[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A RAS-related class of small monomeric G proteins, the RAB GTPases, is emerging as of key biological importance in compartment specific directional control of vesicles formation, transport and fusion. Thanks to human genetic observation and to the consequent dedicated biochemical work, substantial progress has been made on the understanding of the role played by RAB GTPases and their effector proteins on neuronal development and the shaping of cognitive functions. This review is highlighting these initial elements to broaden the current scope of research on developmental cognitive deficits and take the point of view of RAB GTPases control on membrane transport in neurons and astrocytes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Copy number gains at Xq28 are a frequent cause of X-linked intellectual disability (XLID). Here, we report on a recurrent 0.5 Mb tandem copy number gain at distal Xq28 not including MECP2, in four male patients with non-syndromic mild ID and behavioural problems. The genomic region is duplicated in two families and triplicated in a third reflected by more distinctive clinical features. The X-inactivation patterns in carrier females correspond well with their clinical symptoms. Our mapping data confirm that this recurrent gain is likely mediated by non-allelic homologous recombination between two directly-oriented Int22h repeats. The affected region harbours seven genes of which RAB39B encoding a small GTPase, was the prime candidate since loss-of-function mutations had been linked to ID. RAB39B is expressed at stable levels in lymphocytes from control individuals, suggesting a tight regulation. mRNA levels in our patients were almost two-fold increased. Overexpression of Rab39b in mouse primary hippocampal neurons demonstrated a significant decrease in neuronal branching as well as in the number of synapses when compared to the control neurons. Taken together, we provide evidence that the increased dosage of RAB39B causes a disturbed neuronal development leading to cognitive impairment in patients with this recurrent copy number gain. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The functional significance of adult neural stem and progenitor cells in hippocampal-dependent learning and memory has been well documented. Although adult neural stem and progenitor cells in the subventricular zone are known to migrate to, maintain and reorganize the olfactory bulb, it is less clear whether they are functionally required for other processes. Using a conditional transgenic mouse model, selective ablation of adult neural stem and progenitor cells in the subventricular zone induced a dramatic increase in morbidity and mortality of central nervous system disorders characterized by excitotoxicity-induced cell death accompanied by reactive inflammation, such as 4-aminopyridine-induced epilepsy and ischaemic stroke. To test the role of subventricular zone adult neural stem and progenitor cells in protecting central nervous system tissue from glutamatergic excitotoxicity, neurophysiological recordings of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents from single medium spiny striatal neurons were measured on acute brain slices. Indeed, lipopolysaccharide-stimulated, but not unstimulated, subventricular zone adult neural stem and progenitor cells reverted the increased frequency and duration of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents by secreting the endocannabinod arachidonoyl ethanolamide, a molecule that regulates glutamatergic tone through type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB(1)) binding. In vivo restoration of cannabinoid levels, either by administration of the type 1 cannabinoid receptor agonist HU210 or the inhibitor of the principal catabolic enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase, URB597, completely reverted the increased morbidity and mortality of adult neural stem and progenitor cell-ablated mice suffering from epilepsy and ischaemic stroke. Our results provide the first evidence that adult neural stem and progenitor cells located within the subventricular zone exert an 'innate' homeostatic regulatory role by protecting striatal neurons from glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protein synthesis is a tightly regulated, energy-consuming process. The control of mRNA translation into protein is fundamentally important for the fine-tuning of gene expression; additionally, precise translational control plays a critical role in many cellular processes, including development, cellular growth, proliferation, differentiation, synaptic plasticity, memory, and learning. Eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4h (Eif4h) encodes a protein involved in the process of protein synthesis, at the level of initiation phase. Its human homolog, WBSCR1, maps on 7q11.23, inside the 1.6 Mb region that is commonly deleted in patients affected by the Williams-Beuren syndrome, which is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by cardiovascular defects, cerebral dysplasias and a peculiar cognitive-behavioral profile. In this study, we generated knockout mice deficient in Eif4h. These mice displayed growth retardation with a significant reduction of body weight that began from the first week of postnatal development. Neuroanatomical profiling results generated by magnetic resonance imaging analysis revealed a smaller brain volume in null mice compared with controls as well as altered brain morphology, where anterior and posterior brain regions were differentially affected. The inactivation of Eif4h also led to a reduction in both the number and complexity of neurons. Behavioral studies revealed severe impairments of fear-related associative learning and memory formation. These alterations suggest that Eif4h might contribute to certain deficits associated with Williams-Beuren syndrome.
