[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cortical dysplasias (CDs) include a spectrum of cerebral lesions resulting from cortical development abnormalities during embryogenesis that lead to cognitive disabilities and epilepsy. The experimental model of CD obtained by means of in utero administration of BCNU (1-3-bis-chloroethyl-nitrosurea) to pregnant rats on embryonic day 15 mimics the histopathological abnormalities observed in many patients. The aim of this study was to investigate the behavioural, electrophysiological and anatomical profile of BCNU-treated rats in order to determine whether cortical and hippocampal lesions can directly lead to cognitive dysfunction. The BCNU-treated rats showed impaired short-term working memory but intact long-term aversive memory, whereas their spontaneous motor activity and anxiety-like response were normal. The histopathological and immunohistochemical analyses, made after behavioural tests, revealed the disrupted integrity of neuronal populations and connecting fibres in hippocampus and prefrontal and entorhinal cortices, which are involved in memory processes. An electrophysiological evaluation of the CA1 region of in vitro hippocampal slices indicated a decrease in the efficiency of excitatory synaptic transmission and impaired paired pulse facilitation, but enhanced long-term potentiation (LTP) associated with hyperexcitability in BCNU-treated rats compared with controls. The enhanced LTP, associated with hyperexcitability, may indicate a pathological distortion of long-term plasticity. These findings suggest that prenatal developmental insults at the time of peak cortical neurogenesis can induce anatomical abnormalities associated with severe impairment of spatial working memory in adult BCNU-treated rats and may help to clarify the pathophysiological mechanisms of cognitive dysfunction that is often associated with epilepsy in patients with CD.
European Journal of Neuroscience 10/2012; 37(1). DOI:10.1111/ejn.12032 · 3.18 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neuropathologic investigations frequently reveal the presence of architectural cortical dysplasia in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), sometimes as an isolated finding but more commonly associated with hippocampal sclerosis (HS) and white matter abnormalities. The histologic pattern and the developmental origin of these alterations are not clear, and their diagnostic criteria are poorly defined. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression patterns of layer-specific genes in cortical specimens from patients with TLE presenting different subtypes of cortical malformations in order to elucidate the disorganization of the laminar architecture of such epileptogenic abnormalities and provide evidence to enable a more objective neuropathologic diagnosis.
We analyzed the expression patterns of CUX2, RORBETA, ER81, NURR1, and CTGF genes, respectively specific markers of layers II-III, IV, V, VI, and VIb, in surgical samples by means of in situ hybridization and compared them with those observed in control cortices. The pathologic samples included typical architectural dysplasia (group 1); temporal lobe sclerosis, a variant of architectural dysplasia (group 2); and white matter heterotopic neuronal aggregates, namely small lentiform nodules (group 3). These abnormalities may have been associated or not with HS.
All of the genes had a laminar expression pattern in normal cortices, whereas groups 1 and 2 showed alterations mainly involving layers V and VI, and highlighted by the altered distribution of ER81- and NURR1-positive cells. The expression of ER81 and NURR1 genes was different among the groups, and atypical coexpression of NURR1 and CUX2 mRNA was detected in the neurons making up the small lentiform nodules.
