The mechanisms of human mutant superoxide dismutase-1 (mSOD1) toxicity to motor neurons (MNs) are unresolved. We show that MNs in G93A-mSOD1 transgenic mice undergo slow degeneration lacking similarity to apoptosis structurally and biochemically. It is characterized by somal and mitochondrial swelling and formation of DNA single-strand breaks prior to double-strand breaks occurring in nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. p53 and p73 are activated in degenerating MNs, but without nuclear import. The MN death is independent of activation of caspases-1, -3, and -8 or apoptosis-inducing factor within MNs, with a blockade of apoptosis possibly mediated by Aven up-regulation. MN swelling is associated with compromised Na,K-ATPase activity and aggregation. mSOD1 mouse MNs accumulate mitochondria from the axon terminals and generate higher levels of superoxide, nitric oxide, and peroxynitrite than MNs in control mice. Nitrated and aggregated cytochrome c oxidase subunit-I and alpha-synuclein as well as nitrated SOD2 accumulate in mSOD1 mouse spinal cord. Mitochondria in mSOD1 mouse MNs accumulate NADPH diaphorase and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS)-like immunoreactivity, and iNOS gene deletion extends significantly the life span of G93A-mSOD1 mice. Prior to MN loss, spinal interneurons degenerate. These results identify novel mechanisms for mitochondriopathy and MN degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) mice involving blockade of apoptosis, accumulation of MN mitochondria with enhanced toxic potential from distal terminals, NOS localization in MN mitochondria and peroxynitrite damage, and early degeneration of alpha-synuclein(+) interneurons. The data support roles for oxidative stress, protein nitration and aggregation, and excitotoxicity as participants in the process of MN degeneration caused by mSOD1.
The distribution of the P2X family of ATP receptors was analyzed in a rat model for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) expressing mutated human superoxide dismutase (mSOD1(G93A)). We showed that strong P2X(4) immunoreactivity was selectively associated with degenerating motoneurons (MNs) in spinal cord ventral horn. Degenerating P2X(4)-positive MNs did not display apoptotic features such as chromatin condensation, positive TUNEL reaction, or active caspase 3 immunostaining. In contrast, these neurons showed other signs of abnormality, such as loss of the neuronal marker NeuN and recruitment of microglial cells with neuronophagic activity. Similar changes were observed in MNs from the cerebral cortex and brainstem in mSOD1(G93A) in both rat and mice. In addition, P2X(4) immunostaining demonstrated the existence of neuronal degeneration in the locus coeruleus, reticular formation, and Purkinje cells of the cerebellar cortex. It is suggested that abnormal trafficking and proteolytic processing of the P2X(4) receptor protein may underlie these changes.
Naturally occurring cell death is essential to the development of the mammalian nervous system. Although the importance of developmental cell death has been appreciated for decades, there is no comprehensive account of cell death across brain areas in the mouse. Moreover, several regional sex differences in cell death have been described for the ventral forebrain and hypothalamus, but it is not known how widespread the phenomenon is. We used immunohistochemical detection of activated caspase-3 to identify dying cells in the brains of male and female mice from postnatal day (P) 1 to P11. Cell death density, total number of dying cells, and regional volume were determined in 16 regions of the hypothalamus and ventral forebrain (the anterior hypothalamus, arcuate nucleus, anteroventral periventricular nucleus, medial preoptic nucleus, paraventricular nucleus, suprachiasmatic nucleus, and ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus; the basolateral, central, and medial amygdala; the lateral and principal nuclei of the bed nuclei of the stria terminalis; the caudate-putamen; the globus pallidus; the lateral septum; and the islands of Calleja). All regions showed a significant effect of age on cell death. The timing of peak cell death varied between P1 to P7, and the average rate of cell death varied tenfold among regions. Several significant sex differences in cell death and/or regional volume were detected. These data address large gaps in the developmental literature and suggest interesting region-specific differences in the prevalence and timing of cell death in the hypothalamus and ventral forebrain.
