Skills and Expertise
Research Items (235)
- Dec 2018
- The Surfaceome
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) belong to a major class of cell surface receptors that transduce extracellular signals to elicit diverse intracellular responses. Upon binding to specific ligand, the RTKs become dimerized and autophosphorylated at tyrosine residues. This creates binding sites to recruit specific signaling intermediates and hence trigger distinct signaling events. The cellular response to a given RTK may be modified through the regulation of membrane insertion and receptor internalization. Here we use Trk receptor and its ligand, the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), as an example to illustrate the approaches (coimmunoprecipitation and biotinylation) to study the surface expression and signal transduction mediated by this class of RTK in the nervous system.
The receptor tyrosine kinase, erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular A4 (EphA4), was recently identified as a molecular target for Alzheimer's disease (AD). We found that blockade of the interaction of the receptor and its ligands, ephrins, alleviates the disease phenotype in an AD transgenic mouse model, suggesting that targeting EphA4 is a potential approach for developing AD interventions. In this study, we identified five FDA-approved drugs-ergoloid, cyproheptadine, nilotinib, abiraterone, and retapamulin-as potential inhibitors of EphA4 by using an integrated approach combining virtual screening with biochemical and cellular assays. We initially screened a database of FDA-approved drugs using molecular docking against the ligand-binding domain of EphA4. Then, we selected 22 candidate drugs and examined their inhibitory activity towards EphA4. Among them, five drugs inhibited EphA4 clustering induced by ephrin-A in cultured primary neurons. Specifically, nilotinib, a kinase inhibitor, inhibited the binding of EphA4 and ephrin-A at micromolar scale in a dosage-dependent manner. Furthermore, nilotinib inhibited the activation of EphA4 and EphA4-dependent growth cone collapse in cultured hippocampal neurons, demonstrating that the drug exhibits EphA4 inhibitory activity in cellular context. As demonstrated in our combined computational and experimental approaches, repurposing of FDA-approved drugs to inhibit EphA4 may provide an alternative fast-track approach for identifying and developing new treatments for AD.
- Nov 2018
Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease in the elderly population, is characterized by progressive cognitive decline and pathological hallmarks of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. However, its pathophysiological mechanisms are poorly understood, and diagnostic tools and interventions are limited. Here, we review recent research on the amyloid hypothesis and beta-amyloid–induced dysfunction of neuronal synapses through distinct cell surface receptors. We also review how tau protein leads to synaptotoxicity through pathological modification, localization, and propagation. Finally, we discuss experimental therapeutics for AD and propose potential applications of disease-modifying strategies targeting synaptic failure for improved treatment of AD.
- Sep 2018
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, and its incidence is expected to increase owing to the aging population worldwide. Current therapies merely provide symptomatic relief. Therefore, interventions for AD that delay the disease onset or progression are urgently required. Recent genomics and functional studies suggest that immune/inflammatory pathways are involved in the pathogenesis of AD. Although many anti-inflammatory drug candidates have undergone clinical trials, most have failed. This might be because of our limited understanding of the pathological mechanisms of neuroinflammation in AD. However, recent advances in the understanding of immune/inflammatory pathways in AD and their regulatory mechanisms could open up new avenues for drug development targeting neuroinflammation. In this Review, we discuss the mechanisms and status of different anti-inflammatory drug candidates for AD that have undergone or are undergoing clinical trials and explore new opportunities for targeting neuroinflammation in AD drug development.
Abnormal deposition of brain amyloid is a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The toxic extracellular amyloid plaques originating from the aberrant aggregation of beta-amyloid (Aβ) protein are considered to be the major cause of clinical deficits such as memory loss and cognitive impairment. Two-photon excited fluorescence (TPEF) microscopy provides high spatial resolution, minimal invasiveness and long-term monitoring capability. TPEF imaging of amyloid plaques in AD transgenic mice models has greatly facilitated the studies of AD pathological mechanism. However, the imaging of deep cortical layers is still hampered by the conventional amyloid probes with short excitation/emission wavelength. In this work, we report that a near-infrared (NIR) probe, named CRANAD-3, is far superior for deep in vivo TPEF imaging of brain amyloid in comparison with the commonly used short-wavelength probe. Our findings show that the major interference for TPEF signal of the NIR probe is from the autofluorescence of lipofuscin, the “aging-pigment” in the brain. To eliminate the interference, we characterized the lipofuscin fluorescence in the aged brains of AD mice and found that it has unique broad emission and short lifetime. The lipofuscin signal can be clearly separated from the fluorescence of CRANAD-3 and fluorescent protein via a ratio-based unmixing method. Our results demonstrate the great advantages of NIR probes for in vivo deep-tissue imaging of amyloid plaques in AD
Seasonal, pandemic, and avian influenza virus infections may be associated with central nervous system pathology, albeit with varying frequency and different mechanisms. Here, we demonstrate that differentiated human astrocytic (T98G) and neuronal (SH-SY5Y) cells can be infected by avian H7N9 and pandemic H1N1 viruses. However, infectious progeny viruses can only be detected in H7N9 virus infected human neuronal cells. Neither of these viral strains can generate infectious progeny virus in human astrocytes despite replication of viral genome was observed. Furthermore, H7N9 virus triggered high pro-inflammatory cytokine expression, while pandemic H1N1 virus induced only low cytokine expression in either brain cell type. The experimental finding here is the first data to demonstrate that avian H7N9 virus can infect, transcribe, and replicate its viral genome; induce cytokine upregulation; and cause cytopathic effects in human brain cells, which may potentially lead to profound central nervous system injury. Observation for neurological problems due to H7N9 virus infection deserves further attention when managing these patients.
- May 2018
The ability to abandon old strategies and adopt new ones is essential for survival in a constantly changing environment. While previous studies suggest the importance of the prefrontal cortex and some subcortical areas in the generation of strategy-switching flexibility, the fine neural circuitry and receptor mechanisms involved are not fully understood. In this study, we showed that optogenetic excitation and inhibition of the prelimbic cortex-nucleus accumbens (NAc) pathway in the mouse respectively enhances and suppresses strategy-switching ability in a cross-modal spatial-egocentric task. This ability is dependent on an intact dopaminergic tone in the NAc, as local dopamine denervation impaired the performance of the animal in the switching of tasks. In addition, based on a brain-slice preparation obtained from Drd2-EGFP BAC transgenic mice, we demonstrated direct innervation of D2 receptor-expressing medium spiny neurons (D2-MSNs) in the NAc by prelimbic cortical neurons, which is under the regulation by presynaptic dopamine receptors. While presynaptic D1-type receptor activation enhances the glutamatergic transmission from the prelimbic cortex to D2-MSNs, D2-type receptor activation suppresses this synaptic connection. Furthermore, manipulation of this pathway by optogenetic activation or administration of a D1-type agonist or a D2-type antagonist could restore impaired task-switching flexibility in mice with local NAc dopamine depletion; this restoration is consistent with the effects of knocking down the expression of specific dopamine receptors in the pathway. Our results point to a critical role of a specific prelimbic cortex-NAc subpathway in mediating strategy abandoning, allowing the switching from one strategy to another in problem solving.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a leading cause of mortality among the elderly. We performed a whole-genome sequencing study of AD in the Chinese population. In addition to the variants identified in or around the APOE locus (sentinel variant rs73052335, P = 1.44 × 10-14), two common variants, GCH1 (rs72713460, P = 4.36 × 10-5) and KCNJ15 (rs928771, P = 3.60 × 10-6), were identified and further verified for their possible risk effects for AD in three small non-Asian AD cohorts. Genotype-phenotype analysis showed that KCNJ15 variant rs928771 affects the onset age of AD, with earlier disease onset in minor allele carriers. In addition, altered expression level of the KCNJ15 transcript can be observed in the blood of AD subjects. Moreover, the risk variants of GCH1 and KCNJ15 are associated with changes in their transcript levels in specific tissues, as well as changes of plasma biomarkers levels in AD subjects. Importantly, network analysis of hippocampus and blood transcriptome datasets suggests that the risk variants in the APOE, GCH1, and KCNJ15 loci might exert their functions through their regulatory effects on immune-related pathways. Taking these data together, we identified common variants of GCH1 and KCNJ15 in the Chinese population that contribute to AD risk. These variants may exert their functional effects through the immune system.
- Dec 2017
Regulation of AMPA receptors mediates homeostatic scaling. In this issue of Neuron, Wang et al. (2017) identify a new role of secreted semaphorin 3F and elucidate how it triggers synaptic downscaling of AMPA receptors through regulation of the binding of Sema3F holoreceptor complex to AMPA receptors.
- Aug 2017
Morphological changes of dendritic spines are strongly associated with synaptic development and synaptic plasticity, which underlies learning and memory. These changes are driven by alterations of F-actin dynamics under the control of Rho GTPases or by synaptic trafficking and insertion of glutamate receptors. Understanding the molecular events that occur during the formation and stabilization of dendritic spines, and the signaling pathways regulating these processes, provides insights into the mechanisms of learning and memory. In this review, we discuss the recent advances on these postsynaptic signaling pathways, in particular, we discuss the specific signaling events that couple the cell-surface receptors to intracellular targets. In addition, we discuss the deregulation of these signaling pathways and their subsequent impact on synaptic dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease.