American Journal Of Pathology 03/2012; 180(3):1121-35. · 4.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The GDI1 gene encodes αGDI, which retrieves inactive GDP-bound RAB from membranes to form a cytosolic pool awaiting vesicular release. Mutations in GDI1 are responsible for X-linked Intellectual Disability. Characterization of the Gdi1-null mice has revealed alterations in the total number and distribution of hippocampal and cortical synaptic vesicles, hippocampal short-term synaptic plasticity and specific short-term memory deficits in adult mice, which are possibly caused by alterations of different synaptic vesicle recycling pathways controlled by several RAB GTPases. However, interpretation of these studies is complicated by the complete ablation of Gdi1 in all cells in the brain throughout development. In this study, we generated conditionally gene-targeted mice in which the knockout of Gdi1 is restricted to the forebrain, hippocampus, cortex and amygdala and occurs only during postnatal development. Adult mutant mice reproduce the short-term memory deficit previously reported in Gdi1-null mice. Surprisingly, the delayed ablation of Gdi1 worsens the pre-synaptic phenotype at cortico-amygdala synaptic connections compared to Gdi1-null mice. These results suggest a pivotal role of αGDI via specific RAB GTPases acting specifically in forebrain regions at the pre-synaptic sites involved in memory formation.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(1):e29763. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emerging evidence points to reactive glia as a pivotal factor in Parkinson's disease (PD) and 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-lesioned mouse model of basal ganglia injury, but whether astrocytes and microglia activation may exacerbate dopaminergic (DAergic) neuron demise and/or contribute to DAergic repair is presently the subject of much debate. Here, we have correlated the loss and recovery of the nigrostriatal DAergic functionality upon acute MPTP exposure with extensive gene expression analysis at the level of the ventral midbrain (VM) and striata (Str) and found a major upregulation of pro-inflammatory chemokines and wingless-type MMTV integration site1 (Wnt1), a key transcript involved in midbrain DAergic neurodevelopment. Wnt signaling components (including Frizzled-1 [Fzd-1] and β-catenin) were dynamically regulated during MPTP-induced DAergic degeneration and reactive glial activation. Activated astrocytes of the ventral midbrain were identified as candidate source of Wnt1 by in situ hybridization and real-time PCR in vitro. Blocking Wnt/Fzd signaling with Dickkopf-1 (Dkk1) counteracted astrocyte-induced neuroprotection against MPP(+) toxicity in primary mesencephalic astrocyte-neuron cultures, in vitro. Moreover, astroglial-derived factors, including Wnt1, promoted neurogenesis and DAergic neurogenesis from adult midbrain stem/neuroprogenitor cells, in vitro. Conversely, lack of Wnt1 transcription in response to MPTP in middle-aged mice and failure of DAergic neurons to recover were reversed by pharmacological activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling, in vivo, thus suggesting MPTP-reactive astrocytes in situ and Wnt1 as candidate components of neuroprotective/neurorescue pathways in MPTP-induced nigrostriatal DAergic plasticity.
