Craig Blackstone

National Institutes of Health, Maryland, United States

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Publications (63)468.72 Total impact

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    Jaerak Chang, Seongju Lee, Craig Blackstone
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    ABSTRACT: Autophagy allows cells to adapt to changes in their environment by coordinating the degradation and recycling of cellular components and organelles to maintain homeostasis. Lysosomes are organelles critical for terminating autophagy via their fusion with mature autophagosomes to generate autolysosomes that degrade autophagic materials; therefore, maintenance of the lysosomal population is essential for autophagy-dependent cellular clearance. Here, we have demonstrated that the two most common autosomal recessive hereditary spastic paraplegia gene products, the SPG15 protein spastizin and the SPG11 protein spatacsin, are pivotal for autophagic lysosome reformation (ALR), a pathway that generates new lysosomes. Lysosomal targeting of spastizin required an intact FYVE domain, which binds phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate. Loss of spastizin or spatacsin resulted in depletion of free lysosomes, which are competent to fuse with autophagosomes, and an accumulation of autolysosomes, reflecting a failure in ALR. Moreover, spastizin and spatacsin were essential components for the initiation of lysosomal tubulation. Together, these results link dysfunction of the autophagy/lysosomal biogenesis machinery to neurodegeneration.
    The Journal of clinical investigation. 11/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in MYH7 cause autosomal dominant Laing distal myopathy. We present a family with a previously reported deletion (c.5186_5188delAGA, p.K1729del). Muscle pathology in one family member was characterized by an inflammatory myopathy with rimmed vacuoles, increased MHC Class I expression, and perivascular and endomysial muscle inflammation comprising CD3+, CD4+, CD8+, and CD68+ inflammatory cells. Interestingly, this biopsy specimen contained TDP-43, p62, and SMI-31-positive protein aggregates typical of inclusion body myositis. These findings should alert physicians to the possibility that patients with MYH7 mutations may have muscle biopsies showing pathologic findings similar to inclusion body myositis.
    Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. 11/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Hereditary spastic paraplegias are a large, diverse group of neurological disorders (SPG1-71) with the unifying feature of prominent lower extremity spasticity, due to a length-dependent axonopathy of corticospinal motor neurons. The most common early-onset form of pure, autosomal dominant hereditary spastic paraplegia is caused by mutation in the ATL1 gene encoding the atlastin-1 GTPase, which mediates homotypic fusion of ER tubules to form the polygonal ER network. We have identified a p.Pro342Ser mutation in a young girl with pure SPG3A. This residue is in a critical hinge region of atlastin-1 between its GTPase and assembly domains, and it is conserved in all known eukaryotic atlastin orthologs. We produced induced pluripotent stem cells from skin fibroblasts and differentiated these into forebrain neurons to generate a human neuronal model for SPG3A. Axons of these SPG3A neurons showed impaired growth, recapitulating axonal defects in atlastin-1-depleted rat cortical neurons and impaired root hair growth in loss-of-function mutants of the ATL1 ortholog rhd3 in the plant Arabidopsis. Both the microtubule cytoskeleton and tubular ER are important for mitochondrial distribution and function within cells, and SPG3A neurons showed alterations in mitochondrial motility. Even so, it is not clear whether this change is involved in disease pathogenesis. The SPG3A axon growth defects could be rescued with microtubule-binding agents, emphasizing the importance of tubular ER interactions with the microtubule cytoskeleton in hereditary spastic paraplegia pathogenesis. The prominent alterations in axon growth in SPG3A neurons may represent a particularly attractive target for suppression in screens for novel pharmacologic agents.
    Human Molecular Genetics 06/2014; · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 2 (AOA2) is an autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia associated with mutations in SETX, which encodes the senataxin protein, a DNA/RNA helicase. We describe the clinical phenotype and molecular characterization of a Colombian AOA2 patient who is compound heterozygous for a c.994 C>T (p.R332W) missense mutation in exon 7 and a c.6848_6851delCAGA (p.T2283KfsX32) frameshift deletion in SETX exon 21. Immunocytochemistry of patient-derived fibroblasts revealed a normal cellular distribution of the senataxin protein, suggesting that these mutations do not lead to loss or mis-localization of the protein, but rather that aberrant function of senataxin underlies the disease pathogenesis. Furthermore, we used the alkaline comet assay to demonstrate that patient-derived fibroblast cells exhibit an increased susceptibility to oxidative DNA damage. This assay provides a novel and additional means to establish pathogenicity of SETX mutations.