The experience-dependent modulation of brain circuitry depends on dynamic changes in synaptic connections that are guided by neuronal activity. In particular, postsynaptic maturation requires changes in dendritic spine morphology, the targeting of postsynaptic proteins, and the insertion of synaptic neurotransmitter receptors. Thus, it is critical to understand how neuronal activity controls postsynaptic maturation. Here we report that the scaffold protein liprinα1 and its phosphorylation by cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) are critical for the maturation of excitatory synapses through regulation of the synaptic localization of the major postsynaptic organizer postsynaptic density (PSD)-95. Whereas Cdk5 phosphorylates liprinα1 at Thr701, this phosphorylation decreases in neurons in response to neuronal activity. Blockade of liprinα1 phosphorylation enhances the structural and functional maturation of excitatory synapses. Nanoscale superresolution imaging reveals that inhibition of liprinα1 phosphoryla
Anemoside A3 (AA3) is a natural triterpenoid glycoside isolated from the root of Pulsatilla chinensis (Bunge) Regel. We previously showed that AA3 exhibits cognitive-enhancing and neuroprotective properties. In the present study, we demonstrated that AA3 modulates inflammatory responses by regulating prostaglandin E receptor 4 signaling. Because prostaglandin E receptor 4 is involved in the pathophysiology of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of human multiple sclerosis (MS), we assessed the beneficial effect of AA3 in EAE mice. AA3 treatment significantly reduced clinical severity and inflammatory infiltrates in the spinal cord of EAE mice. In vitro studies revealed that AA3 inhibited the T cell response toward the encephalitogenic epitope of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG). AA3 significantly downregulated the expressions of certain Th1 and Th17 cytokines in activated T cells re-stimulated by MOG. Moreover, AA3 inhibited the activation of STAT4 and STAT3, which are the transcription factors pivotal for Th1 and Th17 lineage differentiation, respectively, in activated T cells. Pharmacological analysis further suggested that AA3 reduced Th17 cell differentiation and expansion. In conclusion, AA3 exerts an immunomodulatory effect in EAE, demonstrating its potential as a therapeutic agent for MS in humans.
- Jul 2017
Two new diarylheptanoids, alpinins A (1) and B (2), together with eighteen known diarylheptanoids (3–20), were isolated from the rhizomes of Alpinia officinarum. Their structures were elucidated by comprehensive spectroscopic analysis including HRMS, IR, and 1D- and 2D-NMR. Structurally, alpinin A is a new member of the small family of oxa-bridged diarylheptanoids and contains the characteristic 2,6-cis-configured tetrahydropyran motif (C1-C5 oxa-bridge). The absolute configuration of alpinin A was confirmed by asymmetric total synthesis of the enantiomer (ent-1), corroborating the assignment of the molecular structure. The absolute configuration of alpinin B was determined on the basis of the analysis of the CD exciton chirality spectrum. We evaluated the inhibitory activity of all isolated diarylheptanoids against alpha-synuclein aggregation at 10 µM. Alpinins A and B significantly inhibited alpha-synuclein aggregation by 66% and 67%, respectively.
A pair of unusual melibiose esters (1α/1β) and a pair of unusual raffinose esters (2α/2β), were isolated from Scrophularia ningpoensis. Structures of them were established by detailed spectroscopic analyses to be 6-O-(E)-cinnamoyl-α-d-galactopyranosyl-(1→6)-α(β)-d-glucopyranose (1α/1β) and 6-O-(E)/(Z)-cinnamoyl-α-d-galactopyranosyl-(1→6)-α-d-glucopyranosyl-(1→2)-β-d-fructofuranose (2α/2β), respectively. All these compounds were evaluated for antifouling activity against the settlement of Balanus amphitrite larvae, along with the cytotoxic effect against the proliferation of HeLa cell lines.
During mouse embryo development, both muscle progenitor cells (MPCs) and brown adipocytes (BAs) are known to derive from the same Pax7⁺/Myf5⁺ progenitor cells. However, the underlying mechanisms for the cell fate control remain unclear. In Pax7-null MPCs from young mice, several BA-specific genes, including Prdm16 and Ucp1 and many other adipocyte-related genes, were upregulated with a concomitant reduction of Myod and Myf5, two muscle lineage-determining genes. This suggests a cell fate switch from MPC to BA. Consistently, freshly isolated Pax7-null but not wild-type MPCs formed lipid-droplet-containing UCP1⁺ BA in culture. Mechanistically, MyoD and Myf5, both known transcription targets of Pax7 in MPC, potently repress Prdm16, a BA-specific lineage-determining gene, via the E2F4/p107/p130 transcription repressor complex. Importantly, inducible Pax7 ablation in developing mouse embryos promoted brown fat development. Thus, the MyoD/Myf5-E2F4/p107/p130 axis functions in both the Pax7⁺/Myf5⁺ embryonic progenitor cells and postnatal myoblasts to repress the alternative BA fate.
- Mar 2017
A new iridoid glycoside, namely 8-O-(threo-2, 3-dihydroxyl-3-phenyl-propionoyl)-harpagide (1), along with a new cinnamoyl glycoside named as cis-sibirioside A (2), were isolated from Scrophularia ningpoensis Hemsl. Their chemical structures were completely established by spectroscopic methods and comparison with related literatures. Compound 1 exhibited moderate antifouling effect against the settlement of Balanus amphitrite larvae with IC50 being 13.5 μg/mL and LC50 > 25 μg/mL.
Hippocampal synaptic plasticity is modulated by neuropeptides, the disruption of which might contribute to cognitive deficits observed in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Although pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived neuropeptides and melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) are implicated in hippocampus-dependent synaptic plasticity, how the POMC/MC4R system functions in the hippocampus and its role in synaptic dysfunction in AD are largely unknown. Here, we mapped a functional POMC circuit in the mouse hippocampus, wherein POMC neurons in the cornu ammonis 3 (CA3) activate MC4R in the CA1. Suppression of hippocampal MC4R activity in the APP/PS1 transgenic mouse model of AD exacerbates long-term potentiation impairment, which is alleviated by the replenishment of hippocampal POMC/MC4R activity or activation of hippocampal MC4R-coupled Gs signaling. Importantly, MC4R activation rescues amyloid-β-induced synaptic dysfunction via a Gs/cyclic AMP (cAMP)/PKA/cAMP-response element binding protein (CREB)-dependent mechanism. Hence, disruption of this hippocampal POMC/MC4R circuit might contribute to synaptic dysfunction observed in AD, revealing a potential therapeutic target for the disease.
The International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) coordinates the generation of a catalog of high-resolution reference epigenomes of major primary human cell types. The studies now presented (see the Cell Press IHEC web portal at http://www.cell.com/consortium/IHEC) highlight the coordinated achievements of IHEC teams to gather and interpret comprehensive epigenomic datasets to gain insights in the epigenetic control of cell states relevant for human health and disease. PaperClip
Dendritic spine stabilization depends on afferent synaptic input and requires changes in actin cytoskeleton dynamics and protein synthesis. However, the underlying molecular mechanism remains unclear. Here we report the identification of 'calmodulin kinase-like vesicle-associated' (CaMKv), a pseudokinase of the CaMK family with unknown function, as a synaptic protein crucial for dendritic spine maintenance. CaMKv mRNA localizes at dendrites, and its protein synthesis is regulated by neuronal activity. CaMKv function is inhibited upon phosphorylation by cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) at Thr345. Furthermore, CaMKv knockdown in mouse hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons impairs synaptic transmission and plasticity in vivo, resulting in hyperactivity and spatial memory impairment. These findings collectively indicate that the precise regulation of CaMKv through activity-dependent synthesis and post-translational phosphorylation is critical for dendritic spine maintenance, revealing an unusual signalling pathway in the regulation of synaptic transmission and brain function that involves a pseudokinase.
Recent studies have shown that STAT3 negatively regulates the proliferation of muscle satellite cells (MuSCs) and injury-induced muscle regeneration. These studies have been largely based on STAT3 inhibitors, which may produce off-target effects and are not cell type-specific in vivo. Here, we examine the role of STAT3 in MuSCs using two different mouse models: a MuSC-specific Stat3 knockout line and a Stat3 (MuSC-specific)/dystrophin (Dmd) double knockout (dKO) line. Stat3−/− MuSCs from both mutant lines were defective in proliferation. Moreover, in both mutant strains, the MuSC pool shrank, and regeneration was compromised after injury, with defects more pronounced in dKO mice along with severe muscle inflammation and fibrosis. We analyzed the transcriptomes of MuSCs from dKO and Dmd−/− control mice and identified multiple STAT3 target genes, including Pax7. Collectively, our work reveals a critical role of STAT3 in adult MuSCs that regulates their self-renewal during injury-induced muscle regeneration.
Neurite outgrowth is crucial during neuronal development and regeneration, and strategies that aim at promoting neuritogenesis are beneficial for reconstructing synaptic connections after neuronal degeneration and injury. Using a bivalent analogue strategy as a successful approach, the current study identifies a series of novel dimeric securinine analogs as potent neurite outgrowth enhancers. Compounds 13, 14, 17-19, 21-23, with different lengths of carbon chain of N,N-dialkyl substituting diacid amide linker between two securinine molecules at C-15 position, exhibited notable positive effects on both neuronal differentiation and neurite extension of neuronal cells. Compound 14, one of the most active compounds, was used as a representative compound for mechanistic studies. Its action on neurite outgrowth was through phosphorylation/activation of multiple signaling molecules including Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and Akt. These findings collectively identify a new group of beneficial compounds for neuritogenesis, and may provide insights on drug discovery of neural repair and regeneration.