Chemical stimuli are sensed through the olfactory and vomeronasal epithelia, and the sensory cells of both systems undergo neuronal turnover during adulthood. In the vomeronasal epithelium, stem cells adjacent to the basal lamina divide and migrate to replace two classes of sensory neurons: apical neurons that express G(i2alpha)-linked V1R vomeronasal receptors and project to the anterior accessory olfactory bulb, and basal neurons that express G(oalpha)-linked V2R receptors and project to the posterior accessory olfactory bulb. Most of the dividing cells are present in the margins of the epithelium and only migrate locally. Previous studies have suggested that these marginal cells may participate in growth, sensory cell replacement or become apoptotic before maturation; however, the exact fate of these cells have remained unclear. In this work we investigated the fate of these marginal cells by analyzing markers of neurogenesis (bromodeoxyuridine incorporation), apoptosis (caspase-3), and neuronal maturation (olfactory marker protein and Neurotrace Nissl stain). Our data reveal a pool of dividing cells in the epithelial margins that predominantly give rise to mature neurons and only rarely undergo apoptosis. Newly generated cells are several times more numerous than apoptotic cells. These marginal neuroblasts could therefore constitute a net neural addition zone during adulthood.
Clathrin-coated vesicles are known to play diverse and pivotal roles in cells. The proper formation of clathrin-coated vesicles is dependent on, and highly regulated by, a large number of clathrin assembly proteins. These assembly proteins likely determine the functional specificity of clathrin-coated vesicles, and together they control a multitude of intracellular trafficking pathways, including those involved in embryonic development. In this study, we focus on two closely related clathrin assembly proteins, AP180 and CALM (clathrin assembly lymphoid myeloid leukemia protein), in the developing embryonic rat brain. We find that AP180 begins to be expressed at embryonic day 14 (E14), but only in postmitotic cells that have acquired a neuronal fate. CALM, on the other hand, is expressed as early as E12, by both neural stem cells and postmitotic neurons. In vitro loss-of-function studies using RNA interference (RNAi) indicate that AP180 and CALM are dispensable for some aspects of embryonic neurogenesis but are required for the growth of postmitotic neurons. These results identify the developmental stage of AP180 and CALM expression and suggest that each protein has distinct functions in neural development.
The murine olfactory system consists of main and accessory systems that perform distinct and overlapping functions. The main olfactory epithelium (MOE) is primarily involved in the detection of volatile odorants, while neurons in the vomeronasal organ (VNO), part of the accessory olfactory system, are important for pheromone detection. During development, the MOE and VNO both originate from the olfactory pit; however, the mechanisms regulating development of these anatomically distinct organs from a common olfactory primordium are unknown. Here we report that two closely related zinc-finger transcription factors, FEZF1 and FEZF2, regulate the identity of MOE sensory neurons and are essential for the survival of VNO neurons respectively. Fezf1 is predominantly expressed in the MOE while Fezf2 expression is restricted to the VNO. In Fezf1-deficient mice, olfactory neurons fail to mature and also express markers of functional VNO neurons. In Fezf2-deficient mice, VNO neurons degenerate prior to birth. These results identify Fezf1 and Fezf2 as important regulators of olfactory system development and sensory neuron identity.
Adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus is assuming an increasingly important role in supporting hippocampal-dependent learning and the modulation of mood and anxiety. Moreover, injury to the developing postnatal dentate gyrus has profound effects on neurogenesis and hippocampal learning throughout life. Organotypic hippocampal slice cultures represent an attractive model for studying neurogenesis both in the early postnatal and adult hippocampus, as they retain much of their anatomical and functional circuitry in vitro. Ongoing neurogenesis has been recently demonstrated in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures. However, cell proliferation, one of the critical components of neurogenesis, has yet to be characterized in this culture system. We examined single-pulse S-phase bromo-deoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling in the dentate granule layer with respect to the septotemporal position of origin of the slice culture, the medium the cultures were grown in, and the time the cultures were maintained in vitro up to 14 days, when they are believed to have matured to a near adult state. Using single 10-microm sections through a culture as our reference volume, we report significant effects of septotemporal position on the number of granule layer cells and the number of cells in S-phase, as estimated by short-survival (2 hours) BrdU studies. We report a declining rate of BrdU incorporation, evidence of significant structural changes within the granule cell layer, and differences in cell death between culture media over the first 14 days in vitro. We report caution with the use of BrdU cell density and changes in cell number to indirectly estimate proliferation.
Inherited retinal degeneration affecting both rod and cone photoreceptors constitutes one of the leading causes of blindness in the developed world. Such degeneration is at present untreatable, and the underlying neurodegenerative mechanisms are unknown, even though certain genetic causes have been established. The rd1 mouse is one of the best characterized animal models for rod photoreceptor degeneration, whereas the cpfl1 mouse is a recently discovered model for cone cell death. Because both animal models are affected by functionally similar mutations in the rod and cone phosphodiesterase 6 genes, respectively, we asked whether the mechanisms of photoreceptor degeneration in these two mouse lines share common pathways. In the present study, we followed the temporal progression of photoreceptor degeneration in the cpfl1 retina, correlated it with specific metabolic markers, and compared it with the wild-type and the rd1 situation. Similar to corresponding rd1 observations, cpfl1 cone photoreceptor cell death was associated with an accumulation of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), activity of calpains, and phosphorylation of vasodilator-stimulated protein (VASP). Cone degeneration progressed rapidly, with a peak in cell death around postnatal day 24. Furthermore, cpfl1 cone photoreceptor migration during early postnatal development was delayed significantly compared with the corresponding wild-type retina. The finding that rod and cone photoreceptor degeneration was associated with the same metabolic markers suggests that in both cell types similar degenerative mechanisms are active. This raises the possibility that equivalent neuroprotective strategies may be used to prevent both rod and cone photoreceptor degeneration.
More than any other neuron, olfactory sensory neurons are exposed to environmental insults. Surprisingly, their only documented response to damaging stress is apoptosis and subsequent replacement by new neurons. However, they expressed unfolded protein response genes, a transcriptionally regulated defense mechanism activated by many types of insults. The unfolded protein response transcripts Xbp1, spliced Xbp1, Chop (Ddit3), and BiP (Hspa5) were decreased when external access of stressors was reduced by blocking a nostril (naris occlusion). These transcripts and Nrf2 (Nfe2l2) were increased by systemic application of tunicamycin or the selective olfactotoxic chemical methimazole. Methimazole's effects overcame naris occlusion, and the unfolded protein response was independent of odor-evoked neuronal activity. Chemical stress is therefore a major and chronic activator of the unfolded protein response in olfactory sensory neurons. Stress-dependent repression of the antiapoptotic gene Bcl2 was absent, however, suggesting a mechanism for disconnecting the UPR from apoptosis and tolerating a chronic unfolded protein response. Environmental stressors also affect both the sustentacular cells that support the neurons and the respiratory epithelia, because naris occlusion decreased expression of the xenobiotic chemical transformation enzyme Cyp2a5 in sustentacular cells, and both naris occlusion and methimazole altered the abundance of the antibacterial lectin Reg3g in respiratory epithelia.