These findings indicate that defects in cortical organization involving the deeper cortical neurons may be a common etiopathogenic mechanism in group 1 and 2 cortical dysplasia, whether isolated or associated with HS, and that developmental disorders may also be present in the white matter (group 3). They also provide evidence that the layer-specific genes can be usefully used to investigate the neuropathology of human cortical dysplasia.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The 1-3-bis-chloroethyl-nitrosurea (BCNU)-treated rats represent a good model of cortical dysplasia (CD), as proved by the presence of some histological alterations similar to those observed in human CD, including cortical thinning, laminar disorganization, and heterotopia. The cortical cytoarchitectonics of BCNU-treated rats has been widely investigated by means of histological procedures, immunocytochemistry, and in situ hybridization techniques, implying the sacrifice of the animals. With the aim of identifying brain alterations in vivo to have the possibility of performing longitudinal studies, we used both conventional T(2)-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and manganese-enhanced MRI (MEMRI). Though the T(2)-weighted MRI showed the gross anatomical landmarks of BCNU-treated rats, only following Mn(2+) administration T(1)-weighted MRI did reveal the brain cytoarchitectonics both of control and BCNU-treated rats. In particular, changes in MEMRI signal depicted the laminar architecture of control rats while BCNU-treated cortex showed no appreciable changes in MEMRI contrast, consistent with their abnormal cortical lamination. Furthermore, in the treated animals MEMRI revealed hyperintense signals corresponding to heterotopia, as shown by the comparison between MEMRI images and Thionin staining and calbindin immunocytochemistry from the same animals. The qualitative findings obtained with MEMRI were semi-quantitatively confirmed by image segmentation of grey matter. Overall, these data show that MEMRI can be used as a non-invasive technique to investigate cortical alterations in animal models of CD in vivo, giving the possibility to perform longitudinal studies, such as electrophysiological recordings or behavioural investigations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cortical dysplasia (CD) comprises a wide range of cerebral cortex alterations ranging from severe brain malformations to local disruption of the cortical structure. Most hypotheses focused on the role of embryonic/perinatal development insults as the main cause for the majority of CD. Rats with prenatal exposure to BCNU (1-3-bis-chloroethyl-nitrosurea) represent an injury-based model and reproduce many anatomical features seen in human patients with CD, such as altered cortical layering and the presence of heterotopia and dysmorphic/heterotopic neurons. With the aim to investigate the formation and evolution of CD during development, we analysed the expression of a panel of layer-specific genes (Nurr1, Er81, Ror-β and Cux2, markers of layers VI, V, IV and superficial layers, respectively) in BCNU-treated cortices from E17 to postnatal day 14. By means of appropriate immunohistochemical markers, we also analysed the structural organization of embryonic ventricular zone and of glial and axonal fibres, substrates supporting radial and tangential migration, respectively. The main results of the present study are: (i) the ventricular zone appeared disorganized and the neuroependyma was partially disrupted; (ii) radial glia scaffold and tangential fibres were deeply disarranged, thus explaining the neuronal migration defects; (iii) cortical heterotopia were detectable by E19, whereas periventricular heterotopia were detectable after birth; (iv) both cortical and periventricular heterotopia showed a pseudo-laminar structure, with cells of the upper cortical layers in the core of the nodules and cells of layer IV and V at their border; (v) the distribution of GABAergic cells was altered since the embryonic stages, as a consequence of the derangement of tangential fibres. Our analysis sheds light on how a malformed cortex develops after a temporally discrete environmental insult and adds additional knowledge on specific aspects of the etiopathogenesis of CD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MAP/microtubule affinity-regulating kinase 4 (MARK4) is a serine-threonine kinase expressed in two spliced isoforms, MARK4L and MARK4S, of which MARK4L is a candidate for a role in neoplastic transformation.
We performed mutation analysis to identify sequence alterations possibly affecting MARK4 expression. We then investigated the MARK4L and MARK4S expression profile in 21 glioma cell lines and 36 tissues of different malignancy grades, glioblastoma-derived cancer stem cells (GBM CSCs) and mouse neural stem cells (NSCs) by real-time PCR, immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry. We also analyzed the sub-cellular localisation of MARK4 isoforms in glioma and normal cell lines by immunofluorescence.
Mutation analysis rules out sequence variations as the cause of the altered MARK4 expression in glioma. Expression profiling confirms that MARK4L is the predominant isoform, whereas MARK4S levels are significantly decreased in comparison and show an inverse correlation with tumour grade. A high MARK4L/MARK4S ratio also characterizes undifferentiated cells, such as GBM CSCs and NSCs. Accordingly, only MARK4L is expressed in brain neurogenic regions. Moreover, while both MARK4 isoforms are localised to the centrosome and midbody in glioma and normal cells, the L isoform exhibits an additional nucleolar localisation in tumour cells.
The observed switch towards MARK4L suggests that the balance between the MARK4 isoforms is carefully guarded during neural differentiation but may be subverted in gliomagenesis. Moreover, the MARK4L nucleolar localisation in tumour cells features this MARK4 isoform as a nucleolus-associated tumour marker.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To define distinctive features of nodular heterotopia in specimens derived from drug-resistant patients with epilepsy by evaluating mRNA expression of three different layer-specific markers: Rorbeta, Er81, and Nurr1.
We analyzed the expression profile of these genes, recognized as markers mainly expressed in layer IV for Rorbeta, in layer V for Er81, and in layer VI for Nurr1, in surgical samples from 14 epileptic patients, using in situ hybridization. Six patients had subcortical nodular heterotopia and 8 patients were controls. The intrinsic organization of nodular formations and of the overlaying neocortex was assessed.
