a tet-off transgenic obob mouse line, acute leptin suppression reduced spontaneous locomotor activity. To further define activities that are leptin regulated, we assayed food anticipatory activity (FAA) and found that it was markedly augmented in obob mice compared to wild type mice (+38±6.7 in obob vs +20±6.3% in wild type at peak; mean ± SEM; p≤0.001) and abolished by leptin. Although melanocortin-3 receptors (MC3R) reportedly mediate FAA, we found augmented FAA and preserved inhibitory effects of leptin on FAA in MC3R-/-obob mice. In summary, this study demonstrates that total activity and FAA are regulated independently by leptin. Leptin, acting in the central nervous system and at physiologic levels, produces early increases in locomotor activity before substantial weight loss. In contrast, leptin suppresses augmented food anticipatory activity in obob mice.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(8):e23364. · 3.73 Impact Factor