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    ABSTRACT: Wingless/Int (Wnt) signalling pathways are signal transduction mechanisms that have been widely studied in the field of embryogenesis. Recent work has established a critical role for these pathways in brain development, especially of midbrain dopaminergic neurones. However, the fundamental importance of Wnt signalling for the normal function of mature neurones in the adult central nervous system has also lately been demonstrated by an increasing number of studies. Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease worldwide and is currently incurable. This debilitating disease is characterized by the progressive loss of a subset of midbrain dopaminergic neurones in the substantia nigra leading to typical extrapyramidal motor symptoms. The aetiology of PD is poorly understood but work performed over the last two decades has identified a growing number of genetic defects that underlie this condition. Here we review a growing body of data connecting genes implicated in PD-most notably the PARK genes-with Wnt signalling. These observations provide clues to the normal function of these proteins in healthy neurones and suggest that deregulated Wnt signalling might be a frequent pathomechanism leading to PD. These observations have implications for the pathogenesis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases in general.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Journal of Molecular Cell Biology
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    ABSTRACT: The importance of leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) to mature neurons is well-established, since mutations in PARK8, the gene encoding LRRK2, are the most common known cause of Parkinson's disease. Nonetheless, despite the LRRK2 knockout mouse having no overt neurodevelopmental defect, numerous lines of in vitro data point toward a central role for this protein in neurogenesis. Roles for LRRK2 have been described in many key processes, including neurite outgrowth and the regulation of microtubule dynamics. Moreover, LRRK2 has been implicated in cell cycle control, suggesting additional roles in neurogenesis that precede terminal differentiation. However, we contend that the suggested function of LRRK2 as a scaffolding protein at the heart of numerous Wnt signaling cascades provides the most tantalizing link to neurogenesis in the developing brain. Numerous lines of evidence show a critical requirement for multiple Wnt pathways in the development of certain brain regions, not least the dopaminergic neurons of the ventral mid-brain. In conclusion, these observations indicate a function of LRRK2 as a subtle yet critical mediator of the action of Wnt ligands on developing neurons. We suggest that LRRK2 loss- or gain-of-function are likely modifiers of developmental phenotypes seen in animal models of Wnt signaling deregulation, a hypothesis that can be tested by cross-breeding relevant genetically modified experimental strains.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: Dendrites emerging from the cell bodies of neurons receive the majority of synaptic inputs. They possess a plethora of ion channels that are essential for the processing of these synaptic signals. To fully understand how dendritic ion channels influence neuronal information processing, various patch-clamp techniques that allow electrophysiological recordings to be made directly from dendrites have been developed. In this chapter, I describe one such method that is suitable for making electrophysiological recordings from the apical dendrites of hippocampal and cortical pyramidal neurons.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
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