In all patients, the 3 selected genes showed high cortical laminar specificity. In subcortical nodular heterotopia, the different gene expression profiles revealed a rudimentary laminar organization of the nodules. In the overlaying cortex, fewer cells expressed the 3 genes in the appropriate specific layer as compared to controls.
These data provide new insights into possible ontogenetic mechanisms of nodular heterotopia formation and show the potential role of layer-specific markers to elucidate the neuropathology of malformations of cortical development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The experimental model of cortical dysplasia (CD) obtained by administering carmustine (1-3-bis-chloroethyl-nitrosurea [BCNU]) in pregnant rat uterus mimics the histopathological abnormalities observed in human CD patients: altered cortical layering, and presence of heterotopia and dysmorphic/heterotopic neurons. To investigate further the cortical layering disruption and the neuronal composition of heterotopia in BCNU-exposed cortex, we analyzed the expression pattern of the transcription factors Nurr1, Er81, Ror-beta, and Cux2 (respectively specific markers of layers VI, V, IV and superficial layers) in the cortical areas of BCNU-treated rats by means of in situ hybridization, and compared the findings with those observed in adult control rats. Combining in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry we also investigated the origin of dysmorphic or heterotopic neurons. The main results of the present study are (i) the analysis of cortical layer thickness revealed that the cortical thinning in the BCNU model was prevalently restricted to the superficial layers; (ii) in cortical and periventricular heterotopia, the prevalent presence of superficial layer neurons in the internal areas, and deeper layer neurons in a more peripheral region, demonstrated a rudimentary pattern of laminar organization in nodule formation; and (iii) the Er81 signal in the dysmorphic and heterotopic pyramidal neurons located in layers I/II showed that they belong to layer V. These results shed light on the disorganization of the laminar architecture of the BCNU model by providing correlations with normal cortical layering and revealing the ontogenesis of heterotopia and heterotopic/dysmorphic neurons. They also provide strong evidence of the usefulness of layer-specific markers in investigating the neuropathology of CD, thus opening up the possibility of expanding their application to human neuropathology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cortical dysplasia (CD) represents a wide range of histopathological abnormalities of the cortical mantle that are frequently associated with drug-resistant epilepsy. Recently, carmustine (1-3-bis-chloroethyl-nitrosurea [BCNU]), given to pregnant rats on embryonic day (E) 15, has been used to develop an experimental model mimicking human CD. The aim of this study was to characterize cytological and histological alterations in this model, and compare the results with those observed in human CD.
Pregnant rats were given intraperitoneal injections of BCNU on E15. Sections of cerebral cortex from adult BCNU-treated rats were cytoarchitecturally and immunohistochemically analyzed using anti-SMI311, anticalbindin (CB), and antiparvalbumin (PV) antibodies. The density of the PV-immunoreactive (PV-ir) interneurons was quantitatively assessed by means of a two-dimensional cell-counting technique, and the spatial distribution of PV-ir neurons was evaluated by using the Voronoi tessellation.
The morphological features included reduced cortical size, laminar disorganization, and heterotopic clusters of neurons. We also identified large, disoriented SMI311-positive pyramidal neurons, and dysmorphic neurons intensely immunostained for neurofilaments, similar to those observed in human dysplastic cortex. An altered distribution of PV-immunoreactive cortical interneurons was also present.
Although some of the cytoarchitectural abnormalities found in BCNU-exposed cortex are similar to those found in other CD models, we identified new alterations that recall the neuropathological description of type IIA (Taylor's type) CD. BCNU-treated rat could therefore be a useful additional model for investigating the pathogenic mechanisms involved in this CD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated the expression of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the developing rat thalamus by immunohistochemistry, using light, confocal and electron microscopy. We also examined the relationship between the expression of the homeoprotein Otx2, a transcription factor implicated in brain regionalization, and the radial and non-radial migration of early generated thalamic neurons, identified by the neuronal markers calretinin (CR) and GABA. The earliest thalamic neurons generated between embryonic days (E) 13 and 15 include those of the reticular nucleus, entirely composed by GABAergic neurons. GABA immunoreactivity appeared at E14 in immature neurons and processes laterally to the neuroepithelium of the diencephalic vesicle. The embryonic and perinatal periods were characterized by the presence of abundant GABA-immunoreactive fibers, mostly tangentially oriented, and of growth cones. At E15 and E16, GABA was expressed in radially and non-radially oriented neurons in the region of the reticular thalamic migration, between the dorsal and ventral thalamic primordia, and within the dorsal thalamus. At these embryonic stages, some CR- and GABA-immunoreactive migrating-like neurons, located in the migratory stream and in the dorsal thalamus, expressed the homeoprotein Otx2. In the perinatal period, the preponderance of GABAergic neurons was restricted to the reticular nucleus and several GABAergic fibers were still detectable throughout the thalamus. The immunolabeling of fibers progressively decreased and was no longer visible by postnatal day 10, when the adult configuration of GABA immunostaining was achieved. These results reveal the spatio-temporal features of GABA expression in the developing thalamus and suggest a novel role of Otx2 in thalamic cell migration.
