Products of the visual cycle are detected in mice lacking retinol binding protein 4, the only known vitamin A carrier in plasmaEfficient delivery of vitamin A to the retinal pigment epithelium is vital to the production of the light-sensitive visual chromophore 11-cis-retinal. Nevertheless, retinol binding protein 4 (RBP4) is the only known carrier of vitamin A in plasma. Here, we present new findings that further characterize the visual cycle in the presence of Rbp4 deficiency. In the face of impaired delivery of retinol in Rbp4−/− mice, we determined that 11-cis-retinaldehyde reached levels that were ∼60% of WT at 4 months of age and all-trans-retinyl ester was 18% of normal yet photoreceptor cell loss was apparent by 8 months of age.
rAAV-CRISPRa therapy corrects Rai1 haploinsufficiency and rescues selective disease features in Smith-Magenis syndrome miceHaploinsufficiency in retinoic acid induced 1 (RAI1) causes Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS), a severe neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by neurocognitive deficits and obesity. Currently, curative treatments for SMS do not exist. Here, we take a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats activation (CRISPRa) approach to increase expression of the remaining intact Rai1 allele. Building upon our previous work that found the paraventricular nucleus of hypothalamus plays a central role in SMS pathogenesis, we performed paraventricular nucleus of hypothalamus–specific rAAV-CRISPRa therapy by increasing endogenous Rai1 expression in SMS (Rai1±) mice.
A penetratin-derived peptide reduces the membrane permeabilization and cell toxicity of α-synuclein oligomersParkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative movement disorder associated with the intracellular aggregation of α-synuclein (α-syn). Cytotoxicity is mainly associated with the oligomeric species (αSOs) formed at early stages in α-syn aggregation. Consequently, there is an intense focus on the discovery of novel inhibitors such as peptides to inhibit oligomer formation and toxicity. Here, using peptide arrays, we identified nine peptides with high specificity and affinity for αSOs. Of these, peptides p194, p235, and p249 diverted α-syn aggregation from fibrils to amorphous aggregates with reduced β-structures and increased random coil content.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor stimulates the retrograde pathway for axonal autophagyAutophagy is a lysosomal degradation pathway important for neuronal development, function, and survival. How autophagy in axons is regulated by neurotrophins to impact neuronal viability and function is poorly understood. Here, we use live-cell imaging in primary neurons to investigate the regulation of axonal autophagy by the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and elucidate whether autophagosomes carry BDNF-mediated signaling information. We find that BDNF induces autophagic flux in primary neurons by stimulating the retrograde pathway for autophagy in axons.
Amyloid beta and its naturally occurring N-terminal variants are potent activators of human and mouse formyl peptide receptor 1Formyl peptide receptors (FPRs) may contribute to inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease through interactions with neuropathological Amyloid beta (Aβ) peptides. Previous studies reported activation of FPR2 by Aβ1-42, but further investigation of other FPRs and Aβ variants is needed. This study provides a comprehensive overview of the interactions of mouse and human FPRs with different physiologically relevant Aβ-peptides using transiently transfected cells in combination with calcium imaging. We observed that, in addition to hFPR2, all other hFPRs also responded to Aβ1-42, Aβ1-40, and the naturally occurring variants Aβ11-40 and Aβ17-40.
Grk7 but not Grk1 undergoes cAMP-dependent phosphorylation in zebrafish cone photoreceptors and mediates cone photoresponse recovery to elevated cAMPIn the vertebrate retina, phosphorylation of photoactivated visual pigments in rods and cones by G protein–coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) is essential for sustained visual function. Previous in vitro analysis demonstrated that GRK1 and GRK7 are phosphorylated by PKA, resulting in a reduced capacity to phosphorylate rhodopsin. In vivo observations revealed that GRK phosphorylation occurs in the dark and is cAMP dependent. In many vertebrates, including humans and zebrafish, GRK1 is expressed in both rods and cones while GRK7 is expressed only in cones.
