Paul F Worley

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

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Publications (267)2377.23 Total impact

  • No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: A large number of susceptibility genes have been implicated in psychiatric disorders with a developmental origin, yet their biological roles and signaling mechanisms in neurodevelopment are largely unknown. Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1), a susceptibility gene for several major psychiatric disorders, regulates the development of newborn neurons in the adult hippocampus. Systemic pharmacological inhibition of mTOR signaling with rapamycin has been shown to rescue DISC1 deficiency-induced neurodevelopmental defects, as well as cognitive and affective deficits. Whether mTOR signaling plays a cell-autonomous and/or non-cell-autonomous role in DISC1-dependent regulation of neuronal development is not clear. Here we provide genetic evidence that hyper-activation of mTOR activator Rheb1 (Ras homolog enriched in brain 1) in newborn neurons recapitulates DISC1 deficiency-induced neurodevelopmental defects, including neuronal morphogenesis and migration. We further show that genetic deletion of Rheb1 rescues those defects in a cell-autonomous fashion in developing newborn neurons in the adult hippocampus. Our genetic and functional studies demonstrate that Rheb1 acts as a key mediator of DISC1-dependent regulation of mTOR signaling and neuronal development during adult hippocampal neurogenesis.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015
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    ABSTRACT: One of the cardinal features of neural development and adult plasticity is the contribution of activity-dependent signaling pathways. However, the interrelationships between different activity-dependent genes are not well understood. The immediate early gene neuronal-activity-regulated pentraxin (NPTX2 or Narp) encodes a protein that has been associated with excitatory synaptogenesis, AMPA receptor aggregation, and the onset of critical periods. Here, we show that Narp is a direct transcriptional target of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), another highly regulated activity-dependent gene involved in synaptic plasticity. Unexpectedly, Narp is bidirectionally regulated by BDNF. Acute BDNF withdrawal results in downregulation of Narp, whereas transcription of Narp is greatly enhanced by BDNF. Furthermore, our results show that BDNF directly regulates Narp to mediate glutamatergic transmission and mossy fiber plasticity. Hence, Narp serves as a significant epistatic target of BDNF to regulate synaptic plasticity during periods of dynamic activity.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Cell Reports
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    ABSTRACT: N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptors are inhibited during acute exposure to ethanol and are involved in changes in neuronal plasticity following repeated ethanol exposure. The postsynaptic scaffolding protein Homer2 can regulate the cell surface expression of NMDA receptors in vivo, and mice with a null mutation of the Homer2 gene exhibit an alcohol-avoiding and -intolerant phenotype that is accompanied by a lack of ethanol-induced glutamate sensitization. Thus, Homer2 deletion may perturb the function or acute ethanol sensitivity of the NMDA receptor. In this study, the function and ethanol sensitivity of glutamate receptors in cultured hippocampal neurons from wild-type (WT) and Homer2 knock-out (KO) mice were examined at 7 and 14 days in vitro (DIV) using standard whole-cell voltage-clamp electrophysiology. As compared to wild-type controls, NMDA receptor current density was reduced in cultured hippocampal neurons from Homer2 KO mice at 14 DIV, but not at 7 DIV. There were no genotype-dependent changes in whole-cell capacitance or in currents evoked by kainic acid. The GluN2B-selective antagonist ifenprodil inhibited NMDA-evoked currents to a similar extent in both wild-type and Homer2 KO neurons and inhibition was greater at 7 versus 14 DIV. NMDA receptor currents from both WT and KO mice were inhibited by ethanol (10-100 mM) and the degree of inhibition did not differ as a function of genotype. In conclusion, NMDA receptor function, but not ethanol sensitivity, is reduced in hippocampal neurons lacking the Homer2 gene. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Synapse
