[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Red blood cells (RBC) must coordinate their rate of growth and proliferation with the availability of nutrients, such as iron, but the signaling mechanisms that link nutritional state to RBC growth are incompletely understood. We performed a screen for cell types that have high levels of signaling through mTORC1, a protein kinase that couples nutrient availability to cell growth. This screen revealed that reticulocytes show high levels of phosphorylated ribosomal protein S6, a downstream target of mTORC1. We found that mTORC1 activity in RBCs is regulated by dietary iron, and that genetic activation or inhibition of mTORC1 results in macrocytic or microcytic anemia, respectively. Finally, ATP competitive mTOR inhibitors reduced RBC proliferation and were lethal after treatment with phenylhydrazine, an inducer of hemolysis. These results identify the mTORC1 pathway as a critical regulator of RBC growth and proliferation, and establish that perturbations in this pathway result in anemia.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While the SCN controls the circadian clock, further evidence suggests the existence of a food-entrainable oscillator (FEO) that links behavior to changes in food availability such as during restricted feeding (RF). We found that the activity of AgRP/NPY neurons changed rhythmically during RF suggesting that these neurons are a component of the FEO. We next ablated AgRP/NPY neurons in neonates with diphtheria toxin resulting in the loss of ∼ 50% of AgRP/NPY neurons. Body weight and food intake were unchanged in adult animals after neonatal ablation, as were the responses to leptin treatment, leptin withdrawal, food deprivation and ghrelin treatment. However, ablated animals showed 30% mortality within 4 days of RF. Moreover, the recovery of body weight and food intake in surviving animals lagged behind controls with an absence of food anticipatory activity even after three days. These findings identify AgRP/NPY neurons as a key cellular component of the food-entrained oscillator.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The complexity and cellular heterogeneity of neural circuitry presents a major challenge to understanding the role of discrete neural populations in controlling behavior. While neuroanatomical methods enable high-resolution mapping of neural circuitry, these approaches do not allow systematic molecular profiling of neurons based on their connectivity. Here, we report the development of an approach for molecularly profiling projective neurons. We show that ribosomes can be tagged with a camelid nanobody raised against GFP and that this system can be engineered to selectively capture translating mRNAs from neurons retrogradely labeled with GFP. Using this system, we profiled neurons projecting to the nucleus accumbens. We then used an AAV to selectively profile midbrain dopamine neurons projecting to the nucleus accumbens. By comparing the captured mRNAs from each experiment, we identified a number of markers specific to VTA dopaminergic projection neurons. The current method provides a means for profiling neurons based on their projections.
[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: Rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep correlates with neuronal activity in the brainstem, basal forebrain and lateral hypothalamus. Lateral hypothalamus melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH)-expressing neurons are active during sleep, but their effects on REM sleep remain unclear. Using optogenetic tools in newly generated Tg(Pmch-cre) mice, we found that acute activation of MCH neurons (ChETA, SSFO) at the onset of REM sleep extended the duration of REM, but not non-REM, sleep episodes. In contrast, their acute silencing (eNpHR3.0, archaerhodopsin) reduced the frequency and amplitude of hippocampal theta rhythm without affecting REM sleep duration. In vitro activation of MCH neuron terminals induced GABAA-mediated inhibitory postsynaptic currents in wake-promoting histaminergic neurons of the tuberomammillary nucleus (TMN), and in vivo activation of MCH neuron terminals in TMN or medial septum also prolonged REM sleep episodes. Collectively, these results suggest that activation of MCH neurons maintains REM sleep, possibly through inhibition of arousal circuits in the mammalian brain.
[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: WNIN/Obese (WNIN/Ob) rat a new mutant model of metabolic syndrome was identified in 1996 from an inbred Wistar rat strain, WNIN. So far several papers are published on this model highlighting its physical, biochemical and metabolic traits. WNIN/Ob is leptin resistant with unaltered leptin or its receptor coding sequences - the two well-known candidate genes for obesity. Genotyping analysis of F2 progeny (raised from WNIN/Ob × Fisher - 344) in the present study localized the mutation to a recombinant region of 14.15cM on chromosome 5. This was further corroborated by QTL analysis for body weight, which narrowed this region to 4.43 cM with flanking markers D5Rat256 & D5Wox37. Interval mapping of body weight QTL shows that the LOD score peak maps upstream of leptin receptor and shows an additive effect suggesting this as a novel mutation and signifying the model as a valuable resource for studies on obesity and metabolic syndrome.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(10):e77679. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[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