- Jun 2016
Adelostemma gracillimum is an herb used as nourishing and roborant drugs and in the treatment of convulsions in children. To date, a few molecular constituents have been isolated from the root of this herb and chemically characterized, but their biological activities have never been reported. Here, we demonstrate that the crude extract of A. gracillimum (AGE) can protect primary cortical neurons against N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA)-induced cytotoxicity. Further fractionations of AGE led to the isolation of four novel lignans (1–4), two known lignans (5, 11), and five known acetophenones (6–10); their structures were elucidated by comparison with related literature, extensive analyses of NMR spectroscopy and high-resolution mass spectrometry. Of the eleven isolates, lignans 2, 3 and 5 exhibit significant neuroprotection against NMDA-induced cell death. This is the first report of isolating lignans with neuroprotective activity from A. gracillimum.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a devastating condition with no known effective treatment. AD is characterized by memory loss as well as impaired locomotor ability, reasoning, and judgment. Emerging evidence suggests that the innate immune response plays a major role in the pathogenesis of AD. In AD, the accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) in the brain perturbs physiological functions of the brain, including synaptic and neuronal dysfunction, microglial activation, and neuronal loss. Serum levels of soluble ST2 (sST2), a decoy receptor for interleukin (IL)-33, increase in patients with mild cognitive impairment, suggesting that impaired IL-33/ST2 signaling may contribute to the pathogenesis of AD. Therefore, we investigated the potential therapeutic role of IL-33 in AD, using transgenic mouse models. Here we report that IL-33 administration reverses synaptic plasticity impairment and memory deficits in APP/PS1 mice. IL-33 administration reduces soluble Aβ levels and amyloid plaque deposition by promoting the recruitment and Aβ phagocytic activity of microglia; this is mediated by ST2/p38 signaling activation. Furthermore, IL-33 injection modulates the innate immune response by polarizing microglia/macrophages toward an antiinflammatory phenotype and reducing the expression of proinflammatory genes, including IL-1β, IL-6, and NLRP3, in the cortices of APP/PS1 mice. Collectively, our results demonstrate a potential therapeutic role for IL-33 in AD.
In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes.
- Nov 2015
Unlabelled: The proper growth and arborization of dendrites in response to sensory experience are essential for neural connectivity and information processing in the brain. Although neuronal activity is important for sculpting dendrite morphology, the underlying molecular mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we report that cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5)-mediated transcriptional regulation is a key mechanism that controls activity-dependent dendrite development in cultured rat neurons. During membrane depolarization, Cdk5 accumulates in the nucleus to regulate the expression of a subset of genes, including that of the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor, for subsequent dendritic growth. Furthermore, Cdk5 function is mediated through the phosphorylation of methyl-CpG-binding protein 2, a key transcriptional repressor that is mutated in the mental disorder Rett syndrome. These findings collectively suggest that the nuclear import of Cdk5 is crucial for activity-dependent dendrite development by regulating neuronal gene transcription during neural development. Significance statement: Neural activity directs dendrite development through the regulation of gene transcription. However, how molecular signals link extracellular stimuli to the transcriptional program in the nucleus remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that neuronal activity stimulates the translocation of the kinase Cdk5 from the cytoplasmic compartment into the nucleus; furthermore, the nuclear localization of Cdk5 is required for dendrite development in cultured neurons. Genome-wide transcriptome analysis shows that Cdk5 deficiency specifically disrupts activity-dependent gene transcription of bdnf. The action of Cdk5 is mediated through the modulation of the transcriptional repressor methyl-CpG-binding protein 2. Therefore, this study elucidates the role of nuclear Cdk5 in the regulation of activity-dependent gene transcription and dendritic growth.
Precise regulation of synaptic strength requires coordinated activity and functions of synaptic proteins, which is controlled by a variety of post-translational modification. Here we report that S-nitrosylation of p35, the activator of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5), by nitric oxide (NO) is important for the regulation of excitatory synaptic strength. While blockade of NO signalling results in structural and functional synaptic deficits as indicated by reduced mature dendritic spine density and surface expression of glutamate receptor subunits, phosphorylation of numerous synaptic substrates of Cdk5 and its activity are aberrantly upregulated following reduced NO production. The results show that the NO-induced reduction in Cdk5 activity is mediated by S-nitrosylation of p35, resulting in its ubiquitination and degradation by the E3 ligase PJA2. Silencing p35 protein in hippocampal neurons partially rescues the NO blockade-induced synaptic deficits. These findings collectively demonstrate that p35 S-nitrosylation by NO signalling is critical for regulating hippocampal synaptic strength.
- Aug 2015
Three novel zwitterionic alkaloids—ningpoensine A (1) and a pair of epimers, ningpoensines B/C (2a/2b)—with unprecedented molecular skeletons were isolated from the root of Scrophularia ningpoensis. Theirstructures were established by extensive spectroscopic analyses, and the absolute configuration of ningpoensine A was determined by quantum chemical calculations. A biosynthetic pathway leading to ningpoensines A–C from harpagide and natural amino acids is proposed. Ningpoensines B/C tended to promote wound closure in human embryonic keratinocytes.
- Jul 2015
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative illness associated with dementia and is most prevalent among the elderly population. Current medications can only treat symptoms. Alkaloids are structurally diverse and have been an important source of therapeutics for various brain disorders. Two US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved acetylcholinesterase inhibitors for AD, galantamine and rivastigmine, are in fact alkaloids. In addition, clinical trials of four other extensively studied alkaloids-huperzine A, caffeine, nicotine, and indomethacin-have been conducted but do not convincingly demonstrate their clinical efficacy for AD. Interestingly, rhynchophylline, a known neuroprotective alkaloid, was recently discovered by in silico screening as an inhibitor of EphA4, a novel target for AD. Here, we review the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying AD, current treatment strategies, and therapeutic potential of several selected plant alkaloids in AD, highlighting their various drug targets and the key supportive preclinical and clinical studies. Future research should include more rigorous clinical studies of the most promising alkaloids, the further development of recently discovered candidate alkaloids, and the continual search for new alkaloids for relevant drug targets. It remains promising that an alkaloid drug candidate could significantly affect the progression of AD in addition to providing symptomatic relief. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
During development, scaffold proteins serve as important platforms for orchestrating signaling complexes to transduce extracellular stimuli into intracellular responses that regulate dendritic spine morphology and function. Axin ("axis inhibitor") is a key scaffold protein in canonical Wnt signaling that interacts with specific synaptic proteins. However, the cellular functions of these protein-protein interactions in dendritic spine morphology and synaptic regulation are unclear. Here, we report that Axin protein is enriched in synaptic fractions, colocalizes with the postsynaptic marker PSD-95 in cultured hippocampal neurons, and interacts with a signaling protein Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) in synaptosomal fractions. Axin depletion by shRNA in cultured neurons or intact hippocampal CA1 regions significantly reduced dendritic spine density. Intriguingly, the defective dendritic spine morphogenesis in Axin-knockdown neurons could be restored by overexpression of the small Rho-GTPase Cdc42, whose activity is regulated by CaMKII. Moreover, pharmacological stabilization of Axin resulted in increased dendritic spine number and spontaneous neurotransmission, while Axin stabilization in hippocampal neurons reduced the elimination of dendritic spines. Taken together, our findings suggest that Axin promotes dendritic spine stabilization through Cdc42-dependent cytoskeletal reorganization.
- Jun 2015
Fully functionalized pyranuloses derived from Achmatowicz rearrangement (AR) are versatile building blocks in organic synthesis. However, access to trans-2,6-dihydropyrans from pyranuloses remains underexplored. Herein, we report a new two-step trans arylation of AR products to access 2,6-trans-dihydropyranones. This new trans-arylation method built on numerous plausible, but unsuccessful, direct arylation reactions, including Ferrier-type and Tsuji-Trost-type reactions, was finally enabled by an unprecedented, highly regioselective γ-deoxygenation of AR products by using Zn/HOAc and a diastereoselective Heck-Matsuda coupling. The synthetic utility of the reaction was demonstrated in the first asymmetric total synthesis of (-)-musellarins A-C and 12 analogues in 11-12 steps. The brevity and efficiency of our synthetic route permitted preparation of enantiomerically pure musellarins and analogues (>20 mg) for preliminary cytotoxicity evaluation, which led us to identify two analogues with three-to-six times greater potency than the musellarins as promising new leads. © 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Proper functioning of the cerebral cortex depends on the appropriate production and positioning of neurons, establishment of axon-dendrite polarity, and formation of proper neuronal connectivity. Deficits in any of these processes greatly impair neural functions and are associated with various human neurodevelopmental disorders including microcephaly, cortical heterotopias, and autism. The application of in vivo manipulation techniques such as in utero electroporation has resulted in significant advances in our understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie neural development in vivo. Axin is a scaffold protein that regulates neuronal differentiation and morphogenesis in vitro. Recent studies provide novel insights into the emerging roles of Axin in gene expression and cytoskeletal regulation during neurogenesis, neuronal polarization, and axon formation. This review summarizes current knowledge on Axin as a key molecular controller of cerebral cortical development.
Since the discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF) more than a half century ago (Levi-Montalcini and Cohen, 1960), the prototypic neurotrophin family has included brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), and neurotrophin-4 (NT-4). Neurotrophins bind to the Trk family of receptors, as well as the p75 receptor, to activate multiple intracellular signaling cascades (reviewed by Reichardt, 2006). BDNF receptor tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB) signaling has been extensively studied for its roles in the central nervous system (CNS) ranging from cell survival, axonal and dendritic growth and synapse formation. The pathway mediates long-lasting activity-modulated synaptic changes on excitatory and inhibitory neurons and plays critical roles in circuit development and maintenance. In addition to BDNF, many studies have identified other “growth” or signaling factors in the CNS that play important roles in the development, maintenance, and control of synaptic and circuit function. However, details of the intracellular signaling systems downstream of these events are frequently unexplored. In this Research Topic, we have collected original studies and review articles that present cellular and molecular mechanisms concerning activity-dependent synapse formation and their implications for behavior and brain disorders.
- May 2015
The present invention provides therapeutically active compounds and compositions as receptor antagonists and methods of use thereof. In one aspect, the compounds are useful in modulating pain, inflammation and acute phase reactions by inhibiting the PGE2 receptors including PGE2 EP1, EP2 and EP4 receptors.
