Ainsley Coquinco

University of British Columbia - Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Publications (5)31.72 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Synaptic competition is widely believed to be central to the formation and function of neuronal networks, yet the underlying mechanisms are poorly described. To investigate synaptic competition in vitro, we have developed a novel two input pathway competition model using a 3-compartment microfluidic device. Axons from cultured rat cortical neurons from two different lateral compartments (inputs) innervate a common neuronal population in a separate central compartment. Inhibiting one input’s activity, using the GABAAR agonist muscimol, resulted in increased synapse numbers and axon elongation of the opposing untreated (uninhibited) inputs in the central compartment. Time lapse imaging revealed that uninhibited inputs outgrew and outconnected their inhibited counterparts. This form of competition occurs during a sensitive period ending prior to 21 DIV and is NMDAR and CamKII dependent. Surprisingly, this form of plasticity was dependent on the age of the center compartment neurons but not of the competing inputs.
    Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 05/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.mcn.2014.03.001 · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Secretory trafficking through the Golgi complex is critical for neuronal development, function, and stress response. Altered secretion is associated with the pathogenesis of various neurological diseases. We found that c-Jun amino-terminal kinase 3 (JNK3) inhibited secretory trafficking by promoting the depletion of phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate (PI4P) in the Golgi complex of COS7 cells and primary rat neurons. Exposure of cultured primary rat neurons to excitotoxic concentrations of NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate), an agonist of a class of ionotropic glutamate receptors, or overexpression of zD17 (a palmitoyl transferase) resulted in JNK3 palmitoylation and association with the Golgi complex. Analysis of mutant constructs of JNK3 indicated that Golgi association was independent of its kinase activity but depended on its palmitoylation. The association of JNK3 with the Golgi in cultured neurons decreased the secretory trafficking of the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor subunit GluR1 (glutamate receptor subunit 1), a component of ionotropic glutamate receptors found at glutamatergic synapses. Palmitoylated JNK3 bound to the phosphatase Sac1, increasing its abundance at the Golgi and thereby decreasing the abundance of PI4P, a lipid necessary for post-Golgi trafficking. Disrupting the JNK3-Sac1 interaction with two synthetic peptides prevented the loss of surface GluR1 and preserved synaptic integrity in cultured neurons exposed to NMDA. Together, our results suggest that JNK3 participates in an adaptive response to neuronal hyperexcitation by impeding secretory trafficking at the Golgi complex.
    Science Signaling 07/2013; 6(283):ra57. DOI:10.1126/scisignal.2003727 · 7.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We recently reported evidence for disturbed synaptic versus extrasynaptic NMDAR transmission in the early pathogenesis of Huntington's disease (HD), a late-onset neurodegenerative disorder caused by CAG repeat expansion in the gene encoding huntingtin. Studies in glutamatergic cells indicate that synaptic NMDAR transmission increases phosphorylated cyclic-AMP response element binding protein (pCREB) levels and drives neuroprotective gene transcription, whereas extrasynaptic NMDAR activation reduces pCREB and promotes cell death. By generating striatal and cortical neuronal co-cultures to investigate the glutamatergic innervation of striatal neurons, we demonstrate that dichotomous synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDAR signaling also occurs in GABAergic striatal medium-sized spiny neurons (MSNs), which are acutely vulnerable in HD. Further, we show that wild-type (WT) and HD transgenic YAC128 MSNs co-cultured with cortical cells have similar levels of glutamatergic synapses, synaptic NMDAR currents and synaptic GluN2B and GluN2A subunit-containing NMDARs. However, NMDAR whole-cell, and especially extrasynaptic, current is elevated in YAC128 MSNs. Moreover, GluN2B subunit-containing NMDAR surface expression is markedly increased, irrespective of whether or not the co-cultured cortical cells express mutant huntingtin. The data suggest that MSN cell-autonomous increases in extrasynaptic NMDARs are driven by the HD mutation. Consistent with these results, we find that extrasynaptic NMDAR-induced pCREB reductions and apoptosis are also augmented in YAC128 MSNs. Moreover, both NMDAR-mediated apoptosis and CREB-off signaling are blocked by co-application of either memantine or the GluN2B subunit-selective antagonist ifenprodil in YAC128 MSNs. GluN2A-subunit-selective concentrations of the antagonist NVP-AAM077 did not reduce cell death in either genotype. Cortico-striatal co-cultures provide an in vitro model system in which to better investigate striatal neuronal dysfunction in disease than mono-cultured striatal cells. Results from the use of this system, which partially recapitulates the cortico-striatal circuit and is amenable to acute genetic and pharmacological manipulations, suggest that pathophysiological NMDAR signaling is an intrinsic frailty in HD MSNs that can be successfully targeted by pharmacological interventions.
