Elizabeth M Rodrigues

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Maryland, United States

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Publications (3)22.29 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease pathologically characterized by amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Before these hallmark features appear, signs of axonal transport defects develop, though the initiating events are not clear. Enhanced amyloidogenic processing of amyloid precursor protein (APP) plays an integral role in AD pathogenesis, and previous work suggests that both the Aβ region and the C-terminal fragments (CTFs) of APP can cause transport defects. However, it remains unknown if APP processing affects the axonal transport of APP itself, and whether increased APP processing is sufficient to promote axonal dystrophy. We tested the hypothesis that β-secretase cleavage site mutations of APP alter APP axonal transport directly. We found that the enhanced β-secretase cleavage reduces the anterograde axonal transport of APP, while inhibited β-cleavage stimulates APP anterograde axonal transport. Transport behavior of APP after treatment with β- or γ-secretase inhibitors suggests that the amount of β-secretase cleaved CTFs (βCTFs) of APP underlies these transport differences. Consistent with these findings, βCTFs have reduced anterograde axonal transport compared with full-length, wild-type APP. Finally, a gene-targeted mouse with familial AD (FAD) Swedish mutations to APP, which enhance the β-cleavage of APP, develops axonal dystrophy in the absence of mutant protein overexpression, amyloid plaque deposition and synaptic degradation. These results suggest that the enhanced β-secretase processing of APP can directly impair the anterograde axonal transport of APP and are sufficient to lead to axonal defects in vivo.
    Human Molecular Genetics 07/2012; 21(21):4587-601. · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many neurodegenerative diseases exhibit axonal pathology, transport defects, and aberrant phosphorylation and aggregation of the microtubule binding protein tau. While mutant tau protein in frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP17) causes aberrant microtubule binding and assembly of tau into filaments, the pathways leading to tau-mediated neurotoxicity in Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders in which tau protein is not genetically modified remain unknown. To test the hypothesis that axonal transport defects alone can cause pathological abnormalities in tau protein and neurodegeneration in the absence of mutant tau or amyloid beta deposits, we induced transport defects by deletion of the kinesin light chain 1 (KLC1) subunit of the anterograde motor kinesin-1. We found that upon aging, early selective axonal transport defects in mice lacking the KLC1 protein (KLC1-/-) led to axonopathies with cytoskeletal disorganization and abnormal cargo accumulation. In addition, increased c-jun N-terminal stress kinase activation colocalized with aberrant tau in dystrophic axons. Surprisingly, swollen dystrophic axons exhibited abnormal tau hyperphosphorylation and accumulation. Thus, directly interfering with axonal transport is sufficient to activate stress kinase pathways initiating a biochemical cascade that drives normal tau protein into a pathological state found in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease.
    Journal of Neuroscience 06/2009; 29(18):5758-67. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Overexpression of amyloid precursor protein (APP), as well as mutations in the APP and presenilin genes, causes rare forms of Alzheimer's disease (AD). These genetic changes have been proposed to cause AD by elevating levels of amyloid-beta peptides (Abeta), which are thought to be neurotoxic. Since overexpression of APP also causes defects in axonal transport, we tested whether defects in axonal transport were the result of Abeta poisoning of the axonal transport machinery. Because directly varying APP levels also alters APP domains in addition to Abeta, we perturbed Abeta generation selectively by combining APP transgenes in Drosophila and mice with presenilin-1 (PS1) transgenes harboring mutations that cause familial AD (FAD). We found that combining FAD mutant PS1 with FAD mutant APP increased Abeta42/Abeta40 ratios and enhanced amyloid deposition as previously reported. Surprisingly, however, this combination suppressed rather than increased APP-induced axonal transport defects in both Drosophila and mice. In addition, neuronal apoptosis induced by expression of FAD mutant human APP in Drosophila was suppressed by co-expressing FAD mutant PS1. We also observed that directly elevating Abeta with fusions to the Familial British and Danish Dementia-related BRI protein did not enhance axonal transport phenotypes in APP transgenic mice. Finally, we observed that perturbing Abeta ratios in the mouse by combining FAD mutant PS1 with FAD mutant APP did not enhance APP-induced behavioral defects. A potential mechanism to explain these findings was suggested by direct analysis of axonal transport in the mouse, which revealed that axonal transport or entry of APP into axons is reduced by FAD mutant PS1. Thus, we suggest that APP-induced axonal defects are not caused by Abeta.
    Human Molecular Genetics 09/2008; 17(22):3474-86. · 7.69 Impact Factor