The maturation and maintenance of dendritic spines depends on neuronal activity and protein synthesis. One potential mechanism involves mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), which promotes protein synthesis through phosphorylation of 4E-BP and p70 ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1 (S6K). Upon extracellular stimulation, mTOR phosphorylates S6K at Thr-389. S6K also undergoes phosphorylation at other sites, including four serine residues in the auto-inhibitory domain. Despite extensive biochemical studies, the importance of phosphorylation in the auto-inhibitory domain on S6K function remains unresolved, and its role has not been explored in the cellular context. Here we demonstrated that S6K in neuron was phosphorylated at Ser-411 within the auto-inhibitory domain by cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5). Ser-411 phosphorylation was regulated by neuronal activity and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Knockdown of S6K in hippocampal neurons by RNAi led to loss of dendritic spines, an effect that mimics neuronal activity blockade by tetrodotoxin (TTX). Notably, co-expression of wild-type S6K, but not the phospho-deficient S411A mutant, could rescue the spine defects. These findings reveal the importance of Cdk5-mediated phosphorylation of S6K at Ser-411 in spine morphogenesis driven by BDNF and neuronal activity. Copyright © 2015, The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
- Mar 2015
The development and function of neuronal synapses are orchestrated by various extrinsic factors through intracellular signaling cascades that often involve protein kinases. One important kinase at the synapse is the proline-directed serine/threonine kinase Cdk5. Although early pharmacological and genetic studies have pointed out the critical role of Cdk5 in regulating synapse function, the precise mechanisms have only been unraveled in recent years through the identification and characterization of multiple substrates. Emerging studies also indicate that Cdk5 dysregulation is linked to mitochondrial dysfunction. This review focuses on recent progress in our understanding of the multiple roles of Cdk5 in mitochondrial function, synapse development and plasticity through phosphorylation of specific substrates at different cellular compartments.
Compounds that have the ability to both strengthen synaptic function and facilitate neuroprotection are valuable cognitive enhancers that may improve health and quality of life as well as retard age-related cognitive deterioration. Medicinal plants are an abundant source of potential cognitive enhancers. Here, we report that anemoside A3 (AA3) isolated from Pulsatilla chinensis modulates synaptic connectivity in circuits central to memory enhancement. AA3 specifically modulates the function of AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) by increasing serine phosphorylation within the GluA1 subunit, which is a modification required for the trafficking of GluA1-containing AMPARs to synapses. Furthermore, AA3 administration activates several synaptic signaling molecules and increases protein expressions of the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and monoamine neurotransmitters in the mouse hippocampus. In addition to acting through AMPARs, AA3 also acts as a noncompetitive NMDA receptor (NMDAR) modulator with a neuroprotective capacity against ischemic brain injury and over-excitation in rats. These findings collectively suggest that AA3 possesses a unique ability to modulate the functions of both AMPARs and NMDARs. Concordantly, behavioral studies indicate that AA3 not only facilitates hippocampal long-term potentiation, but also enhances spatial reference memory formation in mice. These multifaceted roles suggest that AA3 is an attractive candidate for further development as a cognitive enhancer capable of alleviating memory dysfunctions associated with aging and neurodegenerative diseases.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 04 February 2015. doi:10.1038/npp.2015.37.
A study reports for the first time on the importance of post-translational modification by neddylation in postnatal brain development. In particular, it is critical to synapse maturation and stability, and thus to cognition.
Nuclear hormone receptor coregulator-interacting factor 1 (NIF-1) is a zinc finger nuclear protein that was initially identified to enhance nuclear hormone receptor transcription via its interaction with nuclear hormone receptor coregulator. NIF-1 may regulate gene transcription either by modulating general transcriptional machinery or remodeling chromatin structure through interactions with specific protein partners. We previously reported that the cytoplasmic/nuclear localization of NIF-1 is regulated by the neuronal Cdk5 activator p35, suggesting potential neuronal functions for NIF-1. The present study reveals that NIF-1 plays critical roles in regulating neuronal morphogenesis at early stages. NIF-1 was prominently expressed in the nuclei of developing rat cortical neurons. Knockdown of NIF-1 expression attenuated both neurite outgrowth in cultured cortical neurons and retinoic acid-treated Neuro-2a neuroblastoma cells. Furthermore, activity-induced Ca(2+) influx, which is critical for neuronal morphogenesis, stimulated the nuclear localization of NIF-1 in cortical neurons. Suppression of NIF-1 expression reduced the up-regulation of neuronal activity-dependent gene transcription. These findings collectively suggest that NIF-1 directs neuronal morphogenesis during early developmental stages through modulating activity-dependent gene transcription. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
The functional integrity of the neocortex depends upon proper numbers of excitatory and inhibitory neurons; however, the consequences of dysregulated neuronal production during the development of the neocortex are unclear. As excess cortical neurons are linked to the neurodevelopmental disorder autism, we investigated whether the overproduction of neurons leads to neocortical malformation and malfunction in mice. We experimentally increased the number of pyramidal neurons in the upper neocortical layers by using the small molecule XAV939 to expand the intermediate progenitor population. The resultant overpopulation of neurons perturbs development of dendrites and spines of excitatory neurons and alters the laminar distribution of interneurons. Furthermore, these phenotypic changes are accompanied by dysregulated excitatory and inhibitory synaptic connection and balance. Importantly, these mice exhibit behavioral abnormalities resembling those of human autism. Thus, our findings collectively suggest a causal relationship between neuronal overproduction and autism-like features, providing developmental insights into the etiology of autism. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) is a proline-directed serine/threonine kinase, which plays critical roles in a wide spectrum of neuronal functions including neuronal survival, neurite outgrowth, and synapse development and plasticity. Cdk5 activity is controlled by its specific activators: p35 or p39. While knockout studies reveal that Cdk5/p35 is critical for neuronal migration during early brain development, functions of Cdk5/p35 have been unraveled through the identification of the interacting proteins of p35, most of which are Cdk5/p35 substrates. However, it remains unclear whether p35 can regulate neuronal functions independent of Cdk5 activity. Here, we report that a nuclear protein, nuclear hormone receptor coregulator (NRC)-interacting factor 1 (NIF-1), is a new interacting partner of p35. Interestingly, p35 regulates the functions of NIF-1 independent of Cdk5 activity. NIF-1 was initially discovered as a transcriptional regulator that enhances the transcriptional activity of nuclear hormone receptors. Our results show that p35 interacts with NIF-1 and regulates its nucleocytoplasmic trafficking via the nuclear export pathway. Furthermore, we identified a nuclear export signal on p35; mutation of this site or blockade of the CRM1/exportin-dependent nuclear export pathway resulted in the nuclear accumulation of p35. Intriguingly, blocking the nuclear export of p35 attenuated the nuclear accumulation of NIF-1. These findings reveal a new p35-dependent mechanism in transcriptional regulation that involves the nucleocytoplasmic shuttling of transcription regulators.
- Oct 2014
Despite advances in promoting axonal regeneration after adult central nervous system injury, elicitation of a large number of lesion-passing axons reform active synaptic connections with natural target neurons remains limited. By deleting both Pten and Socs3 in retinal ganglion cells, we report that optic nerve axons after prechiasm lesion robustly reinnervate the hypothalamus, form new synapses with neurons in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), and re-integrate with the existing circuitry. Photic or electric stimulation of the retinal axons induces neuronal response in SCN. However both the innervation pattern and evoked responses are not completely restored by the regenerating axons, suggesting that combining with other strategies is necessary to overcome the defective rewiring. Our results support that boosting the intrinsic growth capacity in injured neurons promotes axonal reinnervation and rewiring. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.
During cerebral cortex development, pyramidal neurons migrate through the intermediate zone and integrate into the cortical plate. These neurons undergo the multipolar-bipolar transition to initiate radial migration. While perturbation of this polarity acquisition leads to cortical malformations, how this process is initiated and regulated is largely unknown. Here we report that the specific upregulation of the Rap1 guanine nucleotide exchange factor, RapGEF2, in migrating neurons corresponds to the timing of this polarity transition. In utero electroporation and live-imaging studies reveal that RapGEF2 acts on the multipolar-bipolar transition during neuronal migration via a Rap1/N-cadherin pathway. Importantly, activation of RapGEF2 is controlled via phosphorylation by a serine/threonine kinase Cdk5, whose activity is largely restricted to the radial migration zone. Thus, the specific expression and Cdk5-dependent phosphorylation of RapGEF2 during multipolar-bipolar transition within the intermediate zone are essential for proper neuronal migration and wiring of the cerebral cortex.
- Jul 2014
Cycloastragenol (CAG) is an aglycone of astragaloside IV. It was first identified when screening Astragalus membranaceus extracts for active ingredients with antiaging properties. The present study demonstrates that CAG stimulates telomerase activity and cell proliferation in human neonatal keratinocytes. In particular, CAG promotes scratch wound closure of human neonatal keratinocyte monolayers in vitro. The distinct telomerase-activating property of CAG prompted evaluation of its potential application in the treatment of neurological disorders. Accordingly, CAG induced telomerase activity and cAMP response element binding (CREB) activation in PC12 cells and primary neurons. Blockade of CREB expression in neuronal cells by RNA interference reduced basal telomerase activity, and CAG was no longer efficacious in increasing telomerase activity. CAG treatment not only induced the expression of bcl2, a CREB-regulated gene, but also the expression of telomerase reverse transcriptase in primary cortical neurons. Interestingly, oral administration of CAG for 7 days attenuated depression-like behavior in experimental mice. In conclusion, CAG stimulates telomerase activity in human neonatal keratinocytes and rat neuronal cells, and induces CREB activation followed by tert and bcl2 expression. Furthermore, CAG may have a novel therapeutic role in depression. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.
