[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Flaviviruses, such as the dengue virus and the West Nile virus (WNV), are arthropod-borne viruses that represent a global health problem. The flavivirus lifecycle is intimately connected to cellular lipids. Among the lipids co-opted by flaviviruses, we have focused on sphingomyelin, an important component of cellular membranes particularly enriched in the nervous system. After infection with the neurotropic WNV, mice deficient in acid sphingomyelinase (ASM), which accumulate high levels of sphingomyelin in their tissues, displayed exacerbated infection. In addition, WNV multiplication was enhanced in cells from human patients with Niemann Pick type A, a disease caused by a deficiency of ASM activity resulting in sphingomyelin accumulation. Furthermore, the addition of sphingomyelin to cultured cells also increased WNV infection whereas treatment with pharmacological inhibitors of sphingomyelin synthesis reduced WNV infection. Confocal microscopy analyses confirmed the association of SM with viral replication sites within infected cells. Our results unveil that sphingomyelin metabolism regulates flavivirus infection in vivo and propose sphingomyelin as a suitable target for antiviral design against WNV.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · The Journal of Lipid Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Lafora disease (LD, OMIM 254780) is a rare fatal neurodegenerative disorder that usually occurs during childhood with generalized tonic-clonic seizures, myoclonus, absences, drop attacks, or visual seizures. Unfortunately, at present, available treatments are only palliatives and no curative drugs are available yet. The hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of insoluble polyglucosan inclusions, called Lafora bodies (LBs), within the neurons but also in heart, muscle, and liver cells. Mouse models lacking functional EPM2A or EPM2B genes (the two major loci related to the disease) recapitulate the Lafora disease phenotype: they accumulate polyglucosan inclusions, show signs of neurodegeneration, and have a dysregulation of protein clearance and endoplasmic reticulum stress response. In this study, we have subjected a mouse model of LD (Epm2b-/-) to different pharmacological interventions aimed to alleviate protein clearance and endoplasmic reticulum stress. We have used two chemical chaperones, trehalose and 4-phenylbutyric acid. In addition, we have used metformin, an activator of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), as it has a recognized neuroprotective role in other neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we show that treatment with 4-phenylbutyric acid or metformin decreases the accumulation of Lafora bodies and polyubiquitin protein aggregates in the brain of treated animals. 4-Phenylbutyric acid and metformin also diminish neurodegeneration (measured in terms of neuronal loss and reactive gliosis) and ameliorate neuropsychological tests of Epm2b-/- mice. As these compounds have good safety records and are already approved for clinical uses on different neurological pathologies, we think that the translation of our results to the clinical practice could be straightforward.
No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Molecular Neurobiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Lafora disease is a rare form of inherited progressive myoclonus epilepsy caused by mutations in the EPM2A gene encoding laforin, or in the EPM2B gene, which encodes malin. It is characterized by the presence of polyglucosan inclusion bodies (Lafora bodies) in brain and other tissues. Genetically engineered mice lacking expression of either the laforin (Epm2a(-/-) ) or malin (Epm2b(-/-) ) genes display a number of neurological and behavioral abnormalities that resemble those found in patients suffering from Lafora disease; of these, both Epm2a(-/-) and Epm2b(-/-) mice have shown altered motor activity, impaired motor coordination, episodic memory deficits, and different degrees of spontaneous epileptic activity. In this study, we analyze the sensitivity of Epm2a(-/-) and Epm2b(-/-) mice to the convulsant drug pentylenetetrazol (PTZ), an antagonist of the γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptor, commonly used to induce epileptic tonic-clonic seizures in laboratory animals. PTZ-induced epileptic activity, including myoclonic jerks and tonic-clonic seizures, was analyzed in 2 age groups of mice comprising representative samples of young adult and aged mice, after administration of PTZ at sub-convulsive and convulsive doses. Epm2a(-/-) and Epm2b(-/-) mice showed a lower convulsive threshold after PTZ injections at sub-convulsive doses. A lower convulsive threshold and shorter latencies to develop epileptic seizures were observed after PTZ injections at convulsive doses. Different patterns of generalized seizures and of discharges were observed in Epm2a(-/-) and Epm2b(-/-) mice. Epm2a(-/-) and Epm2b(-/-) mice present an increased sensitivity to the convulsant agent PTZ that may reflect different degrees of increased GABAA receptor-mediated hyperexcitability.