Jens Waak

University of Tuebingen, Tübingen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

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Publications (9)36.43 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Impaired insulin action in the brain represents an early step in the progression toward type 2 diabetes, and elevated levels of saturated free fatty acids are known to impair insulin action in prediabetic subjects. One potential mediator that links fatty acids to inflammation and insulin resistance is the Toll-like receptor (TLR) family. Therefore, C3H/HeJ/TLR2-KO (TLR2/4-deficient) mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD), and insulin action in the brain as well as cortical and locomotor activity was analyzed by using telemetric implants. TLR2/4-deficient mice were protected from HFD-induced glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in the brain and displayed an improvement in cortical and locomotor activity that was not observed in C3H/HeJ mice. Sleep recordings revealed a 42% increase in rapid eye movement sleep in the deficient mice during daytime, and these mice spent 41% more time awake during the night period. Treatment of control mice with a neutralizing IL-6 antibody improved insulin action in the brain as well as cortical activity and diminished osteopontin protein to levels of the TLR2/4-deficient mice. Together, our data suggest that the lack of functional TLR2/4 protects mice from a fat-mediated impairment in insulin action, brain activity, locomotion, and sleep architecture by an IL-6/osteopontin-dependent mechanism.
    The FASEB Journal 01/2012; 26(5):1799-809. DOI:10.1096/fj.11-191023 · 5.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: DJ-1 is a neuroprotective gene mutated in recessive Parkinson’s disease (PD). In addition to direct protective functions in neurons, DJ-1 regulates neuroinflammatory signaling in primary mouse brain astrocytes. To assess the influence of DJ-1 on innate immunity signaling in vivo, we have generated djr-1 knockout Caenorhabditis elegans. When grown on pathogenic gram-negative bacteria, djr-1 −/− worms showed stronger phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (PMK-1) and hyper-induction of PMK-1 target genes. Thus, PD-associated DJ-1 contributes to regulation of innate immunity. Keywords Caenorhabditis elegans -DJ-1-Innate immunity-Parkinson’s disease-p38MAPK pathway
    Journal of Neural Transmission 05/2010; 117(5):599-604. DOI:10.1007/s00702-010-0397-4 · 2.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mitochondrial dysfunction and degradation takes a central role in current paradigms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD). Loss of DJ-1 function is a rare cause of familial PD. Although a critical role of DJ-1 in oxidative stress response and mitochondrial function has been recognized, the effects on mitochondrial dynamics and downstream consequences remain to be determined. Using DJ-1 loss of function cellular models from knockout (KO) mice and human carriers of the E64D mutation in the DJ-1 gene we define a novel role of DJ-1 in the integrity of both cellular organelles, mitochondria and lysosomes. We show that loss of DJ-1 caused impaired mitochondrial respiration, increased intramitochondrial reactive oxygen species, reduced mitochondrial membrane potential and characteristic alterations of mitochondrial shape as shown by quantitative morphology. Importantly, ultrastructural imaging and subsequent detailed lysosomal activity analyses revealed reduced basal autophagic degradation and the accumulation of defective mitochondria in DJ-1 KO cells, that was linked with decreased levels of phospho-activated ERK2. We show that loss of DJ-1 leads to impaired autophagy and accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria that under physiological conditions would be compensated via lysosomal clearance. Our study provides evidence for a critical role of DJ-1 in mitochondrial homeostasis by connecting basal autophagy and mitochondrial integrity in Parkinson's disease.
    PLoS ONE 02/2010; 5(2):e9367. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0009367 · 3.23 Impact Factor

  • PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(2). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0009367.g008 · 3.23 Impact Factor
  • Philipp J Kahle · Jens Waak · Thomas Gasser ·
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in the PARK7/DJ-1 gene are rare causes of autosomal-recessive hereditary Parkinson's disease. Loss-of-function mutations lead to the characteristic selective neurodegeneration of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons, which accounts for parkinsonian symptoms. Originally identified as an oncogene, DJ-1 is a ubiquitous redox-responsive cytoprotective protein with diverse functions. In addition to cell-autonomous neuroprotective roles, DJ-1 may act in a transcellular manner, being up-regulated in reactive astrocytes in chronic neurodegenerative diseases as well as in stroke. Thus, DJ-1, particularly in its oxidized form, has been recognized as a biomarker for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The crystal structure of DJ-1 has been solved, allowing detailed investigations of the redox-reactive center of DJ-1. Structure-function studies revealed that DJ-1 may become activated in the presence of reactive oxygen species, under conditions of oxidative stress, but also as part of physiological receptor-mediated signal transduction. DJ-1 regulates redox signaling kinase pathways and acts as a transcriptional regulator of antioxidative gene batteries. Therefore, DJ-1 is an important redox-reactive signaling intermediate controlling oxidative stress after ischemia, upon neuroinflammation, and during age-related neurodegenerative processes. Augmenting DJ-1 activity might provide novel approaches to treating chronic neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson's disease and acute damage such as stroke.
    Free Radical Biology and Medicine 09/2009; 47(10):1354-61. DOI:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2009.08.003 · 5.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Parkinson disease (PD)-associated genomic deletions and the destabilizing L166P point mutation lead to loss of the cytoprotective DJ-1 protein. The effects of other PD-associated point mutations are less clear. Here we demonstrate that the M26I mutation reduces DJ-1 expression, particularly in a null background (knockout mouse embryonic fibroblasts). Thus, homozygous M26I mutation causes loss of DJ-1 protein. To determine the cellular consequences, we measured suppression of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) and cytotoxicity for [M26I]DJ-1, and systematically all other DJ-1 methionine and cysteine mutants. C106A mutation of the central redox site specifically abolished binding to ASK1 and the cytoprotective activity of DJ-1. DJ-1 was apparently recruited into the ASK1 signalosome via Cys-106-linked mixed disulfides. The designed higher order oxidation mimicking [C106DD]DJ-1 non-covalently bound to ASK1 even in the absence of hydrogen peroxide and conferred partial cytoprotection. Interestingly, mutations of peripheral redox sites (C46A and C53A) and M26I also led to constitutive ASK1 binding. Cytoprotective [wt]DJ-1 bound to the ASK1 N terminus (which is known to bind another negative regulator, thioredoxin 1), whereas [M26I]DJ-1 bound to aberrant C-terminal site(s). Consequently, the peripheral cysteine mutants retained cytoprotective activity, whereas the PD-associated mutant [M26I]DJ-1 failed to suppress ASK1 activity and nuclear export of the death domain-associated protein Daxx and did not promote cytoprotection. Thus, cytoprotective binding of DJ-1 to ASK1 depends on the central redox-sensitive Cys-106 and may be modulated by peripheral cysteine residues. We suggest that impairments in oxidative conformation changes of DJ-1 might contribute to PD neurodegeneration.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 04/2009; 284(21):14245-57. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M806902200 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Parkinson's disease (PD)-associated gene DJ-1 mediates direct neuroprotection. The up-regulation of DJ-1 in reactive astrocytes also suggests a role in glia. Here we show that DJ-1 regulates proinflammatory responses in mouse astrocyte-rich primary cultures. When treated with a Toll-like receptor 4 agonist, the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS), Dj-1-knockout astrocytes generated >10 times more nitric oxide (NO) than littermate controls. Lentiviral reintroduction of DJ-1 restored the NO response to LPS. The enhanced NO production in Dj-1(-/-) astrocytes was mediated by a signaling pathway involving reactive oxygen species leading to specific hyperinduction of type II NO synthase [inducible