Alzheimer's disease (AD), characterized by cognitive decline, has emerged as a disease of synaptic failure. The present study reveals an unanticipated role of erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular A4 (EphA4) in mediating hippocampal synaptic dysfunctions in AD and demonstrates that blockade of the ligand-binding domain of EphA4 reverses synaptic impairment in AD mouse models. Enhanced EphA4 signaling was observed in the hippocampus of amyloid precursor protein (APP)/presenilin 1 (PS1) transgenic mouse model of AD, whereas soluble amyloid-β oligomers (Aβ), which contribute to synaptic loss in AD, induced EphA4 activation in rat hippocampal slices. EphA4 depletion in the CA1 region or interference with EphA4 function reversed the suppression of hippocampal long-term potentiation in APP/PS1 transgenic mice, suggesting that the postsynaptic EphA4 is responsible for mediating synaptic plasticity impairment in AD. Importantly, we identified a small-molecule rhynchophylline as a novel EphA4 inhibitor based on molecular docking studies. Rhynchophylline effectively blocked the EphA4-dependent signaling in hippocampal neurons, and oral administration of rhynchophylline reduced the EphA4 activity effectively in the hippocampus of APP/PS1 transgenic mice. More importantly, rhynchophylline administration restored the impaired long-term potentiation in transgenic mouse models of AD. These findings reveal a previously unidentified role of EphA4 in mediating AD-associated synaptic dysfunctions, suggesting that it is a new therapeutic target for this disease.
- May 2014
The radial migration of newborn neurons is critical for the lamination of the cerebral cortex. Proper neuronal migration requires precise and rapid reorganization of the actin and microtubule cytoskeleton. However, the underlying signaling mechanisms controlling cytoskeletal reorganization are not well understood. Here, we show that Mst3, a serine/threonine kinase highly expressed in the developing mouse brain, is essential for radial neuronal migration and final neuronal positioning in the developing mouse neocortex. Mst3 silencing by in utero electroporation perturbed the multipolar-to-bipolar transition of migrating neurons and significantly retards radial migration. Although the kinase activity of Mst3 is essential for its functions in neuronal morphogenesis and migration, it is regulated via its phosphorylation at Ser79 by a serine/threonine kinase, cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5). Our results show that Mst3 regulates neuronal migration through modulating the activity of RhoA, a Rho-GTPase critical for actin cytoskeletal reorganization. Mst3 phosphorylates RhoA at Ser26, thereby negatively regulating the GTPase activity of RhoA. Importantly, RhoA knockdown successfully rescues neuronal migration defect in Mst3-knockdown cortices. Our findings collectively suggest that Cdk5-Mst3 signaling regulates neuronal migration via RhoA-dependent actin dynamics.
- May 2014
The present invention provides therapeutically active oxazolidine derivatives and compositions as NMDA antagonists, which are useful in preventing and treating central nervous system disorders by inhibiting over-activation of NMDA receptors. In one aspect, the present invention provides methods of treating and/or preventing neurodegenerative diseases and neuropathological disorders, methods of providing neuroprotection under stress conditions such as a stroke, and methods of enhancing the brain's cognitive functions in mammals and humans. For example, the compounds can prevent glutamate-induced neuro-toxicity by inhibiting the activities of the NMDA receptor in the presence of toxic doses of NMDA. In addition, the compounds can potentiate the calcium current in the presence of low dose of NMDA.
The maintenance of a high density of neurotransmitter receptors at the postsynaptic apparatus is critical for efficient neurotransmission. Acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) are neurotransmitter receptors densely packed on the postsynaptic muscle membrane at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) via anchoring onto the actin cytoskeletal network. However, how the receptor-associated actin is coordinately regulated is not fully understood. We report here that Coronin 6, a newly identified member of the coronin family, is highly enriched at adult NMJs and regulates AChR clustering through modulating the interaction between receptors and the actin cytoskeletal network. Experiments with cultured myotubes reveal that Coronin 6 is important for both agrin- and laminin-induced AChR clustering. Furthermore, Coronin 6 forms a complex with AChRs and actin in a manner dependent on its C-terminal region and a conserved Arg(29) residue at the N terminus, both of which are critical for the cytoskeletal anchorage of AChRs. Importantly, in vivo knockdown of Coronin 6 in mouse skeletal muscle fibers leads to destabilization of AChR clusters. Together, these findings demonstrate that Coronin 6 is a critical regulator of AChR clustering at the postsynaptic region of the NMJs through modulating the receptor-anchored actin cytoskeleton.
- Feb 2014
The present invention provides therapeutically active compounds and compositions as NMDA and MC receptor antagonists, which are useful in treating central nervous system disorders by over-activation of NMDA and/or MC receptors. In one aspect, the present invention provides methods of enhancing brain's cognitive function and reducing neuronal cell death in mammals and humans.
- Jan 2014
Cytoskeletal restructuring is essential for nearly all cellular processes in the developing brain. After cell fate determination, newborn cortical neurons must migrate to their final positions while establishing proper axon-dendrite polarity. Significant progress has recently been made towards understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal polarization in vivo. Collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP2) has long been identified as a microtubule-binding protein that regulates neuronal polarity in vitro. Recent studies provide new insights into the roles of CRMP2 in neuronal migration and subsequent neuronal differentiation. Both the expression and activity of CRMP2 are tightly regulated during cortex development. CRMP2 is suggested to be important in the multipolar-bipolar transition in radial migration. The increasing number of known interaction partners indicates that CRMP2 has functions beyond cytoskeletal regulation, including axonal transport, vesicle trafficking, and neurotransmitter release. This review discusses the current knowledge about CRMP2 in the context of neuronal development and highlights a recent emerging theme regarding its potential therapeutic applications.
Research in autophagy continues to accelerate,(1) and as a result many new scientists are entering the field. Accordingly, it is important to establish a standard set of criteria for monitoring macroautophagy in different organisms. Recent reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose.(2,3) There are many useful and convenient methods that can be used to monitor macroautophagy in yeast, but relatively few in other model systems, and there is much confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure macroautophagy in higher eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers of autophagosomes versus those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway; thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from fully functional autophagy that includes delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of the methods that can be used by investigators who are attempting to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as by reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that investigate these processes. This set of guidelines is not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to verify an autophagic response.
- Sep 2013
Dendritic spines are specialized structures on neuronal processes where the majority of excitatory synapses are localized. Spines are highly dynamic, and their stabilization and morphology are influenced by synaptic activity. This extrinsic regulation of spine morphogenesis underlies experience-dependent brain development and information storage within the brain's circuitry. In this review, we summarize recent findings that demonstrate the phenomenon of activity-dependent structural plasticity and the molecular mechanisms by which synaptic activity sculpt neuronal connections. Impaired structural plasticity is associated with perturbed brain function in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. Information from the mechanistic studies therefore provides important insights into the design of therapeutic strategies for these brain disorders.
Unlabelled: The expansion of the mammalian cerebral cortex is safeguarded by a concerted balance between amplification and neuronal differentiation of intermediate progenitors (IPs). Nonetheless, the molecular controls governing these processes remain unclear. We found that the scaffold protein Axin is a critical regulator that determines the IP population size and ultimately the number of neurons during neurogenesis in the developing cerebral cortex. The increase of the IP pool is mediated by the interaction between Axin and GSK-3 in the cytoplasmic compartments of the progenitors. Importantly, as development proceeds, Axin becomes enriched in the nucleus to trigger neuronal differentiation via β-catenin activation. The nuclear localization of Axin and hence the switch of IPs from proliferative to differentiative status are strictly controlled by the Cdk5-dependent phosphorylation of Axin at Thr485. Our results demonstrate an important Axin-dependent regulatory mechanism in neurogenesis, providing potential insights into the evolutionary expansion of the cerebral cortex. Video abstract:
Neurons communicate through neurotransmission at the synapse. Precise regulation of the synaptic structure and signaling during the formation and remodeling of synapses is vital for information processing between neurons. Scaffold proteins play key roles in synapses by tethering the signaling cascades spatially and temporally to ensure proper brain functioning. This review summarizes the recent evidence indicating that Axin, a scaffold protein, plays a central role in orchestrating presynaptic and postsynaptic signaling complexes to regulate synapse development and plasticity in the central nervous system. © 2013 IUBMB Life, 2013.
Precise regulation of neurite growth and differentiation determines accurate formation of synaptic connections, whose disruptions are frequently associated with neurological disorders. Dedicator of cytokinesis 4 (Dock4), an atypical guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) for Rac1, is found to be associated with neuropsychiatric diseases including autism and schizophrenia. Nonetheless, the neuronal function of Dock4 is only beginning to be understood. Using mouse neuroblastoma (Neuro-2a) cells as a model, this study identifies that Dock4 is critical for neurite differentiation and extension. This regulation is through activation of Rac1 and modulation of the dynamics of actin-enriched protrusions on the neurites. In cultured hippocampal neurons, Dock4 regulates the establishment of the axon-dendrite polarity and the arborization of dendrites, two critical processes during neural differentiation. Importantly, a microdeletion Dock4 mutant linked to autism and dyslexia that lacks the GEF domain leads to defective neurite outgrowth and neuronal polarization. Further analysis reveals that the SH3 domain mediated interaction of Dock4 is required for its activity towards neurite differentiation, whereas its proline-rich C-terminus is not essential for this regulation. Together, our findings reveal an important role of Dock4 for neurite differentiation during early neuronal development.