Neurobiology of Disease 11/2010; 41(2):508-27. · 5.62 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human Mental Retardation (MR) is a common and highly heterogeneous pediatric disorder affecting around 3% of the general population; at least 215 X-linked MR (XLMR) conditions have been described, and mutations have been identified in 83 different genes, encoding proteins with a variety of function, such as chromatin remodeling, synaptic function, and intracellular trafficking. The small GTPases of the RAB family, which play an essential role in intracellular vesicular trafficking, have been shown to be involved in MR. We report here the identification of mutations in the small GTPase RAB39B gene in two male patients. One mutation in family X (D-23) introduced a stop codon seven amino acids after the start codon (c.21C > A; p.Y7X). A second mutation, in the MRX72 family, altered the 5' splice site (c.215+1G > A) and normal splicing. Neither instance produced a protein. Mutations segregate with the disease in the families, and in some family members intellectual disabilities were associated with autism spectrum disorder, epileptic seizures, and macrocephaly. We show that RAB39B, a novel RAB GTPase of unknown function, is a neuronal-specific protein that is localized to the Golgi compartment. Its downregulation leads to an alteration in the number and morphology of neurite growth cones and a significant reduction in presynaptic buttons, suggesting that RAB39B is required for synapse formation and maintenance. Our results demonstrate developmental and functional neuronal alteration as a consequence of downregulation of RAB39B and emphasize the critical role of vesicular trafficking in the development of neurons and human intellectual abilities.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 02/2010; 86(2):185-95. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this paper we report the results of gene expression profiling of C57Bl/6N mice hippocampus after trace fear conditioning (TFC), and the identification of genes regulated at early and late steps after conditioning. Several of the genes regulated at early steps following TFC appeared common to many training protocols. At later stages (2 and 6 h), most of the genes identified were different from those identified following other learning paradigms resulting in memory consolidation. At 6 h after training, few genes were upregulated in respect to the naïve condition, suggesting that many gene products have eventually to be downregulated to achieve stable synapses modification and memory formation. In conclusion, the results presented highlight a number of genes whose expression is specifically modified in the mouse hippocampus following TFC and demonstrate the specificity associated to different forms of conditioning.
Brain research 10/2009; 1308:14-23. · 2.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The GDI1 gene, responsible in human for X-linked non-specific mental retardation, encodes alphaGDI, a regulatory protein common to all GTPases of the Rab family. Its alteration, leading to membrane accumulation of different Rab GTPases, may affect multiple steps in neuronal intracellular traffic. Using electron microscopy and electrophysiology, we now report that lack of alphaGDI impairs several steps in synaptic vesicle (SV) biogenesis and recycling in the hippocampus. Alteration of the SV reserve pool (RP) and a 50% reduction in the total number of SV in adult synapses may be dependent on a defective endosomal-dependent recycling and may lead to the observed alterations in short-term plasticity. As predicted by the synaptic characteristics of the mutant mice, the short-term memory deficit, observed when using fear-conditioning protocols with short intervals between trials, disappeared when the Gdi1 mutants were allowed to have longer intervals between sessions. Likewise, previously observed deficits in radial maze learning could be corrected by providing less challenging pre-training. This implies that an intact RP of SVs is necessary for memory processing under challenging conditions in mice. The possibility to correct the learning deficit in mice may have clinical implication for future studies in human.
Human Molecular Genetics 11/2008; 18(1):105-17. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rho family GTPases have been implicated as important regulators of neuronal development. Rac3 is a member of this family specifically expressed in vertebrate developing neurons, where it is coexpressed with the ubiquitous Rac1 GTPase. We have previously shown that Rac3 knockout mice are viable and fertile. The Rac3 protein shows highest expression around postnatal day 7 in brain regions relevant for cognitive behaviors. In this study we find that Rac3 knockout mice do not show defects in spatial reference memory assessed with water maze task, but they show a reduced behavioral flexibility to novel situations. Analysis of explorative behavior revealed hyperactive behavior and hyperreactivity to the presentation of new stimuli, as assessed by dark/light box, emergence and novel object tests. These defects were not due to reduced visual abilities, since visual acuity and contrast sensitivity were comparable in Rac3 knockout and wildtype littermates. Our data reinforce the notion that Rho family GTPases are important for normal cognitive development, and highlight specific functions of Rac3 that cannot be compensated by the coexpressed homologous Rac1.