    Journal of Clinical Neuroscience 05/2014; · 1.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are among the most genetically diverse inherited neurological disorders, with over 70 disease loci identified (SPG1-71) to date. SPG15 and SPG11 are clinically similar, autosomal recessive disorders characterized by progressive spastic paraplegia along with thin corpus callosum, white matter abnormalities, cognitive impairment, and ophthalmologic abnormalities. Furthermore, both have been linked to early-onset parkinsonism.Methods We describe two new cases of SPG15 and investigate cellular changes in SPG15 and SPG11 patient-derived fibroblasts, seeking to identify shared pathogenic themes. Cells were evaluated for any abnormalities in cell division, DNA repair, endoplasmic reticulum, endosomes, and lysosomes.ResultsFibroblasts prepared from patients with SPG15 have selective enlargement of LAMP1-positive structures, and they consistently exhibited abnormal lysosomal storage by electron microscopy. A similar enlargement of LAMP1-positive structures was also observed in cells from multiple SPG11 patients, though prominent abnormal lysosomal storage was not evident. The stabilities of the SPG15 protein spastizin/ZFYVE26 and the SPG11 protein spatacsin were interdependent.InterpretationEmerging studies implicating these two proteins in interactions with the late endosomal/lysosomal adaptor protein complex AP-5 are consistent with shared abnormalities in lysosomes, supporting a converging mechanism for these two disorders. Recent work with Zfyve26−/− mice revealed a similar phenotype to human SPG15, and cells in these mice had endolysosomal abnormalities. SPG15 and SPG11 are particularly notable among HSPs because they can also present with juvenile parkinsonism, and this lysosomal trafficking or storage defect may be relevant for other forms of parkinsonism associated with lysosomal dysfunction.
    Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. 05/2014;
  • Craig Blackstone
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    ABSTRACT: •Huntington's disease is a severe, progressive, inherited neuropsychiatric disorder•Huntington's disease has been intensively studied for almost 150 years•Recent investigations have emphasized several key pathogenic themes•The broad interest in Huntington's disease ensures new therapeutic ideas and trials
    Drug discovery today 04/2014; · 6.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are a genetically diverse group of inherited neurological disorders (SPG1-72) with the cardinal feature of prominent lower-extremity spasticity due to a length-dependent axonopathy of corticospinal motor neurons. The most frequent form of autosomal dominant HSP results from mutations of the SPG4 gene product spastin. This is an ATPase associated with diverse cellular activities (AAA) protein that binds to and severs microtubules. While spastin participates in crucial cellular processes such as cytokinesis, endosomal tubulation, and axon development, its role in HSP pathogenesis remains unclear. Spastin interacts in cells with the NA14 protein, a major target for auto-antibodies in Sjögren's syndrome (nuclear autoantigen 1; SSNA1). Our analysis of endogenous spastin and NA14 proteins in HeLa cells and rat cortical neurons in primary culture revealed a clear distribution of both proteins to centrosomes, with NA14 localizing specifically to centrioles. Stable NA14 knockdown in cell lines dramatically affected cell division, in particular cytokinesis. Furthermore, overexpression of NA14 in neurons significantly increased axon outgrowth and branching, while also enhancing neuronal differentiation. We postulate that NA14 may act as an adaptor protein regulating spastin localization to centrosomes, temporally and spatially regulating the microtubule-severing activity of spastin that is particularly critical during the cell cycle and neuronal development.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(11):e112428. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 2 (AOA2) is an autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia associated with mutations in SETX, which encodes the senataxin protein, a DNA/RNA helicase. We describe the clinical phenotype and molecular characterization of a Colombian AOA2 patient who is compound heterozygous for a c.994 C>T (p.R332W) missense mutation in exon 7 and a c.6848_6851delCAGA (p.T2283KfsX32) frameshift deletion in SETX exon 21. Immunocytochemistry of patient-derived fibroblasts revealed a normal cellular distribution of the senataxin protein, suggesting that these mutations do not lead to loss or mis-localization of the protein, but rather that aberrant function of senataxin underlies the disease pathogenesis. Furthermore, we used the alkaline comet assay to demonstrate that patient-derived fibroblast cells exhibit an increased susceptibility to oxidative DNA damage. This assay provides a novel and additional means to establish pathogenicity of SETX mutations.
    Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Human neuronal models of hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSP) that recapitulate disease-specific axonal pathology hold the key to understanding why certain axons degenerate in patients and to developing therapies. SPG4, the most common form of HSP, is caused by autosomal dominant mutations in the SPAST gene, which encodes the microtubule-severing ATPase spastin. Here, we have generated a human neuronal model of SPG4 by establishing induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from an SPG4 patient and differentiating these cells into telencephalic glutamatergic neurons. The SPG4 neurons displayed a significant increase in axonal swellings, which stained strongly for mitochondria and tau, indicating the accumulation of axonal transport cargoes. In addition, mitochondrial transport was decreased in SPG4 neurons, revealing that these patient iPSC-derived neurons recapitulate disease-specific axonal phenotypes. Interestingly, spastin protein levels were significantly decreased in SPG4 neurons, supporting a haploinsufficiency mechanism. Furthermore, cortical neurons derived from spastin-knockdown human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) exhibited similar axonal swellings, confirming that the axonal defects can be caused by loss of spastin function. These spastin-knockdown hESCs serve as an additional model for studying HSP. Finally, levels of stabilized acetylated-tubulin were significantly increased in SPG4 neurons. Vinblastine, a microtubule-destabilizing drug, rescued this axonal swelling phenotype in neurons derived from both SPG4 iPSCs and spastin-knockdown hESCs. Thus, this study demonstrates the successful establishment of human pluripotent stem cell-based neuronal models of SPG4, which will be valuable for dissecting the pathogenic cellular mechanisms and screening compounds to rescue the axonal degeneration in HSP. Stem Cells 2013.
    Stem Cells 10/2013; · 7.70 Impact Factor
  • Jaerak Chang, Seongju Lee, Craig Blackstone
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    ABSTRACT: Hereditary spastic paraplegias are inherited neurological disorders characterized by progressive lower-limb spasticity and weakness. Although more than 50 genetic loci are known [spastic gait (SPG)1 to -57], over half of hereditary spastic paraplegia cases are caused by pathogenic mutations in four genes encoding proteins that function in tubular endoplasmic reticulum (ER) network formation: atlastin-1 (SPG3A), spastin (SPG4), reticulon 2 (SPG12), and receptor expression-enhancing protein 1 (SPG31). Here, we show that the SPG33 protein protrudin contains hydrophobic, intramembrane hairpin domains, interacts with tubular ER proteins, and functions in ER morphogenesis by regulating the sheet-to-tubule balance and possibly the density of tubule interconnections. Protrudin also interacts with KIF5 and harbors a Rab-binding domain, a noncanonical FYVE (Fab-1, YGL023, Vps27, and EEA1) domain, and a two phenylalanines in an acidic tract (FFAT) domain and, thus, may also function in the distribution of ER tubules via ER contacts with the plasma membrane or other organelles.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report here the genetic basis for a form of progressive hereditary spastic paraplegia (SPG43) previously described in two Malian sisters. Exome sequencing revealed a homozygous missense variant (c.187G>C; p.Ala63Pro) in C19orf12, a gene recently implicated in neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA). The same mutation was subsequently also found in a Brazilian family with features of NBIA, and we identified another NBIA patient with a three-nucleotide deletion (c.197_199del; p.Gly66del). Haplotype analysis revealed that the p.Ala163Pro mutations have a common origin, but MRI scans showed no brain iron deposition in the Malian SPG43 subjects. Heterologous expression of these SPG43 and NBIA variants resulted in similar alterations in the subcellular distribution of C19orf12. The SPG43 and NBIA variants reported here as well as the most common C19orf12 missense mutation reported in NBIA patients are found within a highly-conserved, extended hydrophobic domain in C19orf12, underscoring the functional importance of this domain.