Brain Research Bulletin 07/2007; 73(1-3):64-74. DOI:10.1016/j.brainresbull.2007.02.003 · 2.72 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protein kinases of the microtubule affinity-regulating kinase (MARK) family were originally discovered because of their ability to phosphorylate tau protein and related microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs), and their role in the establishment of cell polarity in different contexts. Recent papers have indicated that microtubule affinity-regulating kinase 4 (MARK4) is a gene that is finely regulated at transcriptional level and expressed in two spliced isoforms called MARK4L and MARK4S. We here describe the characterization of the mouse orthologue of the human MARK4 gene. Interestingly, MARK4S is predominantly expressed in the brain, whereas MARK4L shows lower transcript levels in this organ. Using MARK4 antibodies specific for each isoform, we found that both isoforms have an identical expression pattern in the mouse CNS, and are present in a number of neuronal populations. We also found that human microtubule affinity-regulating kinase 4S (hMARK4S), whose expression is not detectable in human neural progenitor cells (HNPCs) and NTera2 (NT2) cells, is up-regulated in both cell systems from the very early stages of neuronal differentiation. This indicates that neuronal commitment is marked by MARK4S up-regulation. In conclusion, this study provides the first direct evidence suggesting that MARK4 is a neuron-specific marker in the CNS, and the up-regulation of MARK4S during neuronal differentiation suggests that it plays a specialized role in neurons.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Identification of genetic copy number changes in glial tumors is of importance in the context of improved/refined diagnostic, prognostic procedures and therapeutic decision-making. In order to detect recurrent genomic copy number changes that might play a role in glioma pathogenesis and/or progression, we characterized 25 primary glioma cell lines including 15 non glioblastoma (non GBM) (I-III WHO grade) and 10 GBM (IV WHO grade), by array comparative genomic hybridization, using a DNA microarray comprising approx. 3500 BACs covering the entire genome with a 1 Mb resolution and additional 800 BACs covering chromosome 19 at tiling path resolution. Combined evaluation by single clone and whole chromosome analysis plus 'moving average (MA) approach' enabled us to confirm most of the genetic abnormalities previously identified to be associated with glioma progression, including +1q32, +7, -10, -22q, PTEN and p16 loss, and to disclose new small genomic regions, some correlating with grade malignancy. Grade I-III gliomas exclusively showed losses at 3p26 (53%), 4q13-21 (33%) and 7p15-p21 (26%), whereas only GBMs exhibited 4p16.1 losses (40%). Other recurrent imbalances, such as losses at 4p15, 5q22-q23, 6p23-25, 12p13 and gains at 11p11-q13, were shared by different glioma grades. Three intervals with peak of loss could be further refined for chromosome 10 by our MA approach. Data analysis of full-coverage chromosome 19 highlighted two main regions of copy number gain, never described before in gliomas, at 19p13.11 and 19q13.13-13.2. The well-known 19q13.3 loss of heterozygosity area in gliomas was not frequently affected in our cell lines. Genomic hotspot detection facilitated the identification of small intervals resulting in positional candidate genes such as PRDM2 (1p36.21), LRP1B (2q22.3), ADARB2 (10p15.3), BCCIP (10q26.2) and ING1 (13q34) for losses and ECT2 (3q26.3), MDK, DDB2, IG20 (11p11.2) for gains. These data increase our current knowledge about cryptic genetic changes in gliomas and may facilitate the further identification of novel genetic elements, which may provide us with molecular tools for the improved diagnostics and therapeutic decision-making in these tumors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It was recently reported that congenital heart disease is significantly more frequent in patients with NF1 microdeletion syndrome than in those with classical NF1. The outcome of congenital heart disease in this subset of patients is likely caused by the haploinsufficiency of gene/s in the deletion interval. Following in silico analysis of the deleted region, we found two genes known to be expressed in adult heart, the Joined to JAZF1 (SUZ12) and the Centaurin-alpha 2 (CENTA2) genes, and seven other genes with poorly defined patterns of expression and function. With the aim of defining their expression profiles in human fetal tissues (15th-21st weeks of gestation), expression analysis by RT-PCR and Northern blotting was performed. C17orf40, SUZ12 and CENTA2 were found to be mainly expressed in fetal heart, and following RT-PCR on mouse embryos and embryonic heart and brain at different stages of development, we found that the orthologous genes C17orf40, Suz12 and Centa2 are also expressed in early stages of development, before and during the formation of the four heart chambers. The presence of binding sites for Nkx2-5, a transcription factor expressed early in heart development, in all three mouse orthologous genes was predicted by bioinformatics, thus reinforcing the hypothesis that these genes might be involved in heart development and may be plausible candidates for congenital heart disease.