Neuroaxonal dystrophy in brainstem, spinal cord tracts, and spinal nerves accompanied by cerebellar hypoplasia was observed in a colony of laboratory dogs. Fetal akinesia was documented by ultrasonographic examination. At birth, affected puppies exhibited stereotypical positioning of limbs, scoliosis, arthrogryposis, pulmonary hypoplasia, and respiratory failure. Regional hypoplasia in the central nervous system was apparent grossly, most strikingly as underdeveloped cerebellum and spinal cord. Histopathologic abnormalities included swollen axons and spheroids in brainstem and spinal cord tracts; reduced cerebellar foliation, patchy loss of Purkinje cells, multifocal thinning of the external granular cell layer, and loss of neurons in the deep cerebellar nuclei; spheroids and loss of myelinated axons in spinal roots and peripheral nerves; increased myocyte apoptosis in skeletal muscle; and fibrofatty connective tissue proliferation around joints. Breeding studies demonstrated that the canine disorder is a fully penetrant, simple autosomal recessive trait. The disorder demonstrated a type and distribution of lesions homologous to that of human infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy (INAD), most commonly caused by mutations of phospholipase A2 group VI gene (PLA2G6), but alleles of informative markers flanking the canine PLA2G6 locus did not associate with the canine disorder. Thus, fetal-onset neuroaxonal dystrophy in dogs, a species with well-developed genome mapping resources, provides a unique opportunity for additional disease gene discovery and understanding of this pathology.
In an effort to expand human islets and enhance allogeneic islet transplant for the treatment of type 1 diabetes, identifying signaling pathways that stimulate human β-cell proliferation is paramount. TGF-β superfamily members, in particular activin-A, are likely involved in islet development and may contribute to β-cell proliferation. Nodal, another TGF-β member, is present in both embryonic and adult rodent islets. Nodal, along with its coreceptor, Cripto, are pro-proliferative factors in certain cell types. Although Nodal stimulates apoptosis of rat insulinoma cells (INS-1), Nodal and Cripto signaling have not been studied in the context of human islets. The current study investigated the effects of Nodal and Cripto on human β-cell proliferation, differentiation, and viability. In the human pancreas and isolated human islets, we observed Nodal mRNA and protein expression, with protein expression observed in β and α-cells. Cripto expression was absent from human islets. Furthermore, in cultured human islets, exogenous Nodal stimulated modest β-cell proliferation and inhibited α-cell proliferation with no effect on cellular viability, apoptosis, or differentiation. Nodal stimulated the phosphorylation of mothers against decapentaplegic (SMAD)-2, with no effect on AKT or MAPK signaling, suggesting phosphorylated SMAD signaling was involved in β-cell proliferation. Cripto had no effect on human islet cell proliferation, differentiation, or viability. In conclusion, Nodal stimulates human β-cell proliferation while maintaining cellular viability. Nodal signaling warrants further exploration to better understand and enhance human β-cell proliferative capacity.
As we previously showed, we have synthesized a new family of 17β-estradiol-platinum(II) hybrids. Earlier studies revealed the VP-128 hybrid to show high efficiency compared with cisplatin toward hormone-dependent breast cancer cells. In the present research, we have studied the antitumor activity of VP-128 in vitro and in vivo against ovarian cancer. In nude mice with ovarian xenografts, VP-128 displayed selective activity toward hormone-dependent tumors and showed higher efficiency than cisplatin to inhibit tumor growth. Similarly, in vitro, transient transfection of estrogen receptor (ER)-α in ERα-negative A2780 cells increased their sensitivity to VP-128-induced apoptosis, confirming the selectivity of VP-128 toward hormone-dependent tumor cells. In agreement, Western blot analysis revealed that VP-128 induced higher caspase-9, caspase-3, and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage compared with cisplatin. The activation of caspase-independent apoptosis was also observed in ERα-negative A2780 cells, in which VP-128 rapidly induced the translocation of apoptosis-inducing factor to the nucleus. Conversely, subcellular localization of apoptosis-inducing factor was not modified in ERα-positive Ovcar-3 cells. We also discovered that VP-128 induces autophagy in ovarian cancer cells because of the formation of acidic vesicular organelles (AVOs) and increase of Light Chain 3B-II protein responsible for the formation of autophagosomes; pathways related to autophagy (AKT and mammalian target of rapamycin) were also down-regulated, supporting this mechanism. Finally, the inhibition of autophagy using chloroquine increased VP-128 efficiency, indicating a possible combination therapy. Altogether these results highlight the beneficial value of VP-128 for the treatment of hormone-dependent ovarian cancers and provide preliminary proof of concept for the efficient targeting of ERα- by 17β-estradiol-Pt(II)-linked chemotherapeutic hybrids in these tumors.
