Colum Connolly

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

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Publications (3)18.94 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Inflammation is a growing area of research in neurodegeneration. In Huntington's disease (HD), a fatal inherited neurodegenerative disease caused by a CAG-repeat expansion in the gene encoding huntingtin, patients have increased plasma levels of inflammatory cytokines and circulating monocytes that are hyper-responsive to immune stimuli. Several mouse models of HD also show elevated plasma levels of inflammatory cytokines. To further determine the degree to which these models recapitulate observations in HD patients, we evaluated various myeloid cell populations from different HD mouse models to determine whether they are similarly hyper-responsive, as well as measuring other aspects of myeloid cell function. Myeloid cells from each of the three mouse models studied, R6/2, HdhQ150 knock-in and YAC128, showed increased cytokine production when stimulated. However, bone marrow CD11b(+) cells did not show the same hyper-responsive phenotype as spleen and blood cells. Furthermore, macrophages isolated from R6/2 mice show increased levels of phagocytosis, similar to findings in HD patients. Taken together, these results show significant promise for these mouse models to be used to study targeting innate immune pathways identified in human cells, thereby helping to understand the role the peripheral immune system plays in HD progression. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Neurobiology of Disease 10/2014; · 5.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Forkhead box protein p1 (Foxp1), a transcription factor showing highly enriched expression in the striatum, has been implicated in central nervous system (CNS) development, but its role in the mature brain is unknown. In order to ascertain functional roles for Foxp1 in the CNS, we have identified gene targets for Foxp1 both in vitro and in vivo using genome-wide expression microarrays and chromatin-immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) assays. We found that mouse Foxp1 overexpression in striatal cells elicited expression changes of genes related to immune signaling, transcriptional regulation and a manually curated Huntington's disease (HD)-signaling pathway. Similar results were found when the gene expression data set was integrated with Foxp1-binding data determined from ChIP-seq analysis. In vivo lentiviral-mediated overexpression of human FOXP1 in the context of mutant huntingtin (Htt) protein resulted in a robust downregulation of glial cell-associated, immune genes, including those encoding a variety of cytokines and chemokines. Furthermore, Foxp1-induced expression changes were significantly negatively correlated with those changes elicited by mutant Htt protein in several different HD mouse models, and most significantly in post-mortem caudate from human HD subjects. We finally show that Foxp1 interacts with mutant Htt protein in mouse brain and is present in nuclear Htt aggregates in the striatum of R6/1 transgenic mice. These findings implicate Foxp1 as a key repressor of immune signaling in the CNS and suggest that the loss of Foxp1-mediated gene regulation in HD contributes to the immune dysfunction in this disease. We further suggest that Foxp1-regulated pathways might be important mediators of neuronal-glial cell communication.
    Human Molecular Genetics 04/2012; 21(14):3097-111. · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Central nervous system (CNS) inflammatory processes including microglial activation have been implicated in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington Disease (HD). We report age-dependent changes in striatal microglial morphology and vasculature in the YAC128 mouse model of HD. Decreases in microglial ramification along with a decrease in vessel diameter and increased vessel density and length suggest the presence of microgliosis and proangiogenic activity in YAC128 mice. Our hypothesis for this study was that the changes in microglial morphology and perturbations in vasculature may be involved in the pathogenesis of HD and that peripheral challenge with the bacterial endotoxin, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), will exacerbate these microglial and vascular changes as well as the HD phenotype in YAC128 mice at 12 months. Chronic peripheral LPS (1mg/kg) potentiated microglial activation indicated by an increase in microglial cell body size and retraction of processes. This potentiation in microglial activation with chronic peripheral LPS challenge was paralleled with vascular remodeling including dilatation, increased vessel wall thickness, increased BBB permeability and fibrinogen deposition in YAC128 striatum. Although peripheral LPS caused an increase in microglial activation and degenerative changes in cerebrovasculature, the phenotypic hallmarks of HD in YAC128 mice such as motor coordination deficits and decreased striatal volume were not exacerbated by chronic peripheral LPS exposure. This study identifies age-dependent increases in microglial activation and angiogenesis in YAC128 at 12 months. Peripheral inflammation induced by chronic LPS causes similar changes but does not influence the HD phenotype in YAC128 mice.
    Neurobiology of Disease 09/2011; 45(1):438-49. · 5.62 Impact Factor