    Neurobiology of Disease 06/2012; 48(1):40-51. DOI:10.1016/j.nbd.2012.05.013 · 5.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The NMDAR plays a unique and vital role in subcellular signaling. Calcium influx initiates signaling cascades important for both synaptic plasticity and survival; however, overactivation of the receptor leads to toxicity and cell death. This dichotomy is partially explained by the subcellular location of the receptor. NMDARs located at the synapse stimulate cell survival pathways, while extrasynaptic receptors signal for cell death. Thus far, this interplay between synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDARs has been studied exclusively in cortical (CTX) and hippocampal neurons. It was unknown whether other cell types, such as GABAergic medium-sized spiny projection neurons of the striatum (MSNs), which bear the brunt of neurodegeneration in Huntington's disease, follow the same pattern. Here we report synaptic versus extrasynaptic NMDAR signaling in striatal MSNs and resultant activation of cAMP response element binding protein (CREB), in rat primary corticostriatal cocultures. Similarly to CTX, we found in striatal MSNs that synaptic NMDARs activate CREB, whereas extrasynaptic NMDARs dominantly oppose CREB activation. However, MSNs are much less susceptible to NMDA-mediated toxicity than CTX cells and show differences in subcellular GluN2B distribution. Blocking NMDARs with memantine (30 μm) or GluN2B-containing receptors with ifenprodil (3 μm) prevents CREB shutoff effectively in CTX and MSNs, and also rescues both neuronal types from NMDA-mediated toxicity. This work may provide cell and NMDAR subtype-specific targets for treatment of diseases with putative NMDAR involvement, including neurodegenerative disorders and ischemia.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 03/2012; 32(12):3992-4003. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4129-11.2012 · 6.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) proteins are encoded by three genes (Jnk1-3), giving rise to 10 isoforms in the mammalian brain. The differential roles of JNK isoforms in neuronal cell death and development have been noticed in several pathological and physiological contexts. However, the mechanisms underlying the regulation of different JNK isoforms to fulfill their specific roles are poorly understood. Here, we report an isoform-specific regulation of JNK3 by palmitoylation, a posttranslational modification, and the involvement of JNK3 palmitoylation in axonal development and morphogenesis. Two cysteine residues at the COOH-terminus of JNK3 are required for dynamic palmitoylation, which regulates JNK3's distribution on the actin cytoskeleton. Expression of palmitoylation-deficient JNK3 increases axonal branching and the motility of axonal filopodia in cultured hippocampal neurons. The Wnt family member Wnt7a, a known modulator of axonal branching and remodelling, regulates the palmitoylation and distribution of JNK3. Palmitoylation-deficient JNK3 mimics the effect of Wnt7a application on axonal branching, whereas constitutively palmitoylated JNK3 results in reduced axonal branches and blocked Wnt7a induction. Our results demonstrate that protein palmitoylation is a novel mechanism for isoform-specific regulation of JNK3 and suggests a potential role of JNK3 palmitoylation in modulating axonal branching.
    Cell death and differentiation 09/2011; 19(4):553-61. DOI:10.1038/cdd.2011.124 · 8.39 Impact Factor