Oleanolic acid (3β-hydroxy-olea-12-en-28-oic acid) is a natural pentacyclic triterpenoic acid found in many fruits, herbs and medicinal plants. In the past decade, increasing evidence has suggested that oleanolic acid exhibits inhibitory activities against different types of cancer including skin cancer and colon cancer, but not leukemia. We report here that a derivative of oleanolic acid, olean-12-eno[2,3-c] , , oxadiazol-28-oic acid (designated OEOA) effectively blocks the proliferation of human leukemia cells. OEOA significantly reduces cell proliferation without inducing cell death in three types of leukemia cell lines, including K562, HEL and Jurket. Moreover, exposure of K562 cells to OEOA results in G1 cell cycle arrest, with a concomitant induction of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27 and downregulation of cyclins and Cdks that are essential for cell cycle progression. Interestingly, OEOA also enhances erythroid differentiation in K562 cells through suppressing the expression of Bcr-Abl and phosphorylation of Erk1/2. These findings identify a novel chemical entity for further development as therapeutics against leukemia.
- Feb 2013
This invention relates to extract, fractions and isolated compound of Rhodiola rosea, and uses thereof for treating neuropathological and neurodegenerative diseases. The extracts and compounds of the present invention inhibit the aggregation of alpha-synuclein. In one embodiment, Rhodiola rosea extracts and compounds of the present invention can be used to treat synucleinopathies including PD, dementia with Lewy bodies, pure autonomic failure, multiple system atrophy, and Alzheimer's disease.
Learning and memory require orchestrated regulation of both structural and functional synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. While a neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, α-MSH, has been implicated in memory acquisition and retention, the functional role of its cognate receptor, melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R), in hippocampal-dependent synaptic plasticity has not been explored. In this study, we report that activation of MC4R enhances synaptic plasticity through the regulation of dendritic spine morphology and abundance of AMPA receptors. We show that activation of postsynaptic MC4R increases the number of mature dendritic spines and enhances surface expression of AMPA receptor subunit GluA1, resulting in synaptic accumulation of GluA1-containing AMPA receptors. Moreover, MC4R stimulates surface GluA1 trafficking through phosphorylation of GluA1 at Ser845 in a Gα(s)-cAMP/PKA-dependent manner. Blockade of protein kinase A (PKA) signaling abolishes the MC4R-mediated enhancement of neurotransmission and hippocampal long-term potentiation. Importantly, in vivo application of MC4R agonists increases LTP in the mouse hippocampal CA1 region. These findings reveal that MC4R in the hippocampus plays a critical role in the regulation of structural and functional plasticity.
Twenty nine novel spiroketal derivatives related to the rubromycins were evaluated for their anti-telomerase activity using the real-time quantitative telomeric repeat amplification protocol assay. The parent compound gamma-rubromycin exhibited the highest potency against human telomerase activity within the series. Modification of the spiroketal motif by the introduction of heteroatoms and substituents at different positions produced analogues with varying bioactivity. Variation at the isocoumarin subunit of the title compound resulted in weaker activity, indicative of its importance in telomerase inhibition.
Four series of novel heterodimers comprised of donepezil and huperzine A (HupA) fragments were designed, synthesized, and evaluated in search of potent acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors as potential therapeutic treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Heterodimers comprised of dimethoxyindanone (from donepezil), hupyridone (from HupA), and connected with a multimethylene linker, were identified as potent and selective inhibitors of AChE. Diastereomeric heterodimers (RS,S)-17b (with a tetramethylene linker) exhibited the highest potency of inhibition towards AChE with an IC(50) value of 9nM and no detectable inhibitory effect on butyrylcholinesterase at 1mM.
Injury to the central nervous system often leads to irreversible deficits because of the failure of damaged axons to regrow and restore the functional neural circuitry. Coordinated orchestration of multiple cellular processes including cytoskeletal dynamics and gene expression are essential for both developmental and regenerative axon growth. Recently, mounting evidence suggests that cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5), a neuronal kinase implicated in almost all aspects of brain development and function, regulates multiple players required for axon formation and regeneration. Indeed, Cdk5 functions as a "plastic" kinase that maintains the axon growth ability by enabling efficient cytoskeletal reorganization, enhancing protein translation, reducing protein degradation, and promoting injury-induced gene transcription. Here, we summarize the up-to-date information on the mechanisms underlying the axon growth and regeneration after injury.
The neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor TrkB participate in diverse neuronal functions, including activity-dependent synaptic plasticity that is crucial for learning and memory. On binding to BDNF, TrkB is not only autophosphorylated at tyrosine residues but also undergoes serine phosphorylation at S478 by the serine/threonine kinase cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5). However, the in vivo function of this serine phosphorylation remains unknown. We generated knock-in mice lacking this serine phosphorylation (Trkb(S478A/S478A) mice) and found that the TrkB phosphorylation-deficient mice displayed impaired spatial memory and compromised hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP). S478 phosphorylation of TrkB regulates its interaction with the Rac1-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor TIAM1, leading to activation of Rac1 and phosphorylation of S6 ribosomal protein during activity-dependent dendritic spine remodeling. These findings reveal the importance of Cdk5-mediated S478 phosphorylation of TrkB in activity-dependent structural plasticity, which is crucial for LTP and spatial memory formation.
- Jun 2012
Dendrites are the primary sites on neurons for receiving and integrating inputs from their presynaptic partners. Defects in dendrite development perturb the formation of neural circuitry and impair information processing in the brain. Extracellular cues are important for shaping the dendritic morphogenesis, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are not well understood. In this study, we examined the role of ARMS (ankyrin repeat-rich membrane spanning protein), also known as Kidins220 (kinase D-interacting substrate of 220 kDa), previously identified as a downstream target of neurotrophin and ephrin receptors, in dendrite development. We report here that knockdown of ARMS/Kidins220 by in utero electroporation impairs dendritic branching in mouse cerebral cortex, and silencing of ARMS/Kidins220 in primary rat hippocampal neurons results in a significant decrease in the length, number, and complexity of the dendritic arbors. Overexpression of cell surface receptor tyrosine kinases, including TrkB and EphB2, in ARMS/Kidins220-deficient neurons can partially rescue the defective dendritic phenotype. More importantly, we show that PI3K (phosphoinositide-3-kinase)- and Akt-mediated signaling pathway is crucial for ARMS/Kidins220-dependent dendrite development. Furthermore, loss of ARMS/Kidins220 significantly reduced the clustering of EphB2 receptor signaling complex in neurons. Our results collectively suggest that ARMS/Kidins220 is a key player in organizing the signaling complex to transduce the extracellular stimuli to cellular responses during dendrite development.
The vertebrate neuromuscular junction (NMJ), a peripheral synapse formed between motoneuron and skeletal muscle, is characterized by a protracted postnatal period of maturation and life-long maintenance. In neuromuscular disorders such as congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMSs), disruptions of NMJ maturation and/or maintenance are frequently observed. In particular, defective neuromuscular transmission associated with structural and molecular abnormalities at the pre- and postsynaptic membranes, as well as at the synaptic cleft, has been reported in these patients. Here, we review recent advances in the understanding of molecular and cellular events that mediate NMJ maturation and maintenance. The underlying regulatory mechanisms, including key molecular regulators at the presynaptic nerve terminal, synaptic cleft, and postsynaptic muscle membrane, are discussed.
In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5), a member of the cyclin-dependent kinase family, is critical for regulating neural development and neuronal survival. Dysregulation of Cdk5 is associated with abnormal expression of cell cycle-related proteins during neuronal apoptosis. We have previously found that p35, a Cdk5 activator, interacts with mSds3, an integral component of the histone deacetylase complex in vitro, suggesting a functional role of Cdk5 in gene regulation through modulation of chromatin integrity. In this study, we further demonstrate that Cdk5-dependent phosphorylation of mSds3 at Ser228 occurs in mouse brain nuclei. The expression of mSds3 protein and its interaction with Cdk5 activators is developmentally regulated in the mouse brain. Importantly, our findings suggest that the ability of Cdk5 to regulate activity deprivation-induced apoptosis of cerebellar granule neurons is likely mediated by the regulation of histone acetylation. Suppression of Cdk5 not only attenuates the induction of histone H3 acetylation and the aberrant upregulation of cyclin proteins in neurons after activity deprivation, but also results in protection of neurons against apoptotic cell death. Taken together, our findings suggest that Cdk5 regulates neuronal survival by precise epigenetic control through modulation of histone acetylation.
Since the identification of cyclin-dependent kinase-5 (Cdk5) as a tau kinase and member of the Cdk family almost 20 years ago, deregulation of Cdk5 activity has been linked to an array of neurodegenerative diseases. As knowledge on the etiopathological mechanisms of these diseases evolved through the years, Cdk5 has also been implicated in additional cellular events that are affected under these pathological conditions. From the role of Cdk5 in the regulation of synaptic functions to its involvement in autophagy deregulation, significant insights have been obtained regarding the role of Cdk5 as a key regulator of neurodegeneration. Here, we summarize recent findings on the involvement of Cdk5 in the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying various neurodegenerative diseases.
The ability to regulate inhibitory synapses is a critical feature of the nervous system and a growing body of evidence indicates that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) acutely modulates the efficacy of GABA synaptic transmission. Although the neuronal potassium-chloride cotransporter 2 (KCC2) has been implied in this BDNF-induced ionic plasticity, the reports about actions of BDNF on GABA signaling remain conflicting. Here we show dual effects of BDNF on GABAergic synaptic transmission in Purkinje neurons in rat cerebellar slices. BDNF decreased the amplitude of evoked outward IPSCs postsynaptically. It induced a depolarizing shift in the reversal potential (E(IPSC)), which reduced the driving force for outward IPSCs. However, in the absence of KCC2 activity, BDNF directly potentiated rather than inhibited GABA(A) receptor, which was reflected by an increase in the amplitude of outward IPSCs. This action of BDNF coincided with its effect in increasing the amplitude of inward IPSCs. Furthermore, an interaction between GABA(A) receptor and KCC2 was revealed by co-immunoprecipitation. The effects of BDNF on both GABA(A) receptor and KCC2 were dependent on TrkB and also activation of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5). However, only the effect of BDNF on KCC2 activity was dependent on a rise of intracellular calcium. Taken together, these data highlight distinct actions of BDNF on KCC2 and GABA(A) receptor in the regulation of GABAergic synaptic transmission.