Rats under a restricted feeding schedule develop food anticipatory activity 2-3h prior food access, characterized by increased arousal, foraging and exploratory behavior. This anticipatory behavior is not observed when rodents are allowed ad libitum food access and reappears for several cycles when food-entrained animals are fasted. Previously we reported that food entrainment also produces increased expression of c-Fos protein in the dorsomedial nucleus (DMH), in the perifornical area (PeF) and in the lateral hypothalamic area (LH) anticipating food intake. These hypothalamic structures contain abundant orexin (ORX) producing neurons and promote arousal, reward and metabolic balance, thus we explored the participation of the orexinergic system in food-entrainment by evaluating in food entrained rats (RF) the expression of c-Fos in ORX cells in anticipation, during and after food access, and in rats exhibiting persistent activation in fasting after interruption of the food-entrainment protocol (RF-Fast). Data were compared with ad libitum controls and with a 22-h fasted group. RF rats exhibited a food-entrained rhythm of c-Fos in ORX cells in the DMH, LH and PeF with highest levels at the time of meal delivery and after food ingestion. In RF-Fast rats the food-entrained pattern of ORX cells persisted in the PeF and LH and partially in the DMH, which in addition exhibited an earlier activation. We conclude that ORX cells in PeF and LH exhibit self sustained oscillations driven by food-entrainment, whereas the DMH may mediate arousal mechanisms that elicit anticipatory activity.
Phthalates are plasticizers with widespread industrial, domestic, and medical applications. Epidemiological data indicating increased incidence of testicular dysgenesis in boys exposed to phthalates in utero are reinforced by studies demonstrating that phthalates impair fetal rodent testis development. Because humans are exposed to phthalates continuously from gestation through adulthood, it is imperative to understand what threat phthalates pose at other life stages. To determine the impact during prepuberty, we assessed the consequences of oral administration of 1 to 500 mg di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP)/kg/d in corn oil to wild-type (C57BL/6J) male mice from 4 to 14 days of age. Dose-dependent effects on testis growth correlated with reduced Sertoli cell proliferation. Histological and immunohistochemical analyses identified delayed spermatogenesis and impaired Sertoli cell maturation after exposure to 10 to 500 mg DBP/kg/d. Interference with the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis was indicated in mice fed 500 mg DBP/kg/d, which had elevated circulating inhibin but no change in serum FSH. Increased immunohistochemical staining for inhibin-α was apparent at doses of 10 to 500 mg DBP/kg/d. Serum testosterone and testicular androgen activity were lower in the 500 mg DBP/kg/d group; however, reduced anogenital distance in all DBP-treated mice suggested impaired androgen action at earlier time points. Long-term effects were evident, with smaller anogenital distance and indications of disrupted spermatogenesis in adult mice exposed prepubertally to doses from 1 mg DBP/kg/d. These data demonstrate the acute sensitivity of the prepubertal mouse testis to DBP at doses 50- to 500-fold lower than those used in rat and identify the upregulation of inhibin as a potential mechanism of DBP action.
