[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Down syndrome (DS) results from the triplication of approximately 300 human chromosome 21 (Hsa21) genes an affects almost all body organs. Children with DS have defects in visual processing that may have a negative impact in their daily life and cognitive development. However, there is little known about the genes and pathogenesis underlying these defects. Here, we show morphometric in vivo data indicating that the neural retina of DS individuals is thicker than in the normal population. A similar thickening specifically affecting the inner part of the retina was also observed in a trisomic model of DS, the Ts65Dn mouse. Increased retinal size and cellularity in this model correlated with abnormal retinal function and results from an impaired Caspase-9 mediated apoptosis during development. Moreover, we show that mice bearing only one additional copy of Dyrk1a have the same retinal phenotype as Ts65Dn mice and normalization of Dyrk1a gene copy number in Ts65Dn mice completely rescues both, morphological and functional phenotypes. Thus, triplication of Dyrk1a is necessary and sufficient to cause the retinal phenotype described in the trisomic model. Our data demonstrate for the first time the implication of DYRK1A overexpression in a developmental alteration of the central nervous system associated to DS, thereby providing insights into the aetiology of neurosensorial dysfunction in a complex disease.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Human Molecular Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Copy number variation in a small region of chromosome 21 containing DYRK1A produces morphological and cognitive alterations in human. In mouse models, haploinsufficiency results in microcephaly, and a human DYRK1A gain-of-function model (three alleles) exhibits increased brain volume. To investigate these developmental aspects, we used a murine BAC clone containing the entire gene to construct an overexpression model driven by endogenous regulatory sequences. We compared this new model to two other mouse models with three copies of Dyrk1a, YACtgDyrk1a and Ts65Dn, as well as the loss-of-function model with one copy (Dyrk1a(+/-)). Growth, viability, brain weight, and brain volume depended strongly upon gene copy number. Brain region-specific variations observed in gain-of-function models mirror their counterparts in the loss-of-function model. Some variations, such as increased volume of the superior colliculus and ventricles, were observed in both the BAC transgenic and Ts65Dn mice. Using unbiased stereology we found that, in the cortex, neuron density is inversely related to Dyrk1a copy number but, in thalamic nuclei, neuron density is directly related to copy number. In addition, six genes involved either in cell division (Ccnd1 and pAkt) or in neuronal machinery (Gap43, Map2, Syp, Snap25) were regulated by Dyrk1a throughout development, from birth to adult. These results imply that Dyrk1a expression alters different cellular processes during brain development. Dyrk1a, then, has two roles in the development process: shaping the brain and controlling the structure of neuronal components.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Neurobiology of Disease
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neural stem cells (NSCs) are slowly dividing astrocytes that are intimately associated with capillary endothelial cells in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the brain. Functionally, members of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family can stimulate neurogenesis as well as angiogenesis, but it has been unclear whether they act directly via VEGF receptors (VEGFRs) expressed by neural cells, or indirectly via the release of growth factors from angiogenic capillaries. Here, we show that VEGFR-3, a receptor required for lymphangiogenesis, is expressed by NSCs and is directly required for neurogenesis. Vegfr3:YFP reporter mice show VEGFR-3 expression in multipotent NSCs, which are capable of self-renewal and are activated by the VEGFR-3 ligand VEGF-C in vitro. Overexpression of VEGF-C stimulates VEGFR-3-expressing NSCs and neurogenesis in the SVZ without affecting angiogenesis. Conversely, conditional deletion of Vegfr3 in neural cells, inducible deletion in subventricular astrocytes, and blocking of VEGFR-3 signaling with antibodies reduce SVZ neurogenesis. Therefore, VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 signaling acts directly on NSCs and regulates adult neurogenesis, opening potential approaches for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2011 · Genes & development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C) was first identified as a regulator of the vascular system, where it is required for the development of lymphatic vessels. Here we report actions of VEGF-C in the central nervous system. We detected the expression of the VEGF-C receptor VEGFR-3 in neural progenitor cells in Xenopus laevis and mouse embryos. In Xenopus tadpole VEGF-C knockdowns and in mice lacking Vegfc, the proliferation of neural progenitors expressing VEGFR-3 was severely reduced, in the absence of intracerebral blood vessel defects. In addition, Vegfc-deficient mouse embryos showed a selective loss of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) in the embryonic optic nerve. In vitro, VEGF-C stimulated the proliferation of OPCs expressing VEGFR-3 and nestin-positive ventricular neural cells. VEGF-C thus has a new, evolutionary conserved function as a growth factor selectively required by neural progenitor cells expressing its receptor VEGFR-3.