Disrupted cortical neuronal migration is associated with epileptic seizures and developmental delay. However, the molecular mechanism by which disruptions of early cortical development result in neurological symptoms is poorly understood. Here we report α2-chimaerin as a key regulator of cortical neuronal migration and function. In utero suppression of α2-chimaerin arrested neuronal migration at the multipolar stage, leading to accumulation of ectopic neurons in the subcortical region. Mice with such migration defects showed an imbalance between excitation and inhibition in local cortical circuitry and greater susceptibility to convulsant-induced seizures. We further show that α2-chimaerin regulates bipolar transition and neuronal migration through modulating the activity of CRMP-2, a microtubule-associated protein. These findings establish a new α2-chimaerin-dependent mechanism underlying neuronal migration and proper functioning of the cerebral cortex and provide insights into the pathogenesis of seizure-related neurodevelopmental disorders.
Precise regulation of synapse formation, maintenance and plasticity is crucial for normal cognitive function, and synaptic failure has been suggested as one of the hallmarks of neurodegenerative diseases. In this review, we describe the recent progress in our understanding of how the receptor tyrosine kinase Ephs and their ligands ephrins regulate dendritic spine morphogenesis, synapse formation and maturation, as well as synaptic plasticity. In particular, we discuss the emerging evidence implicating that deregulation of Eph/ephrin signaling contributes to the aberrant synaptic functions associated with cognitive impairment in Alzheimer's disease. Understanding how Eph/ephrin regulates synaptic function may therefore provide new insights into the development of therapeutic agents against neurodegenerative diseases.
Two Chinese herb-derived small molecule telomerase activators, astragaloside IV (AG-IV) and cycloastragenol (CAG), have recently been shown to improve the proliferative response of CD8+ T lymphocytes from HIV-infected patients by upregulating telomerase activity. Here, we examined the signaling mechanism of AG-IV and CAG. Telomerase activity in human embryonic kidney HEK293 fibroblasts was increased upon treatment with increasing concentrations of AG-IV or CAG. Both compounds induced the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) in a time- and dose-dependent manner in HEK293 cells and HEK-neo keratinocytes. AG-IV and CAG also stimulated ERK phosphorylation in other cell lines of lung, brain, mammary, endothelial, and hematopoietic origins. Use of selective inhibitors and dominant negative mutants revealed the involvement of c-Src, MEK (ERK kinase), and epidermal growth factor receptor in CAG-induced ERK phosphorylation. Our data indicate that AG-IV and CAG may exert their cellular effects through the activation of the Src/MEK/ERK pathway.
Accumulating evidence reveals that synaptic dysfunction precedes neuronal loss in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Intriguingly, synaptic abnormality is also implicated in a myriad of psychiatric disorders including depression. In particular, alterations in spine density and morphology have been associated with aberrant synaptic activity in these diseased brains. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of spine morphogenesis, synaptic function and plasticity under physiological and pathological conditions will therefore provide critical insights for the development of potential therapeutic agents against these diseases. Here we summarize existing knowledge on some of the molecular players in synaptic plasticity, and highlight how these findings from basic neuroscientific research aid in the identification of novel drug leads for the development of therapeutics.
A new triterpenoid, 4,4,14α-trimethyl-5α-chol-7,9(11)-dien-3-oxo-24-oic acid (1), together with seven known triterpenoids, were isolated from the dried fruiting bodies of Ganoderma lucidum. Their structures were elucidated by extensive spectroscopic analyses. Bioassay results revealed that compounds 1 and methyl ganoderic acid B (5) had nerve growth factor-like neuronal survival-promoting effects, whereas compounds 1, and 4-7 showed brain-derived neurotrophic factor-like neuronal survival-promoting activities.
- Sep 2011
Axon formation is critical for the establishment of connections between neurons, which is a prerequisite for the development of neural circuitry. Kinases such as cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) and glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β), have been implicated to regulate axon outgrowth. Nonetheless, the in vivo roles of these kinases in axon development and the underlying signaling mechanisms remain essentially unknown. We report here that Cdk5 is important for axon formation in mouse cerebral cortex through regulating the functions of axis inhibitor (Axin), a scaffold protein of the canonical Wnt pathway. Knockdown of Axin in utero abolishes the formation and projection of axons. Importantly, Axin is phosphorylated by Cdk5, and this phosphorylation facilitates the interaction of Axin with GSK-3β, resulting in inhibition of GSK-3β activity and dephosphorylation of its substrate collapsin response mediator protein-2 (CRMP-2), a microtubule-associated protein. Specifically, both phosphorylation of Axin and its interaction with GSK-3β are critically required for axon formation in mouse cortex development. Together, our findings reveal a new regulatory mechanism of axon formation through Cdk5-dependent phosphorylation of Axin.
- Jul 2011
Macroautophagy maintains cellular homeostasis through targeting cytoplasmic contents and organelles into autophagosomes for degradation. This process begins with the assembly of protein complexes on isolation membrane to initiate the formation of autophagosome, followed by its nucleation, elongation and maturation. Fusion of autophagosomes with lysosomes then leads to degradation of the cargo. In the past decade, significant advances have been made on the identification of molecular players that are implicated in various stages of macroautophagy. Post-translational modifications of macroautophagy regulators have also been demonstrated to be critical for the selective targeting of cytoplasmic contents into autophagosomes. In addition, recent demonstration of distinct macroautophagy regulators has led to the identification of different subtypes of macroautophagy. Since deregulation of macroautophagy is implicated in diseases including neurodegenerative disorders, cancers and inflammatory disorders, understanding the molecular machinery of macroautophagy is crucial for elucidating the mechanisms by which macroautophagy is deregulated in these diseases, thereby revealing new potential therapeutic targets and strategies. Here we summarize current knowledge on the regulation of mammalian macroautophagy machineries and their disease-associated deregulation.
A new carotenoid glycoside, namely neo-rehmannioside (1), together with five known compounds, 6-O-seco-hydroxyaeginetoyl ajugol (2), oxyrehmaionoside B (3), ajugol (4), geniposidic acid (5) and geniposide (6) was isolated from the 95% ethanol extract of dry roots of Rehmannia glutinosa. The structure of the new compound (1) was determined based on MS, IR, 1-D and 2-D NMR spectral data.
Previously, challenges faced by women scientists have made it difficult for them to realize their dreams. The remarkable growth of Asian bioscience over the past decade, however, has created opportunities for young women in their home countries. The time is ripe for women in Asia to pursue their scientific aspirations.
Scapinin is an actin- and PP1-binding protein that is exclusively expressed in the brain; however, its function in neurons has not been investigated. Here we show that expression of scapinin in primary rat cortical neurons inhibits axon elongation without affecting axon branching, dendritic outgrowth, or polarity. This inhibitory effect was dependent on its ability to bind actin because a mutant form that does not bind actin had no effect on axon elongation. Immunofluorescence analysis showed that scapinin is predominantly located in the distal axon shaft, cell body, and nucleus of neurons and displays a reciprocal staining pattern to phalloidin, consistent with previous reports that it binds actin monomers to inhibit polymerization. We show that scapinin is phosphorylated at a highly conserved site in the central region of the protein (Ser-277) by Cdk5 in vitro. Expression of a scapinin phospho-mimetic mutant (S277D) restored normal axon elongation without affecting actin binding. Instead, phosphorylated scapinin was sequestered in the cytoplasm of neurons and away from the axon. Because its expression is highest in relatively plastic regions of the adult brain (cortex, hippocampus), scapinin is a new regulator of neurite outgrowth and neuroplasticity in the brain.
Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) is a serine/threonine kinase that is increasingly implicated in various neurodegenerative diseases. Deregulated Cdk5 activity has been associated with neuronal death, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here we report an unexpected role for Cdk5 in the regulation of induced autophagy in neurons. We have identified endophilin B1 (EndoB1) as a Cdk5 substrate, and show that Cdk5-mediated phosphorylation of EndoB1 is required for autophagy induction in starved neurons. Furthermore, phosphorylation of EndoB1 facilitates EndoB1 dimerization and recruitment of UVRAG (UV radiation resistance-associated gene). More importantly, Cdk5-mediated phosphorylation of EndoB1 is essential for autophagy induction and neuronal loss in models of Parkinson’s disease. Our findings not only establish Cdk5 as a critical regulator of autophagy induction, but also reveal a role for Cdk5 and EndoB1 in the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease through modulating autophagy.
J. Neurochem. (2011) 118, 315–316. Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved homeostatic process for the turnover of cellular contents, organelles and misfolded proteins through the lysosomal machinery. Recently, the involvement of autophagy in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases has attracted considerable interest because autophagy deregulation has been linked to some of these neurodegenerative disorders. This interest is further heightened by the demonstration that various autophagic pathways, including macroautophagy and chaperone-mediated autophagy, are implicated in the turnover of proteins that are prone to aggregation in cellular or animal disease models. These observations have stimulated new awareness in the pivotal role of the autophagic pathways in neurodegenerative disease pathophysiology, and have sparked extensive research aimed at deciphering the mechanisms by which autophagy is altered in these disorders. Here, we summarize the latest advances in our understanding of the role of autophagy deregulation in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease.
Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) is a serine/threonine kinase that is increasingly implicated in various neurodegenerative diseases. Deregulated Cdk5 activity has been associated with neuronal death, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here we report an unexpected role for Cdk5 in the regulation of induced autophagy in neurons. We have identified endophilin B1 (EndoB1) as a Cdk5 substrate, and show that Cdk5-mediated phosphorylation of EndoB1 is required for autophagy induction in starved neurons. Furthermore, phosphorylation of EndoB1 facilitates EndoB1 dimerization and recruitment of UVRAG (UV radiation resistance-associated gene). More importantly, Cdk5-mediated phosphorylation of EndoB1 is essential for autophagy induction and neuronal loss in models of Parkinson's disease. Our findings not only establish Cdk5 as a critical regulator of autophagy induction, but also reveal a role for Cdk5 and EndoB1 in the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease through modulating autophagy.
Telomeres are repetitive sequences of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes which determine and restrict the number of replications a cell can undertake. In the majority of cancer cells, telomerase has been found to maintain the length of telomeres, conferring cell immortality and prevention of cell senescence. With the ready availability of assays to detect telomerase activity, numerous telomerase inhibitors have been discovered from a variety of natural sources. This article gives an outline of these natural product-based telomerase inhibitors and their inspiration for analogue design.
The objective of the present study was to elucidate the mechanisms of intestinal transport of bis(12)-hupyridone (B12H) to predict its oral bioavailability. The effect of the B12H concentration and the contribution of the drug efflux transporters, P-glycoprotein (P-gp or ABCB1) and multidrug resistance-associated proteins (MRPs or ABCC) on B12H absorption were measured and evaluated using the human intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cell monolayer in the presence of transporter inhibitors. The results indicated that B12H was absorbed in a dose-dependent manner at concentrations ranging from 132 to 264 µM. However, only apical efflux was observed in the directional transport studies for B12H below 88 µM (P(app) (AP-to-BL): virtually zero; P(app) (BL-to-AP): 1.591 ± 0.071 × 10(-5) cm s(-1) ). P-gp and mixed P-gp/MRP inhibitors significantly increased the absorptive transport (P(app) (AP-to-BL)) to 0.619 ± 0.018 × 10(-5) and 0.608 ± 0.025 × 10(-5) cm s(-1) , respectively, while decreasing secretory transport (P(app) (BL-to-AP)) by >75%. A multiple-MRP inhibitor, probenecid, increased the P(app) (AP-to-BL) to 0.329 ± 0.015 × 10(-5) cm s(-1) while decreasing the P(app) (BL-to-AP) by 50%. Another multiple-MRP inhibitor, indomethacin, only modestly decreased the P(app) (BL-to-AP) by ∼30% and had no effect on the absorptive transport (P(app) (AP-to-BL): virtually zero). In addition, the effect of various pharmaceutical excipients (e.g. Pluronic F-68, Tween-80 and Brij-35) on B12H transport was determined and compared. Among them, Brij-35 effectively enhanced B12H absorption at a concentration lower than its critical micelle concentration (CMC, 60 µM). Therefore, Brij-35 can be used as a potential enhancer to improve intestinal absorption of B12H for oral administration.
Homeostatic plasticity is crucial for maintaining neuronal output by counteracting unrestrained changes in synaptic strength. Chronic elevation of synaptic activity by bicuculline reduces the amplitude of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs), but the underlying mechanisms of this effect remain unclear. We found that activation of EphA4 resulted in a decrease in synaptic and surface GluR1 and attenuated mEPSC amplitude through a degradation pathway that requires the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS). Elevated synaptic activity resulted in increased tyrosine phosphorylation of EphA4, which associated with the ubiquitin ligase anaphase-promoting complex (APC) and its activator Cdh1 in neurons in a ligand-dependent manner. APC(Cdh1) interacted with and targeted GluR1 for proteasomal degradation in vitro, whereas depletion of Cdh1 in neurons abolished the EphA4-dependent downregulation of GluR1. Knockdown of EphA4 or Cdh1 prevented the reduction in mEPSC amplitude in neurons that was a result of chronic elevated activity. Our results define a mechanism by which EphA4 regulates homeostatic plasticity through an APC(Cdh1)-dependent degradation pathway.
- Jan 2011
In this work, the surface properties of a DNA microarray formed on silicon based solid support are studied at different stages during the hybridization process. A modified immobilization process using the covalent immobilization of thiol-terminated DNA oligonucleotides on self-assembled layers of (3-mercaptopropyl) trimethoxysilane (MPTS) by disulfide bond formation is used to selectively attach DNA probes onto the surface of silicon dioxide. Contact angle measurement is used to monitor the bonding of MPTS on the surface. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) shows an increase in particle size before and after the growth of the MPTS layer. Fluorescence microscopy reveals the success of hybridization of complementary oligonucleotides labeled by FAM to the probe. The effects of modified immobilization process on other common material in silicon processing are also studied. As a result of the corrosive chemical used in the process, common metals used in micro-fabrication processes like aluminum are etched away. Silicon nitride is not affected by the immobilization and hybridization process, and thus can be used as a passivation and isolation material to conform the DNA to a specific area for DNA microarray to reduce cross-talk. The fluorescence image from the scanner indicates silicon nitride can effectively be used as an isolation material with linewidth down to 1 μm.
Synapse remodeling, which involves changes in the synaptic structure and their molecular composition, is required for the maturation and refinement of neural circuits. Although synapse remodeling is known to be tightly dependent on the assembly of local actin cytoskeleton, how actin directs the structural changes of synapse and targeting of synaptic proteins are not fully understood. Recently, we identified ephexin1, a Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) that regulates actin dynamics, to play an essential role in the maturation and functioning of the mammalian neuromuscular junction (NMJ). We showed that ephexin1 regulates the synaptic organization of the neurotransmitter receptor acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clusters through RhoA-dependent actin reorganization. Interestingly, ephexin1 has been implicated in the regulation of postsynaptic structure as well as the presynaptic vesicle release at various types of synapses. Our findings thus establish a novel function of ephexin1 in synapse remodeling through regulating the synaptic targeting of neurotransmitter receptors, revealing a versatile role of ephexin1 at synapses.
- Oct 2010
The recent identification of Gα(z) expression in C2C12 myoblasts and its demonstrated interaction with the transcription factor Eya2 inferred an unanticipated role of Gα(z) in muscle development. In the present study, endogenous Gα(z) mRNA and protein expressions in C2C12 cells increased upon commencement of myogenesis and peaked at around 4-6days after induction but were undetectable in adult skeletal muscle. Surprisingly, stable expression of recombinant Gα(z) in C2C12 myoblasts strongly suppressed myotube formation upon serum deprivation, and the constitutively active mutant Gα(z)QL exerted more pronounced effects. Transcriptional activities of reporter genes responsive to early (MyoD, MEF2 and myogenin) and late (muscle creatine kinase and myosin heavy chain) myogenic markers were reduced by transiently expressed Gα(z)QL. Membrane attachment of Gα(z) was apparently required for the suppressive effects because a fatty acylation-deficient Gα(z) mutant could not inhibit myogenin expression. Introduction of siRNA against Gα(z) enhanced myogenin-driven luciferase activity and increased myosin heavy chain expression. Immunostaining of C2C12 cells over-expressing Gα(z) showed delayed nuclear expression of myogenin and severe myotube deformation. Gα(z) expression was accompanied by reduced levels of Rock2, RhoA and RhoGAP, enhanced expression of Rnd3, and a reduction of serum-responsive factor-driven reporter activity. These results support a novel role of Gα(z) in restraining myogenic differentiation through the disruption of Rho signaling.
Precise regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5), a member of the cyclin-dependent kinase family, is critical for proper neuronal development and functions. Cdk5 is activated through its association with the neuron-specific activator p35 or p39. Nonetheless, how its kinase activity is regulated in neurons is not well understood. In this study, we found that Cdk5 activity is regulated by S-nitrosylation, a post-translational modification of protein that affects a plethora of neuronal functions. S-nitrosylation of Cdk5 occurs at Cys83, which is one of the critical amino acids within the ATP-binding pocket of the kinase. Upon S-nitrosylation, Cdk5 exhibits reduced kinase activity, whereas mutation of Cys83 to Ala on Cdk5 renders the kinase refractory to such inhibition. Importantly, S-nitrosylated Cdk5 can be detected in the mouse brain, and blocking the S-nitrosylation of Cdk5 in cultured hippocampal neurons enhances dendritic growth and branching. Together, our findings reveal an important role of S-nitrosylation in regulating Cdk5 kinase activity and dendrite growth in neurons during development.
- Sep 2010
Cycloastragenol (CAG) is the aglycone derivative of astragaloside IV which has recently been demonstrated to activate telomerase and represents a potential drug candidate for the treatment of degenerative diseases. In the present study, intestinal absorption and metabolism of CAG were examined using the Caco-2 model and liver microsomes, respectively. The results showed that CAG rapidly passes through the Caco-2 cell monolayer by passive diffusion. Four different glucuronide conjugates and two oxidized CAG metabolites were found in the apical and basolateral sides of Caco-2 monolayer, suggesting that first-pass intestinal metabolism of CAG might occur upon passage through the intestinal epithelium. CAG underwent extensive metabolism in rat and human liver microsomes with only 17.4% and 8.2%, respectively, of the starting amount of CAG remaining after 30 min of incubation. Monohydroxylation of the parent and oxidization of the hydroxylated CAG were found in the liver samples. The present study indicates that CAG is efficiently absorbed through intestinal epithelium. However, extensive first-pass hepatic metabolism would limit the oral bioavailability of this compound.
- Jul 2010
Dammarane-type saponins (1-7), together with five known compounds, were isolated from the aerial parts of Gynostemma pentaphyllum. Compounds 1-4, 6 and 7 induced the phosphorylation of ERK protein in primary rat cortical neurons, which indicates their potential neuroactivity. On the other hand, no induction of ERK phosphorylation was observed for HEK293 cells following treatment with saponins 1, 3, 4 and 7.