Astrocytes respond to multiple forms of central nervous system (CNS) injury by entering a reactive state characterized by morphological changes and a specific pattern of altered protein expression. Termed astrogliosis, this response has been shown to strongly influence the injury response and functional recovery of CNS tissues. This pattern of CNS inflammation and injury associated with astrogliosis has recently been found to occur in the energy homeostasis centers of the hypothalamus during diet-induced obesity (DIO) in rodent models, but the characterization of the astrocyte response remains incomplete. Here, we report that astrocytes in the mediobasal hypothalamus respond robustly and rapidly to purified high-fat diet (HFD) feeding by cleaving caspase-3, a protease whose cleavage is often associated with apoptosis. Although obesity develops in HFD-fed rats by day 14, caspase-3 cleavage occurs by day 3, prior to the development of obesity, suggesting the possibility that it could play a causal role in the hypothalamic neuropathology and fat gain observed in DIO. Caspase-3 cleavage is not associated with an increase in the rate of apoptosis, as determined by TUNEL staining, suggesting it plays a non-apoptotic role analogous to the response to excitotoxic neuron injury. Our results indicate that astrocytes in the mediobasal hypothalamus respond rapidly and robustly to HFD feeding, activating caspase-3 in the absence of apoptosis, a process that has the potential to influence the course of DIO.
IGF-I is normally produced from hepatocytes and other sources, stimulates protein synthesis, cell survival, and proliferation through receptor-mediated activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and MAPK, and targets specific molecules within the pancreatic islet cells. The current study was designed to identify novel targets that may mediate its pro-islet actions. Whole-genome cDNA microarray analysis in IGF-I-overexpressing islets identified 82 genes specifically up- or down-regulated. Prominent among them was CCN5/WISP2 whose expression was increased 3- and 2-fold at the mRNA and protein levels. Dual-labeled immunofluorescence revealed that CCN5 expression was low in the β-cells of wild-type islets but was significantly induced in response to IGF-I overexpression. In vitro treatment of mouse islets with IGF-I increased both CCN5 mRNA and protein levels significantly. To define the role of CCN5 in islet cell biology, we stably overexpressed its cDNA in insulinoma MIN6 cells and detected a 2-fold increase in the proliferation of MIN6-CCN5 compared with that in control cells, which correlated with significant elevations in the levels of cyclin D1 and the phosphorylation of Akt and Erk2. Moreover, MIN6-CCN5 cells were found to be resistant to streptozotocin-induced cell death. Using confocal microscopy and subcellular fractionation, we found that overexpressed CCN5 exhibited cytoplasmic accumulation upon stimulation by high glucose. Our results indicate that CCN5, which is minimally expressed in islet β-cells, is strongly and directly induced by IGF-I. CCN5 overexpression stimulates the proliferation of insulinoma cells, activates Akt kinase, and inhibits streptozotocin-induced apoptosis, suggesting that increased CCN5 expression contributes to IGF-I-stimulated islet cell growth and/or survival.
Hypothalamic inflammation and gliosis are proposed to participate in the pathogenesis of high-fat diet-induced obesity. Because other factors and nutrients also induce weight gain and adiposity, we analyzed the inflammatory and glial responses to a sucrose (S)-enriched diet. Neonatal overnutrition (NON) exacerbates weight gain in response to metabolic challenges; thus, we compared the inflammatory response of male Wistar rats with NON (4 pups/litter) and controls (12 pups/litter) to increased S intake. At weaning rats received water or a 33% sucrose solution and normal chow ad libitum for 2 months. Sucrose increased serum IL-1β and -6 and hypothalamic IL-6 mRNA levels in NON and TNFα mRNA levels in control and NON rats, whereas NON alone had no effect. The astrocyte marker glial fibrillary acidic protein was increased by NON but decreased by S. This was associated with hypothalamic nuclei specific changes in glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive cell number and morphology. Sucrose increased the number of microglia and phosphorylation of inhibitor of -κB and c-Jun N-terminal kinase in control but not NON rats, with no effect on microglia activation markers. Proteins highly expressed in astrocytes (glutamate, glucose, and lactate transporters) were increased by NON but not S, with no increase in vimentin expression in astrocytes, further suggesting that S-induced adiposity is not associated with hypothalamic astrogliosis. Hence, activation of hypothalamic inflammatory processes and gliosis depend not only on weight gain but also on the diet inducing this weight gain and the early nutritional status. These diverse inflammatory processes could indicate a differential disposition to obesity-induced pathologies.