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    Full-text · Dataset · Aug 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Drug addiction and reward learning both involve mechanisms in which reinforcing neuromodulators participate in changing synaptic strength. For example, dopamine receptor activation modulates corticostriatal plasticity through a mechanism involving the induction of the immediate early gene Homer 1a, the phosphorylation of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5)'s Homer ligand, and the enhancement of an NMDA receptor-dependent current. Inspired by hypotheses that Homer 1a functions selectively in recently-active synapses, we propose that Homer 1a is recruited by a synaptic tag to functionally discriminate between synapses that predict reward and those that do not. The involvement of Homer 1a in this mechanism further suggests that decaminutes-old firing patterns can define which synapses encode new information. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Brain research
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    ABSTRACT: Sensory integration difficulties have been reported in autism, but their underlying brain-circuit mechanisms are underexplored. Using five autism-related mouse models, Shank3+/Delta C, Mecp2(R308/Y), Cntnap2-/-, L7-Tsc1 (L7/Pcp2(Cre)::Tsc1(flox/+)), and patDp(15q11-13)/+, we report specific perturbations in delay eyeblink conditioning, a form of associative sensory learning requiring cerebellar plasticity. By distinguishing perturbations in the probability and characteristics of learned responses, we found that probability was reduced in Cntnap2-/-, patDp(15q11-13)/+, and L7/Pcp2(Cre)::Tsc1(flox/+), which are associated with Purkinje-cell/deep-nuclear gene expression, along with Shank3+/Delta C. Amplitudes were smaller in L7/Pcp2(Cre)::Tsc1(flox/+) as well as Shank3+/Delta C and Mecp2(R308/Y), which are associated with granule cell pathway expression. Shank3+/Delta C and Mecp2(R308/Y) also showed aberrant response timing and reduced Purkinje-cell dendritic spine density. Overall, our observations are potentially accounted for by defects in instructed learning in the olivocerebellar loop and response representation in the granule cell pathway. Our findings indicate that defects in associative temporal binding of sensory events are widespread in autism mouse models.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · eLife Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Arc is a cellular immediate-early gene (IEG) that functions at excitatory synapses and is required for learning and memory. We report crystal structures of Arc subdomains that form a bi-lobar architecture remarkably similar to the capsid domain of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gag protein. Analysis indicates Arc originated from the Ty3/Gypsy retrotransposon family and was "domesticated" in higher vertebrates for synaptic functions. The Arc N-terminal lobe evolved a unique hydrophobic pocket that mediates intermolecular binding with synaptic proteins as resolved in complexes with TARPγ2 (Stargazin) and CaMKII peptides and is essential for Arc's synaptic function. A consensus sequence for Arc binding identifies several additional partners that include genes implicated in schizophrenia. Arc N-lobe binding is inhibited by small chemicals suggesting Arc's synaptic action may be druggable. These studies reveal the remarkable evolutionary origin of Arc and provide a structural basis for understanding Arc's contribution to neural plasticity and disease. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Neuron
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    ABSTRACT: Protein kinase C epsilon (PKCε) is emerging as a potential target for the development of pharmacotherapies to treat alcohol use disorders, yet little is known regarding how a history of a highly prevalent form of drinking, binge alcohol intake, influences enzyme priming or the functional relevance of kinase activity for excessive alcohol intake. Immunoblotting was employed on tissue from subregions of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and the amygdala to examine both idiopathic and binge drinking-induced changes in constitutive PKCε priming. The functional relevance of PKCε translocation for binge drinking and determination of potential upstream signaling pathways involved were investigated using neuropharmacologic approaches within the context of two distinct binge drinking procedures, drinking in the dark and scheduled high alcohol consumption. Binge alcohol drinking elevated p(Ser729)-PKCε levels in both the NAc and the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA). Moreover, immunoblotting studies of selectively bred and transgenic mouse lines revealed a positive correlation between the propensity to binge drink alcohol and constitutive p(Ser729)-PKCε levels in the NAc and CeA. Finally, neuropharmacologic inhibition of PKCε translocation within both regions reduced binge alcohol consumption in a manner requiring intact group 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors, Homer2, phospholipase C, and/or phosphotidylinositide-3 kinase function. Taken together, these data indicate that PKCε signaling in both the