    Human Mutation 07/2013; · 5.21 Impact Factor
  • Clinical Genetics 06/2013; · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    Cell Reports. 05/2013; 3(5):1465–1475.
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    ABSTRACT: Lipid droplets (LDs) are the major fat storage organelles in eukaryotic cells, but how their size is regulated is unknown. Using genetic screens in C. elegans for LD morphology defects in intestinal cells, we found that mutations in atlastin, a GTPase required for homotypic fusion of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes, cause not only ER morphology defects, but also a reduction in LD size. Similar results were obtained after depletion of atlastin or expression of a dominant-negative mutant, whereas overexpression of atlastin had the opposite effect. Atlastin depletion in Drosophila fat bodies also reduced LD size and decreased triglycerides in whole animals, sensitizing them to starvation. In mammalian cells, co-overexpression of atlastin-1 and REEP1, a paralog of the ER tubule-shaping protein DP1/REEP5, generates large LDs. The effect of atlastin-1 on LD size correlates with its activity to promote membrane fusion in vitro. Our results indicate that atlastin-mediated fusion of ER membranes is important for LD size regulation.
    Cell Reports 05/2013; · 7.21 Impact Factor
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    Caroline A Anderson, Craig Blackstone
    The EMBO Journal 04/2013; · 9.82 Impact Factor
  • Uma Goyal, Craig Blackstone
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    ABSTRACT: The ER is a continuous membrane system consisting of the nuclear envelope, flat sheets often studded with ribosomes, and a polygonal network of highly-curved tubules extending throughout the cell. Although protein and lipid biosynthesis, protein modification, vesicular transport, Ca(2+)dynamics, and protein quality control have been investigated in great detail, mechanisms that generate the distinctive architecture of the ER have been uncovered only recently. Several protein families including the reticulons and REEPs/DP1/Yop1p harbor hydrophobic hairpin domains that shape high-curvature ER tubules and mediate intramembrane protein interactions. Members of the atlastin/RHD3/Sey1p family of dynamin-related GTPases interact with the ER-shaping proteins and mediate the formation of three-way junctions responsible for the polygonal structure of the tubular ER network, with Lunapark proteins acting antagonistically. Additional classes of tubular ER proteins including some REEPs and the M1 spastin ATPase interact with the microtubule cytoskeleton. Flat ER sheets possess a different complement of proteins such as p180, CLIMP-63 and kinectin implicated in shaping, cisternal stacking and cytoskeletal interactions. The ER is also in constant motion, and numerous signaling pathways as well as interactions among cytoskeletal elements, the plasma membrane, and organelles cooperate to position and shape the ER dynamically. Finally, many proteins involved in shaping the ER network are mutated in the most common forms of hereditary spastic paraplegia, indicating a particular importance for proper ER morphology and distribution in large, highly-polarized cells such as neurons. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled:Functional and structural diversity of endoplasmic reticulum.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 04/2013; · 4.66 Impact Factor
  • Jaerak Chang, Craig Blackstone
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    ABSTRACT: The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a heterogeneous organelle with distinct morphologies of sheets and an interconnected network of tubules sharing a common lumen. An ER domain marked by the Rab10 GTPase and several lipid-synthesizing enzymes is implicated in dynamic ER tubule formation and fusion events in cells.
    Nature Cell Biology 12/2012; 15(2):135-6. · 20.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neuronal cell death via apoptosis or necrosis underlies several devastating neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging. Mitochondrial dysfunction resulting from oxidative or nitrosative stress often acts as an initiating stimulus for intrinsic apoptosis or necrosis. These events frequently occur in conjunction with imbalances in the mitochondrial fission and fusion equilibrium, although the cause and effect relationships remain elusive. Here, we demonstrate in primary rat cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) that oxidative or nitrosative stress induces an N-terminal cleavage of optic atrophy-1 (OPA1), a dynamin-like GTPase that regulates mitochondrial fusion and maintenance of cristae architecture. This cleavage event is indistinguishable from the N-terminal cleavage of OPA1 observed in CGNs undergoing caspase-mediated apoptosis (Loucks et al., 2009) and results in removal of a key lysine residue (K301) within the GTPase domain. OPA1 cleavage in CGNs occurs coincident with extensive mitochondrial fragmentation, disruption of the microtubule network, and cell death. In contrast to OPA1 cleavage induced in CGNs by removing depolarizing extracellular potassium (5K apoptotic conditions), oxidative or nitrosative stress-induced OPA1 cleavage caused by complex I inhibition or nitric oxide, respectively, is caspase-independent. N-terminal cleavage of OPA1 is also observed in vivo in aged rat and mouse midbrain and hippocampal tissues. We conclude that N-terminal cleavage and subsequent inactivation of OPA1 may be a contributing factor in the neuronal cell death processes underlying neurodegenerative diseases, particularly those associated with aging. Furthermore, these data suggest that OPA1 cleavage is a likely convergence point for mitochondrial dysfunction and imbalances in mitochondrial fission and fusion induced by oxidative or nitrosative stress.
