Qian Chen

Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China

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Publications (8)40.9 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5 (CDKL5), also known as serine/threonine kinase 9 (STK9), have been identified in patients with Rett syndrome (RTT) and X-linked infantile spasm. However, the function of CDKL5 in the brain remains unknown. Here, we report that CDKL5 is a critical regulator of neuronal morphogenesis. We identified a neuron-specific splicing variant of CDKL5 whose expression was markedly induced during postnatal development of the rat brain. Downregulating CDKL5 by RNA interference (RNAi) in cultured cortical neurons inhibited neurite growth and dendritic arborization, whereas overexpressing CDKL5 had opposite effects. Furthermore, knocking down CDKL5 in the rat brain by in utero electroporation resulted in delayed neuronal migration, and severely impaired dendritic arborization. In contrast to its proposed function in the nucleus, we found that CDKL5 regulated dendrite development through a cytoplasmic mechanism. In fibroblasts and in neurons, CDKL5 colocalized and formed a protein complex with Rac1, a critical regulator of actin remodeling and neuronal morphogenesis. Overexpression of Rac1 prevented the inhibition of dendrite growth caused by CDKL5 knockdown, and the growth-promoting effect of ectopically expressed CDKL5 on dendrites was abolished by coexpressing a dominant-negative form of Rac1. Moreover, CDKL5 was required for brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-induced activation of Rac1. Together, these results demonstrate a critical role of CDKL5 in neuronal morphogenesis and identify a Rho GTPase signaling pathway which may contribute to CDKL5-related disorders.
    Journal of Neuroscience 09/2010; 30(38):12777-86. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Deposition of ubiquitinated protein aggregates is a hallmark of neurodegeneration in both acute neural injuries, such as stroke, and chronic conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. In the present study, we examined the role of Zn2+ in ischemia-induced impairment of the ubiquitin-proteasome system in the CA1 region of rat hippocampus after transient global ischemia. We found that scavenging endogenous Zn2+ reduced ischemia-induced ubiquitin conjugation and free ubiquitin depletion. Furthermore, exposure to zinc chloride increased ubiquitination and inhibited proteasomal enzyme activity in cultured hippocampal neurons in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. Further studies of the underlying mechanisms showed that Zn(2+)-induced ubiquitination required p38 activation. These findings indicate that alterations in Zn2+ homeostasis impair the protein degradation pathway.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 09/2009; 111(5):1094-103. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Activation of NMDA subtypes of glutamate receptors is implicated in cell damage induced by ischemia as well as for the establishment of ischemic tolerance after ischemic preconditioning in animal models. We investigated the contributions of NR2A- and NR2B-containing NMDA receptors to ischemic cell death and ischemic tolerance in a rat model of transient global ischemia. Transient global ischemia was produced in rats by 4-vessel occlusion. Neuronal injury was analyzed by Fluoro-Jade B and Nissl staining. Phosphorylation of CREB was detected by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. In situ hybridization and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction were used to evaluate the mRNA level of cpg15 and bdnf. NR2A subtype-specific antagonist NVP-AAM077 enhanced neuronal death after transient global ischemia and abolished the induction of ischemic tolerance. In contrast, NR2B subtype-specific antagonist ifenprodil attenuated ischemic cell death and enhanced preconditioning-induced neuroprotection. Furthermore, selectively blocking NR2A-, but not NR2B-, containing NMDA receptors inhibited ischemia-induced phosphorylation of CREB and the subsequent upregulation of CREB target genes such as cpg15 and bdnf. We found that NR2A- and NR2B-containing NMDA receptor subtypes play differential roles in ischemic neuronal death and ischemic tolerance, suggesting attractive new strategies for the development of drugs for patients with stroke.
    Stroke 09/2008; 39(11):3042-8. · 6.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It is known that N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in the basolateral nucleus of amygdala (BLA) is essential for fear memory formation. NMDA NR2B and NR2A subtype receptors exhibit difference in electrophysiological and signaling properties. However, it is unclear whether these two subtype receptors have different roles in fear memory formation. Here, we provide evidence, using pharmacological blockade and genetic interference, that NR2B is involved in acquisition of auditory fear memory in a conditioning-strength dependent way. Pre-conditioning intra-BLA infusion of the NR2B selective antagonist ifenprodil or Ro25-6981 impaired 48-h auditory fear memory (AFM) induced by five but not one CS-US pairing protocol, while similar treatment with the NR2A antagonist NVP-AAM077 disrupted memory for both protocols. Consistently, genetic over-expression of NR2B C-terminal in the BLA, which interferes with the C-terminal mediated intracellular signaling, produced a severe deficit in 48-h AFM for five but not one CS-US pairing protocol, whereas over-expression of NR2A C-terminal impaired memory for both protocols. Furthermore, pre-conditioning infusion of ifenprodil down-regulated the elevated phosphorylation level of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) induced by five CS-US pairing protocol. Thus, the involvement of BLA NR2B in AFM acquisition depends on conditioning strength.