Control of cell surface expression of GABAA receptors by a conserved region at the end of the N-terminal extracellular domain of receptor subunitsType A γ-aminobutyric acid receptors (GABAARs) represent a family of pentameric GABA-gated Cl-/HCO3- ion channels which mediate inhibitory transmission in the central nervous system. Cell surface expression of GABAARs, a prerequisite for their function, is dependent on the appropriate assembly of the receptor subunits and their transient interactions with molecular chaperones within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and Golgi apparatus. Here, we describe a highly conserved amino acid sequence within the extracellular N-terminal domain of the receptor subunits adjoining the first transmembrane domain as a region important for GABAAR processing within the ER.
The CX3CL1 intracellular domain exhibits neuroprotection via insulin receptor/insulin-like growth factor receptor signalingCX3CL1, also known as fractalkine, is best known for its signaling activity through interactions with its cognate receptor CX3CR1. However, its intrinsic function that is independent of interaction with CX3CR1 remains to be fully understood. We demonstrate that the intracellular domain of CX3CL1 (CX3CL1-ICD), generated upon sequential cleavages by α-/β-secretase and γ-secretase, initiates a back signaling activity, which mediates direct signal transmission to gene expression in the nucleus. To study this, we fused a synthetic peptide derived from CX3CL1-ICD, named Tet34, with a 13-amino acid tetanus sequence at the N terminus to facilitate translocation into neuronal cells.
Artificial pore blocker acts specifically on voltage-gated potassium channel isoform KV1.6Among voltage-gated potassium channel (KV) isoforms, KV1.6 is one of the most widespread in the nervous system. However, there are little data concerning its physiological significance, in part due to the scarcity of specific ligands. The known high-affinity ligands of KV1.6 lack selectivity, and conversely, its selective ligands show low affinity. Here, we present a designer peptide with both high affinity and selectivity to KV1.6. Previously, we have demonstrated that KV isoform-selective peptides can be constructed based on the simplistic α-hairpinin scaffold, and we obtained a number of artificial Tk-hefu peptides showing selective blockage of KV1.3 in the submicromolar range.
Ubiquitin ligase Triad1 promotes neurite outgrowth by inhibiting MDM2-mediated ubiquitination of the neuroprotective factor pleiotrophinSpinal cord injury (SCI) is the most severe result of spine injury, but no effective therapy exists to treat SCI. We have previously shown that the E3 ubiquitin ligase Two RING fingers and DRIL 1 (Triad1) promotes neurite outgrowth after SCI. However, the mechanism by which Triad1 affects neuron growth and the potential involvement of its ubiquitination activity is unclear. Neuroprotective cytokine pleiotrophin (PTN) can promote microglia proliferation and neurotrophic factor secretion to achieve neuroprotection.
AI protein structure prediction-based modeling and mutagenesis of a protostome receptor and peptide ligands reveal key residues for their interactionThe protostome leucokinin (LK) signaling system, including LK peptides and their G protein-coupled receptors, has been characterized in several species. Despite the progress, molecular mechanisms governing LK peptide–receptor interactions remain to be elucidated. Previously, we identified a precursor protein for Aplysia leucokinin-like peptides (ALKs) that contains the greatest number of amidated peptides among LK precursors in all species identified so far. Here, we identified the first ALK receptor from Aplysia, ALKR.
Central residues in prion protein PrPC are crucial for its conversion into the pathogenic isoformConformational conversion of the cellular prion protein, PrPC, into the amyloidogenic isoform, PrPSc, is a key pathogenic event in prion diseases. However, the conversion mechanism remains to be elucidated. Here, we generated Tg(PrPΔ91-106)-8545/Prnp0/0 mice, which overexpress mouse PrP lacking residues 91-106. We showed that none of the mice became sick after intracerebral inoculation with RML, 22L, and FK-1 prion strains nor accumulated PrPScΔ91-106 in their brains except for a small amount of PrPScΔ91-106 detected in one 22L-inoculated mouse.