    Brain research 12/2012; · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Diverse cellular processes including multivesicular body formation, cytokinesis and viral budding require the sequential functions of endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT- 0 to -III). Of these multiprotein complexes, ESCRT-III in particular plays a key role in mediating membrane fission events by forming large, ring-like helical arrays. A number of proteins playing key effector roles, most notably the AAA (ATPases associated with diverse cellular activities) ATPase VPS4, harbor MIT (present in microtubule interacting and trafficking molecules) domains comprising asymmetric three-helical bundles which interact with helical MIT-interacting motifs in ESCRT-III subunits. Here we assessed comprehensively the ESCRT-III interactions of the MIT domain family member MITD1 and identified strong interactions with CHMP1B, CHMP2A, and IST1. We show that these ESCRT-III subunits are important for the recruitment of MITD1 to the midbody, and MITD1 participates in the abscission phase of cytokinesis. MITD1 also oligomerizes through its C-terminal domain. Both types of interactions appear important for the role of MITD1 in negatively regulating the interaction of IST1 with VPS4. Since IST1 binding in turn regulates VPS4, MITD1 may function through downstream effects on the activity of VPS4, which plays a critical role in the processing and remodeling of ESCRT filaments in abscission.
    Molecular biology of the cell 09/2012; · 5.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs; SPG1-48) are inherited neurological disorders characterized by lower extremity spasticity and weakness. Loss-of-function mutations in the SPG20 gene encoding spartin cause autosomal recessive Troyer syndrome (SPG20), which has additional features of short stature, cognitive deficits and distal amyotrophy. To identify cellular impairments underlying Troyer syndrome, we generated Spg20-/- mice, which exhibit progressive gait defects. Although gross central nervous system pathology appeared largely normal, cerebral cortical neurons cultured from neonatal Spg20-/- mice exhibited increased axon branching, a phenotype suppressed by reintroducing spartin and which required its interaction with the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT)-III protein IST1. Analysis of the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling pathway in Spg20-/- embryonic fibroblasts indicated that Smad1/5 phosphorylation is modestly elevated, possibly due to alterations in BMP receptor trafficking. Cytokinesis was impaired in embryonic fibroblasts cultured from Spg20-/- mice, and binucleated chondrocytes were prominent in epiphyseal growth plates of bones in Spg20-/- mice, perhaps explaining the short stature of patients. Finally, adipose tissue from Spg20-/- female mice exhibited increased lipid droplet (LD) numbers and alterations in perilipin levels, supporting a role for spartin in LD maintenance. Taken together, our results support multimodal functions for spartin that provide important insights into HSP pathogenesis.
    Human Molecular Genetics 05/2012; 21(16):3604-18. · 7.69 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
468.72 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2002–2014
    • National Institutes of Health
      • • Branch of Neurogenetics
      • • Unit on Cellular Polarity
      Maryland, United States
  • 2010
    • National Tsing Hua University
      Hsin-chu-hsien, Taiwan, Taiwan
  • 2009
    • Harvard Medical School
      • Department of Cell Biology
      Boston, MA, United States
    • Texas A&M University - Commerce
      • Department of Biological and Environmental Science
      Commerce, TX, United States
  • 2008
    • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
      Maryland, United States
  • 2007
    • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
      Maryland, United States
  • 1999
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
      • Department of Neurology
      Boston, MA, United States