Behavioural Brain Research 02/2008; 186(2):246-55. · 3.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Midlatency event-related potentials (ERPs) reflect early stages in processing of modality specific information. In humans, the auditory midlatency ERPs most investigated are the P1, N1 and P2. Abnormalities of these ERPs in neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia point to deficits in information processing at early stages. Investigations of corresponding ERPs in mice might thus permit to elucidate the molecular biology of such abnormalities. We conducted studies in mice and humans in order to establish the correspondence of midlatency ERPs in mice to the human P1, N1 and P2. We investigated their so-called recovery function-i.e. their systematic amplitude changes as a function of varying stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA). Furthermore, we explored effects of specific genetic alterations (ERK1 gene deletion Gdi1 gene deletion) on this measure. In mice, P1-like activity showed a significant recovery not present in human data. In contrast, N1-like and P2-like activity in mice demonstrated similar recovery functions as the corresponding ERPs in human subjects and could be best fitted by the same function. In addition, ERK1 gene knockout mice showed a significantly different N1 recovery function compared to wild-type mice, possibly related to enhanced memory functions in these mice. Our results indicate that midlatency ERPs in mice share some, but not all, characteristics with the human P1, N1 and P2. As in humans, N1 recovery may provide an assessment of auditory sensory memory function. Investigations of these ERPs in mice may thus permit to elucidate the abnormalities underlying deficient generation of these ERPs in neuropsychiatric disorders.
Brain Research 10/2004; 1019(1-2):189-200. · 2.88 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rab proteins are small GTPases involved in intracellular trafficking. Among the 60 different Rab proteins described in mammals, Rab3a is the most abundant in brain, where it is involved in synaptic vesicle fusion and neurotransmitter release. Rab3a constitutive knockout mice (Rab3a(-/-)) are characterized by deficient short- and long-term synaptic plasticity in the mossy fiber pathway and altered circadian motor activity, while no effects on spatial learning have been reported so far for these mice. The goals of this study were to analyse possible behavioral consequences of the lack of synaptic plasticity in the mossy fiber pathway using a broad battery of sensitive behavioral measures that has been used previously to analyse the behavior of Gdi1 mice lacking a protein thought to regulate Rab3a. Rab3a(-/-) mice showed normal acquisition but moderately impaired platform reversal learning in the water maze including reference memory and episodic-like memory tasks. A mild deficit in spatial working memory was also observed when tested in the radial maze. Analysis of explorative behavior revealed increased locomotor activity and enhanced exploratory activity in open field, O-maze, dark/light box and novel object tests. Spontaneous activity in normal home cage settings was unaffected but Rab3a(-/-) mice showed increased motor activity when the home cage was equipped with a wheel. No differences were found for delayed and trace fear conditioning or for conditioned taste aversion learning. Congruent with earlier data, these results suggest that Rab3a-dependent synaptic plasticity might play a specific role in the reactivity to novel stimuli and behavioral stability rather than being involved in memory processing. On the other hand, the phenotypic changes in the Rab3a(-/-) mice bore no relation to the behavioral changes as observed in the Gdi1 mice. Such divergence in phenotypes implies that the putative synaptic interaction between Gdi1 and Rab3a should be reconsidered and re-analysed.
European Journal of Neuroscience 05/2004; 19(7):1895-905. · 3.75 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutation screening of the RAB3A gene in 47 individuals with autism provided no evidence that DNA variants in this gene are associated with autism. Since Rab3a constitutive knockout mice react to novel stimuli with hyperactivity, a further search for association of RAB3A DNA variants with other neurobehavioral disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder appears justified.
Genes Brain and Behavior 05/2004; 3(2):123-4. · 3.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neurofibrillary tangles, insoluble protein deposits composed of filamentous tau aggregates, are neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease and familial frontotemporal dementia (FTDP-17). Transgenic mice expressing the FTDP-17 mutation P301L of tau recapitulate key features of the human pathology, that is, tau proteins aggregate and neurofibrillary tangles begin to appear in the amygdala at 6 months of age. To detect early signs of tau aggregate-associated changes, we investigated behavioral alterations and cognitive deficits in such mice using an amygdala-specific test battery for anxiety-related and cognitive behavior. P301L mice had anxiety levels not different from wild-types, but their exploratory behavior was significantly increased. Acquisition of a fear response to tone and context as well as taste aversion was comparable to wild-types. However, extinction of a conditioned taste aversion was significantly accelerated. We conclude that already aggregation of tau proteins not yet accompanied by massive formation of neurofibrillary tangles causes selective behavioral deficits.
Neurobiology of Disease 05/2004; 15(3):500-9. · 5.62 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Non-specific mental retardation (NSMR) is a common human disorder characterized by mental handicap as the only clinical symptom. Among the recently identified MR genes is GDI1, which encodes alpha Gdi, one of the proteins controlling the activity of the small GTPases of the Rab family in vesicle fusion and intracellular trafficking. We report the cognitive and behavioral characterization of mice carrying a deletion of Gdi1. The Gdi1-deficient mice are fertile and anatomically normal. They appear normal also in many tasks to assess spatial and episodic memory and emotional behavior. Gdi1-deficient mice are impaired in tasks requiring formation of short-term temporal associations, suggesting a defect in short-term memory. In addition, they show lowered aggression and altered social behavior. In mice, as in humans, lack of Gdi1 spares most central nervous system functions and preferentially impairs only a few forebrain functions required to form temporal associations. The general similarity to human mental retardation is striking, and suggests that the Gdi1 mutants may provide insights into the human defect and into the molecular mechanisms important for development of cognitive functions.
Human Molecular Genetics 11/2002; 11(21):2567-80. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conditioned taste aversion (CTA) is a well established learning and memory paradigm in rats and mice that is considered to be a special form of classical conditioning. Rodents — as well as many other species including man — learn to associate a novel taste (CS) with nausea (US), and as a consequence avoid drinking fluid with this specific taste. In contrast to other types of classical conditioning, even CS–US intervals lasting several hours lead to an aversion to the gustatory CS. With increasing CS–US delay duration, however, the aversion against the CS gradually decreases. Mice differ from rats in their reaction to the CS as well as the US. They tolerate a much higher concentration of saccharin and they do not show any clear signs of nausea when injected with the US. Advantages of this task are its relative independence of motor behavior, well described pathways for the CS and partly the US, and the wealth of available anatomical and pharmacological data implying several brain structures (e.g. parabrachial nucleus, amygdala, insular cortex), neurotransmitters and their receptors (e.g. cholinergic system, NMDA-receptors), and cellular processes (e.g. expression of immediate early genes, Ras–MAP kinase signaling pathway, CREB phosphorilation, protein tyrosine phosphorilation, protein synthesis) in CTA. The CTA paradigm has also been successfully used to phenotype mouse mutants.
Behavioural Brain Research 12/2001; · 3.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Heterozygous mutations in the X-linked MECP2 gene cause Rett syndrome, a severe neurodevelopmental disorder of young females. Only one male presenting an MECP2 mutation has been reported; he survived only to age 1 year, suggesting that mutations in MECP2 are male lethal. Here we report a three-generation family in which two affected males showed severe mental retardation and progressive spasticity, previously mapped in Xq27.2-qter. Two obligate carrier females showed either normal or borderline intelligence, simulating an X-linked recessive trait. The two males and the two obligate carrier females presented a mutation in the MECP2 gene, demonstrating that, in males, MECP2 can be responsible for severe mental retardation associated with neurological disorders.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 11/2000; 67(4):982-5. · 11.20 Impact Factor