Extracellular loop 2 of G protein–coupled olfactory receptors is critical for odorant recognitionG protein–coupled olfactory receptors (ORs) enable us to detect innumerous odorants. They are also ectopically expressed in nonolfactory tissues and emerging as attractive drug targets. ORs can be promiscuous or highly specific, which is part of a larger mechanism for odor discrimination. Here, we demonstrate that the OR extracellular loop 2 (ECL2) plays critical roles in OR promiscuity and specificity. Using site-directed mutagenesis and molecular modeling, we constructed 3D OR models in which ECL2 forms a lid over the orthosteric pocket.
CaMKII T286 phosphorylation has distinct essential functions in three forms of long-term plasticityThe Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) mediates long-term potentiation or depression (LTP or LTD) after distinct stimuli of hippocampal NMDA-type glutamate receptors (NMDARs). NMDAR-dependent LTD prevails in juvenile mice, but a mechanistically different form of LTD can be readily induced in adults by instead stimulating metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). However, the role that CaMKII plays in the mGluR-dependent form of LTD is not clear. Here we show that mGluR-dependent LTD also requires CaMKII and its T286 autophosphorylation (pT286), which induces Ca2+-independent autonomous kinase activity.
Mild membrane depolarization in neurons induces immediate early gene transcription and acutely subdues responses to a successive stimulusImmediate early genes (IEGs) are transcribed in response to neuronal activity from sensory stimulation during multiple adaptive processes in the brain. The transcriptional profile of IEGs is indicative of the duration of neuronal activity, but its sensitivity to the strength of depolarization remains unknown. Also unknown is whether activity history of graded potential changes influence future neuronal activity. In this work with dissociated rat cortical neurons, we found that mild depolarization—mediated by elevated extracellular potassium (K+)—induces a wide array of rapid IEGs and transiently depresses transcriptional and signaling responses to a successive stimulus.
Crystal structure of Ankyrin-G in complex with a fragment of Neurofascin reveals binding mechanisms required for integrity of the axon initial segmentThe axon initial segment (AIS) has characteristically dense clustering of voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav), cell adhesion molecule Neurofascin 186 (Nfasc), and neuronal scaffold protein Ankyrin-G (AnkG) in neurons, which facilitates generation of an action potential and maintenance of axonal polarity. However, the mechanisms underlying AIS assembly, maintenance, and plasticity remain poorly understood. Here, we report the high-resolution crystal structure of the AnkG ankyrin repeat (ANK repeat) domain in complex with its binding site in the Nfasc cytoplasmic tail that shows, in conjunction with binding affinity assays with serial truncation variants, the molecular basis of AnkG–Nfasc binding.
A small molecule toll-like receptor antagonist rescues α-synuclein fibril pathologyThe propagation and accumulation of pathological α-synuclein protein is thought to underlie the clinical symptoms of the neurodegenerative movement disorder Parkinson’s disease (PD). Consequently, there is significant interest in identifying the mechanisms that contribute to α-synuclein pathology, as these may inform therapeutic targets for the treatment of PD. One protein that appears to contribute to α-synuclein pathology is the innate immune pathogen recognition receptor, toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2).
Unraveling the toxic effects mediated by the neurodegenerative disease–associated S375G mutation of TDP-43 and its S375E phosphomimetic variantTAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is a nucleic acid–binding protein found in the nucleus that accumulates in the cytoplasm under pathological conditions, leading to proteinopathies, such as frontotemporal dementia and ALS. An emerging area of TDP-43 research is represented by the study of its post-translational modifications, the way they are connected to disease-associated mutations, and what this means for pathological processes. Recently, we described a novel mutation in TDP-43 in an early onset ALS case that was affecting a potential phosphorylation site in position 375 (S375G).
Profiling 26,000 Aplysia californica neurons by single cell mass spectrometry reveals neuronal populations with distinct neuropeptide profilesNeuropeptides are a chemically diverse class of cell-to-cell signaling molecules that are widely expressed throughout the central nervous system, often in a cell-specific manner. While cell-to-cell differences in neuropeptides is expected, it is often unclear how exactly neuropeptide expression varies among neurons. Here we created a microscopy-guided, high-throughput single cell matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry approach to investigate the neuropeptide heterogeneity of individual neurons in the central nervous system of the neurobiological model Aplysia californica, the California sea hare.