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Frontiers in Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Epileptic seizures are more common in patients with Alzheimer disease than in the general elderly population. Abnormal forms of hyperphosphorylated tau accumulate in Alzheimer disease and other tauopathies. Aggregates of tau are also found in patients with epilepsy and in experimental models of epilepsy. We report here the analysis of epileptic activity and neuropathological correlates of a transgenic line over-expressing human mutant tau, a model of frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17). The FTDP-17 model displays spontaneous epileptic activity and seizures with spike-wave complexes in the EEG, and a higher sensitivity to the GABAA receptor antagonist pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) when compared to age-matched controls, showing a notably increased seizure length and a shorter latency to develop severe seizures. FTDP-17 human tau mutants also display lower convulsive thresholds and higher lethality after PTZ injections. Astrocytosis and activated microglia are prominent in the hippocampus and other brain regions of young FTDP-17 mice where the human mutant tau transgene is expressed, before the appearance of hyperphosphorylated tau aggregates in these structures. FTDP-17 human mutant tau over-expression produces epilepsy and increased GABAA receptor-mediated hyperexcitability in the absence of Aβ pathology. Although aggregates of hyperphosphorylated tau have been observed in patients with epilepsy and in different chemically and electrically generated models of epilepsy, the FTDP-17 tau mutant analyzed here is the first model of genetically modified tau that presents with epilepsy. This model may represent a valuable tool to assay novel treatments in order to reduce tau pathology, a potential factor which may be involved in the development of epileptic seizures in dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Neurobiology of Disease
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Lafora disease is a progressive myoclonus epilepsy caused by mutations in the EPM2A gene encoding laforin or in the EPM2B gene encoding malin. It is characterized by the presence of polyglucosan intracellular inclusion bodies (Lafora bodies) in brain and other tissues. Targeted disruption of Epm2a or Epm2b genes in mice produced widespread neuronal degeneration and accumulation of Lafora bodies in neuronal and nonneuronal tissues. Here we analyzed the neurologic alterations produced by disruption of the laforin gene in Epm2a mice and compared them to those in malin-deficient mice. Both Epm2a and Epm2b mice showed altered motor activity, impaired motor coordination, abnormal hind limb clasping, and episodic memory deficits. Epm2a mice also had tonic-clonic seizures, whereas both Epm2a and Epm2b mice had spontaneous single spikes, spike-wave, polyspikes, and polyspike-wave complexes with correlated myoclonic jerks. Neurologic alterations observed in the mutants were comparable and correlated with the accumulation of abundant Lafora bodies in the cerebral cortex, the hippocampus, the basal ganglia, the cerebellum, and the brainstem, suggesting that these inclusions could cause cognitive and behavioral deterioration. Thus, both Epm2a and Epm2b mice exhibit many pathologic aspects seen in patients with Lafora disease and may be valuable for the study of this disorder.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Mutations in the PARK2 gene encoding parkin cause autosomal recessive juvenile parkinsonism, but have also been found in patients diagnosed with certain tauopathies. Conversely, mutations in the MAPT gene encoding tau are present in some types of parkinsonism. In order to investigate the possible relationship between these two proteins, we generated a double mutant mouse that is deficient in PARK2 and that over-expresses the hTauVLW transgene, a mutant form of the tau protein present in FTDP-17. Independent deletion of PARK2 or over-expression of the hTauVLW transgene produces mild phenotypic alterations, while a substantial increase in parkin expression is observed in hTauVLW transgenic mice. However, double mutant mice present memory and exploratory deficits, and accumulation of PHF-1 and AT8 hyperphosphorylated tau epitopes in neurons. These phenomena are coupled with reactive astrocytosis, DNA fragmentation, and variable cerebral atrophy. Here, we show that cortical and hippocampal neurons of double mutant mice develop argyrophilic Gallyas-Braak aggregates of phosphorylated tau from 3 months of age. Their number decreases in old animals. Moreover, numerous phosphorylated tau aggregates were identified with the conformation-dependent Alz-50 antibody and the S-Thioflavin staining. Ventral motor nuclei of the spinal cord also present Alz-50, AT8, and PHF1 hyperphosphorylated tau aggregates when parkin is deleted in mice over-expressing the hTauVLW transgene, begining at early ages. Thus, the combination of PARK2 gene deletion with hTauVLW over-expression in mice produces abnormal hyperphosphorylated tau aggregates, similar to those observed in the brain of patients diagnosed with certain tauopathies. In the light of these changes, these mice may help to understand the molecular processes responsible for these diseases, and they may aid the development of new therapeutic strategies to treat neurodegenerative diseases related to tau and parkin proteins.