Bisphosphonates are effective for preventing and treating skeletal disorders associated with hyperresorption. Their safety and efficacy has been studied in adults where the growth plate is fused and there is no longitudinal bone growth and little appositional growth. Although bisphosphonate use in the pediatric population was pioneered for compassionate use in the treatment of osteogenesis imperfecta, they are being increasingly used for the treatment and prevention of bone loss in children at risk of hyperresorptive bone loss. However, the effect of these agents on the growing skeleton in disorders other than osteogenesis imperfecta has not been systematically compared. Studies were, therefore, undertaken to examine the consequences of bisphosphonate administration on the growth plate and skeletal microarchitecture during a period of rapid growth. C57Bl6/J male mice were treated from 18 to 38 days of age with vehicle, alendronate, pamidronate, zoledronate, or clodronate at doses selected to replicate those used in humans. Treatment with alendronate, pamidronate, and zoledronate, but not clodronate, led to a decrease in the number of chondrocytes per column in the hypertrophic chondrocyte layer. This was not associated with altered hypertrophic chondrocyte apoptosis or vascular invasion at the growth plate. The effects of pamidronate on trabecular microarchitecture were less beneficial than those of alendronate and zoledronate. Pamidronate did not increase cortical thickness or cortical area/total area relative to control mice. These studies suggest that bisphosphonate administration does not adversely affect skeletal growth. Long-term investigations are required to determine whether the differences observed among the agents examined impact biomechanical integrity of the growing skeleton.
Glycogen synthase kinase 3 β (GSK-3β) is an essential negative regulator or "brake" on many anabolic-signaling pathways including Wnt and insulin. Global deletion of GSK-3β results in perinatal lethality and various skeletal defects. The goal of our research was to determine GSK-3β cell-autonomous effects and postnatal roles in the skeleton. We used the 3.6-kb Col1a1 promoter to inactivate the Gsk3b gene (Col1a1-Gsk3b knockout) in skeletal cells. Mutant mice exhibit decreased body fat and postnatal bone growth, as well as delayed development of several skeletal elements. Surprisingly, the mutant mice display decreased circulating glucose and insulin levels despite normal expression of GSK-3β in metabolic tissues. We showed that these effects are due to an increase in global insulin sensitivity. Most of the male mutant mice died after weaning. Prior to death, blood glucose changed from low to high, suggesting a possible switch from insulin sensitivity to resistance. These male mice die with extremely large bladders that are preceded by damage to the urogenital tract, defects that are also seen type 2 diabetes. Our data suggest that skeletal-specific deletion of GSK-3β affects global metabolism and sensitizes male mice to developing type 2 diabetes.
The role that estrogens play in the aging lung is poorly understood. Remodeling of the aging lung with thickening of the alveolar walls and reduction in the number of peripheral airways is well recognized. The present study was designed to address whether estrogen deficiency would affect age-associated changes in the lungs of female C57BL/6J mice. Lungs isolated from old mice (24 months old, estrogen-deficient) demonstrated decreased lung volume and decreased alveolar surface area. There was no difference in alveolar number in the lungs of old and young mice (6 months old, estrogen-replete). Estrogen replacement restored lung volume, alveolar surface area, and alveolar wall thickness to that of a young mouse. Estrogen receptor-α (ERα) protein expression increased without a change in ERβ protein expression in the lung tissue isolated from old mice. In the lungs of old mice, the number of apoptotic cells was increased as well as the activation of matrix metalloproteinase-2 and ERK. Young mice had the highest serum 17β-estradiol levels that decreased with age. Our data suggest that in the aging female mouse lung, estrogen deficiency and an increase of ERα expression lead to the development of an emphysematous phenotype. Estrogen replacement partially prevents these age-associated changes in the lung architecture by restoration of interalveolar septa. Understanding the role of estrogens in the remodeling of the lung during aging may facilitate interventions and therapies for aging-related lung disease in women.