    Neuropharmacology 09/2008; 55(2):238-46. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ability of synapses to undergo changes in structure and function in response to alterations of neuronal activity is an essential property of neural circuits. One way that this is achieved is through global changes in the molecular composition of the synapse; however, it is not clear how these changes are coupled to the dynamics of neuronal activity. Here we found that, in cultured rat cortical neurons, bidirectional changes of neuronal activity led to corresponding alterations in the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and phosphorylation of its receptor tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB), as well as in the level of synaptic proteins. Exogenous BDNF reversed changes in synaptic proteins induced by chronic activity blockade, while inhibiting Trk kinase activity or depleting endogenous BDNF abolished the concentration changes induced by chronic activity elevation. Both tetrodotoxin and bicuculline had significant, but opposite, effects on synaptic protein ubiquitination in a time-dependent manner. Furthermore, exogenous BDNF was sufficient to increase ubiquitination of synaptic proteins, whereas scavenging endogenous BDNF or inhibiting Trk kinase activity prevented the ubiquitination of synaptic proteins induced by chronic elevation of neuronal activity. Inhibiting the proteasome or blocking protein polyubiquitination mimicked the effect of tetrodotoxin on the levels of synaptic proteins and canceled the effects of BDNF. Our study indicates that BDNF-TrkB signaling acts upstream of the ubiquitin proteasome system, linking neuronal activity to protein turnover at the synapse.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2008; 283(30):21242-50. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Endocytosis of Trk (tropomyosin-related kinase) receptors is critical for neurotrophin signal transduction and biological functions. However, the mechanism governing endocytosis of TrkB (tropomyosin-related kinase B) and the specific contributions of TrkB endocytosis to downstream signaling are unknown. In this study, we report that blocking clathrin, dynamin, or AP2 in cultured neurons of the central nervous system inhibited brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-induced activation of Akt but not ERK. Treating neurons with the clathrin inhibitor monodansylcadaverine or a peptide that blocks dynamin function specifically abrogated Akt pathway activation in response to BDNF but did not affect the response of other downstream effectors or the up-regulation of immediate early genes neuropeptide Y and activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein. Similar effects were found in neurons expressing small interfering RNA to silence AP2 or a dominant negative form of dynamin that inhibits clathrin-mediated endocytosis. In PC12 cells, ERK but not Akt activation required TrkA endocytosis following stimulation with nerve growth factor, whereas the opposite was true when TrkA-expressing neurons were stimulated with nerve growth factor in the central nervous system. Thus, the specific effects of internalized Trk receptors probably depend on the presence of cell type-specific modulators of neurotrophin signaling and not on differences inherent to Trk receptors themselves. Endocytosis-dependent activation of Akt in neurons was found to be critical for BDNF-supported survival and dendrite outgrowth. Together, these results demonstrate the functional requirement of clathrin- and dynamin-dependent endocytosis in generating the full intracellular response of neurons to BDNF in the central nervous system.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2008; 283(19):13280-8. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fleeting activation of NMDA receptors (NMDARs) induces long-term modification of synaptic connections and refinement of neuronal circuits, which may underlie learning and memory and contribute to pathogenesis of a diversity of neurological diseases, including epilepsy. Here, we found that NR2A and NR2B subunit-containing NMDARs were coupled to distinct intracellular signaling, resulting in differential BDNF expression and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) activation. Selective activation of NR2A-containing NMDARs increased BDNF gene expression. Activation of NR2B-containing NMDARs led to ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Furthermore, selectively blocking NR2A-containing NMDARs impaired epileptogenesis and the development of mossy fiber sprouting in the kindling and pilocarpine rat models of limbic epilepsy, whereas inhibiting NR2B-containing NMDARs had no effects in epileptogenesis and mossy fiber sprouting. Interestingly, blocking either NR2A- or NR2B-containing NMDARs decreased status epilepticus-induced neuronal cell death. The specific requirement of NR2A and its downstream signaling for epileptogenesis implicates attractive new targets for the development of drugs that prevent epilepsy in patients with brain injury.
    Journal of Neuroscience 02/2007; 27(3):542-52. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Late-phase long-term potentiation (L-LTP) and long-term memory depend on the transcription of mRNA of CRE-driven genes and synthesis of proteins. However, how synaptic signals propagate to the nucleus is unclear. Here we report that the CREB coactivator TORC1 (transducer of regulated CREB activity 1) undergoes neuronal activity-induced translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, a process required for CRE-dependent gene expression and L-LTP. Overexpressing a dominant-negative form of TORC1 or down-regulating TORC1 expression prevented activity-dependent transcription of CREB target genes in cultured hippocampal neurons, while overexpressing a wild-type form of TORC1 facilitated basal and activity-induced transcription of CREB target genes. Furthermore, overexpressing the dominant-negative form of TORC1 suppressed the maintenance of L-LTP without affecting early-phase LTP, while overexpressing the wild-type form of TORC1 facilitated the induction of L-LTP in hippocampal slices. Our results indicate that TORC1 is essential for CRE-driven gene expression and maintenance of long-term synaptic potentiation.
    PLoS ONE 02/2006; 1:e16. · 3.53 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

235 Citations
40.90 Total Impact Points


  • 2006–2010
    • Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences
      Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China
  • 2009
    • Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology
      • Institute of Neuroscience
      Beijing, Beijing Shi, China
  • 2008
    • State Key Laboratory of Medical Genetics of China
      Ch’ang-sha-shih, Hunan, China