Neurotoxic and cytotoxic peptides underlie the painful stings of the tree nettle Urtica feroxThe stinging hairs of plants from the family Urticaceae inject compounds that inflict pain to deter herbivores. The sting of the New Zealand tree nettle (Urtica ferox) is among the most painful of these and can cause systemic symptoms that can even be life-threatening; however, the molecular species effecting this response have not been elucidated. Here we reveal that two classes of peptide toxin are responsible for the symptoms of U. ferox stings: Δ-Uf1a is a cytotoxic thionin that causes pain via disruption of cell membranes, while β/δ-Uf2a defines a new class of neurotoxin that causes pain and systemic symptoms via modulation of voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels.
Distinct basolateral amygdala excitatory inputs mediate the somatosensory and aversive-affective components of painPain is a multidimensional perception that includes unpleasant somatosensory and affective experiences; however, the underlying neural circuits that mediate different components of pain remain elusive. Although hyperactivity of basolateral amygdala glutamatergic (BLAGlu) neurons is required for the somatosensory and emotional processing of pain, the precise excitatory inputs to BLAGlu neurons and their roles in mediating different aspects of pain are unclear. Here, we identified two discrete glutamatergic neuronal circuits in male mice: a projection from the insular cortex glutamatergic (ICGlu) to BLAGlu neurons, which modulates both the somatosensory and affective components of pain, and a projection from the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus (MDGlu) to BLAGlu neurons, which modulates only the aversive-affective component of pain.
Transcriptional profiling reveals roles of intercellular Fgf9 signaling in astrocyte maturation and synaptic refinement during brainstem developmentNeural tissue maturation is a coordinated process under tight transcriptional control. We previously analyzed the kinetics of gene expression in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) in the brainstem during the critical postnatal phase of its development. While this work revealed timed execution of transcriptional programs, it was blind to the specific cells where gene expression changes occurred. Here, we utilized single-cell RNA-Seq to determine transcriptional profiles of each major MNTB cell type.
Seed-competent tau monomer initiates pathology in a tauopathy mouse modelTau aggregation into ordered assemblies causes neurodegenerative tauopathies. We previously reported that tau monomer exists in either inert (Mi) or seed-competent (Ms) conformational ensembles and that Ms encodes strains, that is, unique, self-replicating, biologically active assemblies. It is unknown if disease begins with Ms formation followed by fibril assembly or if Ms derives from fibrils and is therefore an epiphenomenon. Here, we studied a tauopathy mouse model (PS19) that expresses full-length mutant human (1N4R) tau (P301S).
Comparative analysis defines a broader FMRFamide-gated sodium channel family and determinants of neuropeptide sensitivityFMRFamide (Phe-Met-Arg-Phe-amide, FMRFa) and similar neuropeptides are important physiological modulators in most invertebrates, but the molecular basis of FMRFa activity at its receptors is unknown. We therefore sought to identify the molecular determinants of FMRFa potency against one of its native targets, the excitatory FMRFa-gated sodium channel (FaNaC) from gastropod mollusks. Using molecular phylogenetics and electrophysiological measurement of neuropeptide activity, we identified a broad FaNaC family that includes mollusk and annelid channels gated by FMRFa, FVRIamides, and/or Wamides (or myoinhibitory peptides).
Discovery of a small-molecule inhibitor of the TRIP8b–HCN interaction with efficacy in neuronsMajor depressive disorder is a critical public health problem with a lifetime prevalence of nearly 17% in the United States. One potential therapeutic target is the interaction between hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide–gated (HCN) channels and an auxiliary subunit of the channel named tetratricopeptide repeat–containing Rab8b-interacting protein (TRIP8b). HCN channels regulate neuronal excitability in the mammalian hippocampus, and recent work has established that antagonizing HCN function rescues cognitive impairment caused by chronic stress.