No preview · Article · Feb 2009 · Acta Neuropathologica
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: While mutations in the Park-2 gene are the most frequent cause of autosomal-recessive juvenile parkinsonism (AR-JP), they are also present in several forms of tauopathies. Conversely, in some forms of parkinsonism, mutations in the tau gene have also been observed. Deletion of the Park-2 gene and over-expression of mutant tau independently produce mild brain alterations in mice. However, the presence of both mutations simultaneously causes a tau neuropathology, involving reactive astrocytosis, neuron loss in the cortex and hippocampus, and lesions in nigrostriatal and motor neurons. Furthermore, mutant tau over-expression in mice produces important memory impairment. When "parkin" function was abolished in young tau transgenic mice, the memory alterations were exaggerated. Moreover, additional exploratory and motor deficits were observed in older mice, causing the memory alterations to be underestimated. Thus, while memory deficits are more severe in young mice they were somehow attenuated by exploratory impairments in ageing mutants. This double mutant animal will serve as a useful experimental tool to investigate the abnormal processing of hyperphosphorylated tau and its relationship to the development of the cognitive deficits associated with certain neurodegenerative diseases.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2008 · Behavioural Brain Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Mutations, haplotypes, and polymorphisms of tau and Park-2 genes constitute risk factors for developing tauopathies. In order to analyze the possible relationship between parkin and tau we generated a double-mutant mouse deficient for Park-2 expression and overexpressing a mutant tau protein (hTauVLW). Mice develop normally, although the median survival rate is considerably reduced with respect to wild type (45%). Aggregates of phosphorylated tau in neurons and reactive gliosis are quite abundant in cortex and hippocampus of these mice. Moreover, while in young transgenic mice the hTauVLW immunostained transgene product is observed in both cell bodies and dendrites, the hTauVLW mutant protein is only detected in the neuronal cell bodies when Park-2 gene is additionally deleted. Moreover, DNA fragmentation was detected by the TUNEL method, and cerebral atrophy is also present in these regions. The levels of phosphorylated tau and Hsp70 are increased in the double-mutant mice, while CHIP expression in hippocampus is lower when the Park-2 gene is deleted. Thus, the combination of Park-2 gene deletion with hTauVLW transgene overexpression in mice produces serious neuropathological effects, which reflect the existence of some relationship between both proteins.
No preview · Article · Apr 2008 · Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a clinicopathological syndrome related to tau deposits and in linkage disequilibrium with tau polymorphisms. Some rare familial PSP cases have been related to tau gene mutations.
To present the clinical, pathological, and molecular data of one family with early-onset autosomal dominant PSP.
We performed clinical examinations, quantitative neurological tests, positron emission tomographic scans with fluorodopa F 18 and raclopride C 11, analysis of tau mutations, neuropathological examinations, and protein analyses on brain specimens.
Three family members had PSP confirmed by pathological features in the proband. A novel mutation of tau, G303V, was found in the proband and other family members. tau Isoforms with 4 microtubule-binding repeats were overexpressed in the proband brain.
The G303V mutation of tau is associated with autosomal dominant PSP. Expression of 4 microtubule-binding repeat tau isoforms is increased in the proband.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Autosomal recessive-juvenile parkinsonism (AR-JP) is one of the most common forms of familial Parkinson's disease (PD) and is related to mutations in the Park-2 gene, encoding for a protein ligase of ubiquitin, parkin. Different mutations located along the parkin gene have been observed in different AR-JP affected families, possibly interfering with the normal function of parkin and the proteasome system. Two cases of patients with AR-JP have been recently described presenting different homo- and heterozygous parkin mutations and limited tau pathology. We report here the case of a patient with clinical and pathological findings compatible with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), carrier of a single, heterozygous mutation of the parkin gene, and homozygous for the H1/H1 haplotype in the tau gene. Abnormal tau hyperphosphorylation has been observed in our patient brain samples, suggesting that a partial deficit of parkin, a protein with ubiquitin-ligase function, may trigger tau pathology in individuals with molecular genetic risk factors.
No preview · Article · Nov 2002 · Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD