Axon–Myelin Interactions during a Viral Infection of the Central Nervous System

The Fox Chase Cancer Center, United States of America
PLoS Pathogens (Impact Factor: 7.56). 09/2009; 5(9):e1000519. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000519
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Available from: Michel Brahic
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    • "The mutants have also indicated roles for CNPase in axoglial interactions at the nodes of Ranvier [6], and in proper myelination of small-diameter axons [7]. CNPase apparently takes part in both myelination and in a signal transduction cascade between myelin and the axon [8]. CNPase has also been implicated as a potential antigen and marker in autoimmune disease [9-11]. "
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    ABSTRACT: 2',3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase (CNPase) is an enigmatic enzyme specifically expressed at high levels in the vertebrate myelin sheath, whose function and physiological substrates are unknown. The protein consists of two domains: an uncharacterized N-terminal domain with little homology to other proteins, and a C-terminal phosphodiesterase domain. In order to be able to fully characterize CNPase structurally and functionally, we have set up expression systems for different domains of CNPase, using a total of 18 different expression constructs. CNPase was expressed in E. coli with a TEV-cleavable His-tag. Enzymatic activity assays indicated that the purified proteins were active and correctly folded. The folding of both the full-length protein, as well as the N- and C-terminal domains, was also studied by synchrotron CD spectroscopy. A thermal shift assay was used to optimize buffer compositions to be used during purification and storage. The assay also indicated that CNPase was most stable at a pH of 5.5, and could be significantly stabilized by high salt concentrations. We have been able to express and purify recombinantly several different domains of CNPase, including the isolated N-terminal domain, which is folded mainly into a beta-sheet structure. The expression system can be used as an efficient tool to elucidate the role of CNPase in the myelin sheath.
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    ABSTRACT: When the central nervous system (CNS) is under viral attack, defensive antiviral responses must necessarily arise from the CNS itself to rapidly and efficiently curb infections with minimal collateral damage to the sensitive, specialized and non-regenerating neural tissue. This presents a unique challenge because an intact blood-brain barrier (BBB) and lack of proper lymphatic drainage keeps the CNS virtually outside the radar of circulating immune cells that are at constant vigilance for antigens in peripheral tissues. Limited antigen presentation skills of CNS cells in comparison to peripheral tissues is because of a total lack of dendritic cells and feeble expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins in neurons and glia. However, research over the past two decades has identified immune effector mechanisms intrinsic to the CNS for immediate tackling, attenuating and clearing of viral infections, with assistance pouring in from peripheral circulation in the form of neutralizing antibodies and cytotoxic T cells at a later stage. Specialized CNS cells, microglia and astrocytes, were regarded as sole sentinels of the brain for containing a viral onslaught but neurons held little recognition as a potential candidate for protecting itself from the proliferation and pathogenesis of neurotropic viruses. Accumulating evidence however indicates that extracellular insult causes neurons to express immune factors characteristic of lymphoid tissues. This article aims to comprehensively analyze current research on this conditional alteration in the protein expression repertoire of neurons and the role it plays in CNS innate immune response to counter viral infections.
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    ABSTRACT: In the central nervous system (CNS) the majority of axons are surrounded by a myelin sheath, which is produced by oligodendrocytes. Myelin is a lipid-rich insulating material that facilitates the rapid conduction of electrical impulses along the myelinated nerve fibre. Proteolipid protein and its isoform DM20 constitute the most abundant protein component of CNS myelin. Mutations in the PLP1 gene encoding these myelin proteins cause Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease and the related allelic disorder, spastic paraplegia type 2. Animal models of these diseases, particularly models lacking or overexpressing Plp1, have shed light on the interplay between axons and oligodendrocytes, and how one component influences the other.
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