NO synthase (iNOS)]. These effects coincided with significantly increased phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), and p38(MAPK) inhibition suppressed NO production and iNOS mRNA and protein induction. Dj-1(-/-) astrocytes also induced the proinflammatory mediators cyclooxygenase-2 and interleukin-6 significantly more strongly, but not nerve growth factor. Finally, primary neuron cultures grown on Dj-1(-/-) astrocytes became apoptotic in response to LPS in an iNOS-dependent manner, directly demonstrating the neurotoxic potential of astrocytic DJ-1 deficiency. These findings identify DJ-1 as a regulator of proinflammatory responses and suggest that loss of DJ-1 contributes to PD pathogenesis by deregulation of astrocytic neuroinflammatory damage.
    The FASEB Journal 03/2009; 23(8):2478-89. DOI:10.1096/fj.08-125153 · 5.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in the PARK7 gene encoding DJ-1 cause autosomal recessive Parkinson disease. The most deleterious point mutation is the L166P substitution, which resides in a structure motif comprising two alpha-helices (G and H) separated by a kink. Here we subjected the C-terminal helix-kink-helix motif to systematic site-directed mutagenesis, introducing helix-incompatible proline residues as well as conservative substitutions into the helical interface. Furthermore, we generated deletion mutants lacking the H-helix, the kink, and the entire C terminus. When transfected into neural and nonneural cell lines, steady-state levels of G-helix breaking and kink deletion mutants were dramatically lower than wild-type DJ-1. The effects of H-helix breakers were comparably smaller, and the non-helix breaking mutants only slightly destabilized DJ-1. The decreased steady-state levels were due to accelerated protein degradation involving in part the proteasome. G-helix breaking DJ-1 mutations abolished dimer formation. These structural perturbations had functional consequences on the cytoprotective activities of DJ-1. The destabilizing mutations conferred reduced cytoprotection against H(2)O(2) in transiently retransfected DJ-1 knock-out mouse embryonic fibroblasts. The loss of survival promoting activity of the DJ-1 mutants with destabilizing C-terminal mutations correlated with impaired anti-apoptotic signaling. We found that wild-type, but not mutant DJ-1 facilitated the Akt pathway and simultaneously blocked the apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1, with which DJ-1 interacted in a redox-dependent manner. Thus, the G-helix and kink are critical determinants of the C-terminal helix-kink-helix motif, which is absolutely required for stability and the regulation of survival-promoting redox signaling of the Parkinson disease-associated protein DJ-1.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2007; 282(18):13680-91. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M609821200 · 4.57 Impact Factor
  • Jens Waak · Ralf Dringen ·
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    ABSTRACT: Monochlorobimane (MCB) is often used to visualize glutathione (GSH) levels in cultured cells, since it is quickly converted to a fluorescent GSH conjugate (GS-MCB). To test for consequences of MCB application on the GSH metabolism of astrocytes, we have studied rat astrocyte-rich primary cultures as model system. MCB caused a concentration dependent rapid decrease in the cellular GSH content. Simultaneously, a transient accumulation of GS-MCB in the cells was observed with a maximal content 5 min after MCB application. The cellular accumulation was followed by a rapid release of GS-MCB into the medium with a maximal initial export rate of 27.9 +/- 6.5 nmol h(-1) mg protein(-1). Transporters of the family of multidrug resistance proteins (Mrps) are likely to be involved in this export, since the Mrp inhibitor MK571 lowered the export rate by 60%. These data demonstrate that, due to its rapid export from astrocytes, GS-MCB is only under well-defined conditions a reliable indicator of the cellular GSH concentration and that MK571 can be used to maintain maximal GS-MCB levels in astrocytes.
    Neurochemical Research 01/2007; 31(12):1409-16. DOI:10.1007/s11064-006-9192-x · 2.59 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

559 Citations
36.43 Total Impact Points


  • 2010
    • University of Tuebingen
      • Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research
      Tübingen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
  • 2007-2010
    • Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research
      Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
    • Universität Bremen
      • Center for Biomolecular Interactions CBIB
      Bremen, Bremen, Germany