Annals of Human Genetics 10/2005; 69(Pt 5):508-16. DOI:10.1111/j.1529-8817.2005.00203.x · 2.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glioblastomas, the most frequent and malignant glial tumors, are known to be phenotypically heterogeneous. A low fraction of glioblastomas is associated with specific chromosomal losses at 1p and 19q, which are commonly found in oligodendrogliomas and are generally considered to be a primary event in the development of these tumors. Subsequent progression of oligodendroglial tumors appears to be triggered by additional molecular features underlying the transition to anaplastic oligodendroglioma and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) such as deletions of 9p and 10q, and alterations of CDKN2A (p16), which is located at 9p21. These findings strengthen the view that GBM on rare occasions may develop from oligodendroglial differentiated cells. In the present study, we evaluated the newly established MI-4 glioblastoma cell line, which displays 1p and 19q specific alterations targeting preferential regions of allelic loss in glial neoplasms, by array-CGH and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analyses that were combined to obtain a high resolution map of targeted chromosome rearrangements and copy number changes throughout the genome. Genome-wide and chromosome 19 full coverage array-CGH analysis of the MI-4 cell line revealed that in this particular cell line, 1p-specific loss, including the CDKN2 (p18) gene, is not accompanied by loss of the previously described 19q13.3 tumor suppressor candidate region. Interestingly, the array-CGH (CGHa) profile showed an increase in copy number along most of 19q including the AKT2 oncogene and the KLKs gene family, which have previously been shown to be amplified in pancreatic carcinomas and upregulated in several tumors, respectively. The concomitant 1p partial loss and chromosome 19 alterations, with the +7 and -10-specific GBM markers associated with homozygous deletion of 9p21.3 including CDKN2A (p16), are distinct features of the glioblastoma MI-4 cell line, illustrating its origin from an olidodendroglial tumor. Based on these results, we conclude that the MI-4 glioblastoma cell line might function as a model system for investigations into the behavior of a defined oligodendroglioma subtype.
Cancer Genetics and Cytogenetics 10/2005; 161(2):140-5. DOI:10.1016/j.cancergencyto.2005.02.010 · 1.93 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alterations of 19q13 are frequently observed in glial neoplasms, suggesting that this region harbors at least one gene involved in gliomagenesis. Following our previous studies on structural 19q chromosome rearrangements in gliomas, we have undertaken a detailed FISH analysis of the breakpoints and identified a 19q13.2 intrachromosomal amplification of the MAP/microtubule affinity-regulating kinase 4 (MARK4) gene in three primary glioblastoma cell lines. Recent data suggest that this gene is involved in the Wnt-signaling pathway. We observed that the expression of the alternatively spliced MARK4L isoform is upregulated in both fresh and cultured gliomas and overexpressed in all of the above three glioblastoma cell lines. Interestingly, we also found that MARK4L expression is restricted to undifferentiated neural progenitor cells or proliferating glial precursor cells, whereas its expression is downregulated during glial differentiation. Perturbation of expression using antisense oligonucleotides against MARK4 in glioblastoma cell lines, consistently induced a decreased proliferation of tumor cells. Taken together, these data show that MARK4, which is normally expressed in neural progenitors, is re-expressed in gliomas and may become a key target of intrachromosomal amplification upon 19q rearrangements.Keywords: glioma, MARK4, neural progenitor, upregulation and overexpression, intrachromosomal amplification, Wnt pathway