- A53T-alpha-synuclein overexpression impairs dopamine signaling and striatal synaptic plasticity in old mice (2010)
- BACKGROUND: Parkinson's disease (PD), the second most frequent neurodegenerative disorder at old age, can be caused by elevated expression or the A53T missense mutation of the presynaptic protein alpha-synuclein (SNCA). PD is characterized pathologically by the preferential vulnerability of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal projection neurons. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here, we used two mouse lines overexpressing human A53T-SNCA and studied striatal dysfunction in the absence of neurodegeneration to understand early disease mechanisms. To characterize the progression, we employed young adult as well as old mice. Analysis of striatal neurotransmitter content demonstrated that dopamine (DA) levels correlated directly with the level of expression of SNCA, an observation also made in SNCA-deficient (knockout, KO) mice. However, the elevated DA levels in the striatum of old A53T-SNCA overexpressing mice may not be transmitted appropriately, in view of three observations. First, a transcriptional downregulation of the extraneural DA degradation enzyme catechol-ortho-methytransferase (COMT) was found. Second, an upregulation of DA receptors was detected by immunoblots and autoradiography. Third, extensive transcriptome studies via microarrays and quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qPCR) of altered transcript levels of the DA-inducible genes Atf2, Cb1, Freq, Homer1 and Pde7b indicated a progressive and genotype-dependent reduction in the postsynaptic DA response. As a functional consequence, long term depression (LTD) was absent in corticostriatal slices from old transgenic mice. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Taken together, the dysfunctional neurotransmission and impaired synaptic plasticity seen in the A53T-SNCA overexpressing mice reflect early changes within the basal ganglia prior to frank neurodegeneration. As a model of preclinical stages of PD, such insights may help to develop neuroprotective therapeutic approaches.
- ATXN2-CAG42 sequesters PABPC1 into insolubility and induces FBXW8 in cerebellum of old ataxic knock-in mice (2012)
- Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 2 (SCA2) is caused by expansion of a polyglutamine encoding triplet repeat in the human ATXN2 gene beyond (CAG)31. This is thought to mediate toxic gain-of-function by protein aggregation and to affect RNA processing, resulting in degenerative processes affecting preferentially cerebellar neurons. As a faithful animal model, we generated a knock-in mouse replacing the single CAG of murine Atxn2 with CAG42, a frequent patient genotype. This expansion size was inherited stably. The mice showed phenotypes with reduced weight and later motor incoordination. Although brain Atxn2 mRNA became elevated, soluble ATXN2 protein levels diminished over time, which might explain partial loss-of-function effects. Deficits in soluble ATXN2 protein correlated with the appearance of insoluble ATXN2, a progressive feature in cerebellum possibly reflecting toxic gains-of-function. Since in vitro ATXN2 overexpression was known to reduce levels of its protein interactor PABPC1, we studied expansion effects on PABPC1. In cortex, PABPC1 transcript and soluble and insoluble protein levels were increased. In the more vulnerable cerebellum, the progressive insolubility of PABPC1 was accompanied by decreased soluble protein levels, with PABPC1 mRNA showing no compensatory increase. The sequestration of PABPC1 into insolubility by ATXN2 function gains was validated in human cell culture. To understand consequences on mRNA processing, transcriptome profiles at medium and old age in three different tissues were studied and demonstrated a selective induction of Fbxw8 in the old cerebellum. Fbxw8 is encoded next to the Atxn2 locus and was shown in vitro to decrease the level of expanded insoluble ATXN2 protein. In conclusion, our data support the concept that expanded ATXN2 undergoes progressive insolubility and affects PABPC1 by a toxic gain-of-function mechanism with tissuespecific effects, which may be partially alleviated by the induction of FBXW8.
- Modulation of the glyoxalase system in the aging model Podospora anserina: effects on growth and lifespan (2010)
- The eukaryotic glyoxalase system consists of two enzymatic components, glyoxalase I (lactoylglutathionelyase) and glyoxalase II (hydroxyacylglutathione hydrolase). These enzymes are dedicated to the removal of toxic alpha-oxoaldehydes like methylglyoxal (MG). MG is formed as a by-product of glycolysis and MG toxicity results from its damaging capability leading to modifications of proteins, lipids and nucleic acids. An efficient removal of MG appears to be essential to ensure cellular functionality and viability. Here we study the effects of the genetic modulation of genes encoding the components of the glyoxalase system in the filamentous ascomycete and aging model Podospora anserina. Overexpression of PaGlo1 leads to a lifespan reduction on glucose rich medium, probably due to depletion of reduced glutathione. Deletion of PaGlo1 leads to hypersensitivity against MG added to the growth medium. A beneficial effect on lifespan is observed when both PaGlo1 and PaGlo2 are overexpressed and the corresponding strains are grown on media containing increased glucose concentrations. Notably, the double mutant has a ‘healthy’ phenotype without physiological impairments. Moreover, PaGlo1/PaGlo2_OEx strains are not long-lived on media containing standard glucose concentrations suggesting a tight correlation between the efficiency and capacity to remove MG within the cell, the level of available glucose and lifespan. Overall, our results identify the up-regulation of both components of the glyoxalase system as an effective intervention to increase lifespan in P. anserina. Key words: Podospora anserina, aging, lifespan, glycation, glucose, methylglyoxal, advanced glycation end products
- Parkinson phenotype in aged PINK1-deficient mice is accompanied by progressive mitochondrial dysfunction in absence of neurodegeneration (2009)
- Background Parkinson's disease (PD) is an adult-onset movement disorder of largely unknown etiology. We have previously shown that loss-of-function mutations of the mitochondrial protein kinase PINK1 (PTEN induced putative kinase 1) cause the recessive PARK6 variant of PD. Methodology/Principal Findings Now we generated a PINK1 deficient mouse and observed several novel phenotypes: A progressive reduction of weight and of locomotor activity selectively for spontaneous movements occurred at old age. As in PD, abnormal dopamine levels in the aged nigrostriatal projection accompanied the reduced movements. Possibly in line with the PARK6 syndrome but in contrast to sporadic PD, a reduced lifespan, dysfunction of brainstem and sympathetic nerves, visible aggregates of alpha-synuclein within Lewy bodies or nigrostriatal neurodegeneration were not present in aged PINK1-deficient mice. However, we demonstrate PINK1 mutant mice to exhibit a progressive reduction in mitochondrial preprotein import correlating with defects of core mitochondrial functions like ATP-generation and respiration. In contrast to the strong effect of PINK1 on mitochondrial dynamics in Drosophila melanogaster and in spite of reduced expression of fission factor Mtp18, we show reduced fission and increased aggregation of mitochondria only under stress in PINK1-deficient mouse neurons. Conclusion Thus, aging Pink1 -/- mice show increasing mitochondrial dysfunction resulting in impaired neural activity similar to PD, in absence of overt neuronal death.