NAc and CeA is a major contributor to binge alcohol drinking and to the genetic propensity to consume excessive amounts of alcohol. Copyright © 2015 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Biological psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Circuit computation requires precision in the timing, extent, and synchrony of principal cell (PC) firing that is largely enforced by parvalbumin-expressing, fast-spiking interneurons (PVFSIs). To reliably coordinate network activity, PVFSIs exhibit specialized synaptic and membrane properties that promote efficient afferent recruitment such as expression of high-conductance, rapidly gating, GluA4-containing AMPA receptors (AMPARs). We found that PVFSIs upregulate GluA4 during the second postnatal week coincident with increases in the AMPAR clustering proteins NPTX2 and NPTXR. Moreover, GluA4 is dramatically reduced in NPTX2(-/-)/NPTXR(-/-) mice with consequent reductions in PVFSI AMPAR function. Early postnatal NPTX2(-/-)/NPTXR(-/-) mice exhibit delayed circuit maturation with a prolonged critical period permissive for giant depolarizing potentials. Juvenile NPTX2(-/-)/NPTXR(-/-) mice display reduced feedforward inhibition yielding a circuit deficient in rhythmogenesis and prone to epileptiform discharges. Our findings demonstrate an essential role for NPTXs in controlling network dynamics highlighting potential therapeutic targets for disorders with inhibition/excitation imbalances such as schizophrenia. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Neuron
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    ABSTRACT: Rheb, a ubiquitous small GTPase, is well known to bind and activate mTOR, which augments protein synthesis. Inhibition of protein synthesis is also physiologically regulated. Thus, with cell stress, the unfolded protein response system leads to phosphorylation of the initiation factor eIF2α and arrest of protein synthesis. We now demonstrate a major role for Rheb in inhibiting protein synthesis by enhancing the phosphorylation of eIF2α by protein kinase-like ER kinase (PERK). Interplay between the stimulatory and inhibitory roles of Rheb may enable cells to modulate protein synthesis in response to varying environmental stresses. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · Cell Reports
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    ABSTRACT: In Parkinson's disease, long-term dopamine replacement therapy is complicated by the appearance of l-DOPA-induced dyskinesia (LID). One major hypothesis is that LID results from an aberrant transcriptional program in striatal neurons induced by l-DOPA and triggered by the activation of ERK. To identify these genes, we performed transcriptome analyses in the striatum in 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned mice. A time course analysis (0-6 h after treatment with l-DOPA) identified an acute signature of 709 genes, among which genes involved in protein phosphatase activity were overrepresented, suggesting a negative feedback on ERK activation by l-DOPA. l-DOPA-dependent deregulation of 28 genes was blocked by pretreatment with SL327, an inhibitor of ERK activation, and 26 genes were found differentially expressed between highly and weakly dyskinetic animals after treatment with l-DOPA. The intersection list identified five genes: FosB, Th, Nptx2, Nedd4l, and Ccrn4l. Nptx2 encodes neuronal pentraxin II (or neuronal activity-regulated pentraxin, Narp), which is involved in the clustering of glutamate receptors. We confirmed increased Nptx2 expression after l-DOPA and its blockade by SL327 using quantitative RT-PCR in independent experiments. Using an escalating l-DOPA dose protocol, LID severity was decreased in Narp knock-out mice compared with their wild-type littermates or after overexpression of a dominant-negative form of Narp in the striatum. In conclusion, we have identified a molecular signature induced by l-DOPA in the dopamine-denervated striatum that is dependent on ERK and associated with LID. Here, we demonstrate the implication of one of these genes, Nptx2, in the development of LID. Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/350096-16$15.00/0.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
  • Shuxi Liu · Yue Wang · Paul F. Worley · Mark P. Mattson · Nicholas Gaiano
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    ABSTRACT: Activation of the Notch pathway in neurons is essential for learning and memory in various species from invertebrates to mammals. However, it remains unclear how Notch signaling regulates neuronal plasticity, and whether the transcriptional regulator and canonical pathway effector RBP-J plays a role. Here we report that conditional disruption of RBP-J in the postnatal hippocampus leads to defects in long-term potentiation (LTP), long-term depression (LTD), and in learning and memory. Using gene expression profiling and chromatin immunoprecipitation, we identified two GABA transporters, GAT2 and BGT1, as putative Notch/RBP-J pathway targets, which may function downstream of RBP-J to limit the accumulation of GABA in the Schaffer collateral pathway. Our results reveal an essential role for canonical Notch/RBP-J signaling in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and suggest that role, at least in part, is mediated by the regulation of GABAergic signaling. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Hippocampus
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    ABSTRACT: Rheb1 is an immediate early gene that functions to activate mammalian target of rapamycin (mTor) selectively in complex 1 (mTORC1). We have demonstrated previously that Rheb1 is essential for myelination in the CNS using a Nestin-Cre driver line that deletes Rheb1 in all neural cell lineages, and recent studies using oligodendrocyte-specific CNP-Cre have suggested a preferential role for mTORC1 is myelination in the spinal cord. Here, we examine the role of Rheb1/mTORC1 in mouse oligodendrocyte lineage using separate Cre drivers for oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) including Olig1-Cre and Olig2-Cre as well as differentiated and mature oligodendrocytes including CNP-Cre and Tmem10-Cre. Deletion of Rheb1 in OPCs impairs their differentiation to mature oligodendrocytes. This is accompanied by reduced OPC cell-cycle exit suggesting a requirement for Rheb1 in OPC differentiation. The effect of Rheb1 on OPC differentiation is mediated by mTor since Olig1-Cre deletion of mTor phenocopies Olig1-Cre Rheb1 deletion. Deletion of Rheb1 in mature oligodendrocytes, in contrast, does not disrupt developmental myelination or myelin maintenance. Loss of Rheb1 in OPCs or neural progenitors does not affect astrocyte formation in gray and white matter, as indicated by the pan-astrocyte marker Aldh1L1. We conclude that OPC-intrinsic mTORC1 activity mediated by Rheb1 is critical for differentiation of OPCs to mature oligodendrocytes, but that mature oligodendrocytes do not require Rheb1 to make myelin or maintain it in the adult brain. These studies reveal mechanisms that may be relevant for both developmental myelination and impaired remyelination in myelin disease. Copyright © 2014 the authors 0270-6474/14/3415764-15$15.00/0.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: Production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) increases with neuronal activity that accompanies synaptic development and function. Transcription-related factors and metabolic enzymes that are expressed in all tissues have been described to counteract neuronal ROS to prevent oxidative damage. Here, we describe the antioxidant gene LanCL1 that is prominently enriched in brain neurons. Its expression is developmentally regulated and induced by neuronal activity, neurotrophic factors implicated in neuronal plasticity and survival, and oxidative stress. Genetic deletion of LanCL1 causes enhanced accumulation of ROS in brain, as well as development-related lipid, protein, and DNA damage; mitochondrial dysfunction; and apoptotic neurodegeneration. LanCL1 transgene protects neurons from ROS. LanCL1 protein purified from eukaryotic cells catalyzes the formation of thioether products similar to glutathione S-transferase. These studies reveal a neuron-specific glutathione defense mechanism that is essential for neuronal function and survival.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Developmental Cell
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    ABSTRACT: Neuronal activity regulated pentraxin (Narp) is a secreted protein implicated in regulating synaptic plasticity via its association with the extracellular surface of AMPA receptors. We found robust Narp immunostaining in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) that is largely restricted to small diameter neurons, and in the superficial layers of the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. In double staining studies of DRG, we found that Narp is expressed in both IB4- and CGRP-positive neurons, markers of distinct populations of nociceptive neurons. Although a panel of standard pain behavioral assays were unaffected by Narp deletion, we found that Narp knockout mice displayed an exaggerated microglia/macrophage response in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord to sciatic nerve transection 3days after surgery compared with wild type mice. As other members of the pentraxin family have been implicated in regulating innate immunity, these findings suggest that Narp, and perhaps other neuronal pentraxins, also regulate inflammation in the nervous system.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2014 · Journal of Neuroimmunology
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    Paul Worley · Marshall Shuler