- Primary skin fibroblasts as a model of Parkinson's disease (2012)
- Parkinson's disease is the second most frequent neurodegenerative disorder. While most cases occur sporadic mutations in a growing number of genes including Parkin (PARK2) and PINK1 (PARK6) have been associated with the disease. Different animal models and cell models like patient skin fibroblasts and recombinant cell lines can be used as model systems for Parkinson's disease. Skin fibroblasts present a system with defined mutations and the cumulative cellular damage of the patients. PINK1 and Parkin genes show relevant expression levels in human fibroblasts and since both genes participate in stress response pathways, we believe fibroblasts advantageous in order to assess, e.g. the effect of stressors. Furthermore, since a bioenergetic deficit underlies early stage Parkinson's disease, while atrophy underlies later stages, the use of primary cells seems preferable over the use of tumor cell lines. The new option to use fibroblast-derived induced pluripotent stem cells redifferentiated into dopaminergic neurons is an additional benefit. However, the use of fibroblast has also some drawbacks. We have investigated PARK6 fibroblasts and they mirror closely the respiratory alterations, the expression profiles, the mitochondrial dynamics pathology and the vulnerability to proteasomal stress that has been documented in other model systems. Fibroblasts from patients with PARK2, PARK6, idiopathic Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 demonstrated a distinct and unique mRNA expression pattern of key genes in neurodegeneration. Thus, primary skin fibroblasts are a useful Parkinson's disease model, able to serve as a complement to animal mutants, transformed cell lines and patient tissues.
- Restriction of trophic factors and nutrients induces PARKIN expression (2011)
- Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most frequent neurodegenerative movement disorder and manifests at old age. While many details of its pathogenesis remain to be elucidated, in particular the protein and mitochondrial quality control during stress responses have been implicated in monogenic PD variants. Especially the mitochondrial kinase PINK1 and the ubiquitin ligase PARKIN are known to cooperate in autophagy after mitochondrial damage. As autophagy is also induced by loss of trophic signaling and PINK1 gene expression is modulated after deprivation of cytokines, we analyzed to what extent trophic signals and starvation stress regulate PINK1 and PARKIN expression. Time course experiments with serum deprivation and nutrient starvation of human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells and primary mouse neurons demonstrated phasic induction of PINK1 transcript up to twofold and PARKIN transcript levels up to sixfold. The corresponding threefold starvation induction of PARKIN protein was limited by its translocation to lysosomes. Analysis of primary mouse cells from PINK1-knockout mice indicated that PARKIN induction and lysosomal translocation occurred independent of PINK1. Suppression of the PI3K-Akt-mTOR signaling by pharmacological agents modulated PARKIN expression accordingly. In conclusion, this expression survey demonstrates that PARKIN and PINK1 are coregulated during starvation and suggest a role of both PD genes in response to trophic signals and starvation stress.
- Striatal dopamine transmission is subtly modified in human A53Tα-synuclein overexpressing mice (2012)
- Mutations in, or elevated dosage of, SNCA, the gene for α-synuclein (α-syn), cause familial Parkinson's disease (PD). Mouse lines overexpressing the mutant human A53Tα-syn may represent a model of early PD. They display progressive motor deficits, abnormal cellular accumulation of α-syn, and deficits in dopamine-dependent corticostriatal plasticity, which, in the absence of overt nigrostriatal degeneration, suggest there are age-related deficits in striatal dopamine (DA) signalling. In addition A53Tα-syn overexpression in cultured rodent neurons has been reported to inhibit transmitter release. Therefore here we have characterized for the first time DA release in the striatum of mice overexpressing human A53Tα-syn, and explored whether A53Tα-syn overexpression causes deficits in the release of DA. We used fast-scan cyclic voltammetry to detect DA release at carbon-fibre microelectrodes in acute striatal slices from two different lines of A53Tα-syn-overexpressing mice, at up to 24 months. In A53Tα-syn overexpressors, mean DA release evoked by a single stimulus pulse was not different from wild-types, in either dorsal striatum or nucleus accumbens. However the frequency responsiveness of DA release was slightly modified in A53Tα-syn overexpressors, and in particular showed slight deficiency when the confounding effects of striatal ACh acting at presynaptic nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) were antagonized. The re-release of DA was unmodified after single-pulse stimuli, but after prolonged stimulation trains, A53Tα-syn overexpressors showed enhanced recovery of DA release at old age, in keeping with elevated striatal DA content. In summary, A53Tα-syn overexpression in mice causes subtle changes in the regulation of DA release in the striatum. While modest, these modifications may indicate or contribute to striatal dysfunction.