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    ABSTRACT: Editor’s Note: The word “memory” is derived from the ancient Greek myth of Mnemosyne, the mother of the Muses, who was “said to know everything, past, present, and future.” Memory is essential to our existence, and one of neuroscience’s primary missions is to understand how the brain processes memory and to improve treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, drug addiction, and the many other afflictions associated with disrupted memory. Our article traces scientists’ progress in understanding memory over the last 15 years.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Cerebrum: the Dana forum on brain science

  • No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Current Neuropharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: The Shank3 gene encodes a scaffolding protein that anchors multiple elements of the postsynaptic density at the synapse. Previous attempts to delete the Shank3 gene have not resulted in a complete loss of the predominant naturally occurring Shank3 isoforms. We have now characterized a homozygous Shank3 mutation in mice that deletes exon 21, including the Homer binding domain. In the homozygous state, deletion of exon 21 results in loss of the major naturally occurring Shank3 protein bands detected by C-terminal and N-terminal antibodies, allowing us to more definitively examine the role of Shank3 in synaptic function and behavior. This loss of Shank3 leads to an increased localization of mGluR5 to both synaptosome and postsynaptic density-enriched fractions in the hippocampus. These mice exhibit a decrease in NMDA/AMPA excitatory postsynaptic current ratio in area CA1 of the hippocampus, reduced long-term potentiation in area CA1, and deficits in hippocampus-dependent spatial learning and memory. In addition, these mice also exhibit motor-coordination deficits, hypersensitivity to heat, novelty avoidance, altered locomotor response to novelty, and minimal social abnormalities. These data suggest that Shank3 isoforms are required for normal synaptic transmission/plasticity in the hippocampus, as well as hippocampus-dependent spatial learning and memory.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2013 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: Down syndrome (DS) is among the most frequent genetic causes of intellectual disability, and ameliorating this deficit is a major goal in support of people with trisomy 21. The Ts65Dn mouse recapitulates some major brain structural and behavioral phenotypes of DS, including reduced size and cellularity of the cerebellum and learning deficits associated with the hippocampus. We show that a single treatment of newborn mice with the Sonic hedgehog pathway agonist SAG 1.1 (SAG) results in normal cerebellar morphology in adults. Further, SAG treatment at birth rescued phenotypes associated with hippocampal deficits that occur in untreated adult Ts65Dn mice. This treatment resulted in behavioral improvements and normalized performance in the Morris water maze task for learning and memory. SAG treatment also produced physiological effects and partially rescued both N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-dependent synaptic plasticity and NMDA/AMPA receptor ratio, physiological measures associated with memory. These outcomes confirm an important role for the hedgehog pathway in cerebellar development and raise the possibility for its direct influence in hippocampal function. The positive results from this approach suggest a possible direction for therapeutic intervention to improve cognitive function for this population.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2013 · Science translational medicine

Publication Stats

32k Citations
2,377.23 Total Impact Points


  • 1986-2015
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • • Department of Neuroscience
      • • Department of Neurology
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 1990-2012
    • Johns Hopkins Medicine
      • Department of Neuroscience
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2011
    • University Medical Center Hamburg - Eppendorf
      Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2009
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      North Carolina, United States
  • 2008
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2007
    • Molecular and Cellular Biology Program
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 1988-2006
    • University of Maryland, Baltimore
      • Department of Pharmacology
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2005
    • University of Milan
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy
  • 1998
    • University of Virginia
      • Department of Neuroscience
      Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Ashburn, Virginia, United States