The testicular vasculature forms a complex network, providing oxygenation, micronutrients, and waste clearance from the testis. The vasculature is also instrumental to testis function because it is both the route by which gonadotropins are delivered to the testis and by which T is transported away to target organs. Whether Sertoli cells play a role in regulating the testicular vasculature in postnatal life has never been unequivocally demonstrated. In this study we used models of acute Sertoli cell ablation and acute germ cell ablation to address whether Sertoli cells actively influence vascular structure and function in the adult testis. Our findings suggest that Sertoli cells play a key role in supporting the structure of the testicular vasculature. Ablating Sertoli cells (and germ cells) or germ cells alone results in a similar reduction in testis size, yet only the specific loss of Sertoli cells leads to a reduction in total intratesticular vascular volume, the number of vascular branches, and the numbers of small microvessels; loss of germ cells alone has no effect on the testicular vasculature. These perturbations to the testicular vasculature leads to a reduction in fluid exchange between the vasculature and testicular interstitium, which reduces gonadotropin-stimulated circulating T concentrations, indicative of reduced Leydig cell stimulation and/or reduced secretion of T into the vasculature. These findings describe a new paradigm by which the transport of hormones and other factors into and out of the testis may be influenced by Sertoli cells and highlights these cells as potential targets for enhancing this endocrine relationship.
Binding of the receptor CXCR4 to its ligand stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1) promotes cell survival and is under the influence of a number of regulatory processes including enzymatic ligand inactivation by endopeptidases such as matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9). In light of the pivotal role that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis plays in renal development and in the pathological growth of renal cells, we explored the function of this pathway in diabetic rats and in biopsies from patients with diabetic nephropathy, hypothesizing that the pro-survival effects of CXCR4 in resident cells would attenuate renal injury. Renal CXCR4 expression was observed to be increased in diabetic rats, whereas antagonism of the receptor unmasked albuminuria and accelerated tubular epithelial cell death. In cultured cells, CXCR4 blockade promoted tubular cell apoptosis, up-regulated Bcl-2-associated death promoter, and prevented high glucose/SDF-1-augmented phosphorylation of the pro-survival kinase, Akt. Although CXCR4 expression was also increased in biopsy tissue from patients with diabetic nephropathy, serine 339 phosphorylation of the receptor, indicative of ligand engagement, was unaffected. Coincident with these changes in receptor expression but not activity, MMP-9 was also up-regulated in diabetic nephropathy biopsies. Supporting a ligand-inactivating effect of the endopeptidase, exposure of cultured cells to recombinant MMP-9 abrogated SDF-1 induced Akt phosphorylation. These observations demonstrate a potentially reno-protective role for CXCR4 in diabetes that is impeded in its actions in the human kidney by the coincident up-regulation of ligand-inactivating endopeptidases. Therapeutically intervening in this interplay may limit tubulointerstitial injury, the principal determinant of renal decline in diabetes.
To determine whether L-type voltage-operated Ca2+ channels (L-VOCCs) are required for oligodendrocyte progenitor cell (OPC) development, we generated an inducible conditional knock-out mouse in which the L-VOCC isoform Cav1.2 was postnatally deleted in NG2-positive OPCs. A significant hypomyelination was found in the brains of the Cav1.2 conditional knock-out (Cav1.2KO) mice specifically when the Cav1.2 deletion was induced in OPCs during the first 2 postnatal weeks. A decrease in myelin proteins expression was visible in several brain structures, including the corpus callosum, cortex, and striatum, and the corpus callosum of Cav1.2KO animals showed an important decrease in the percentage of myelinated axons and a substantial increase in the mean g-ratio of myelinated axons. The reduced myelination was accompanied by an important decline in the number of myelinating oligodendrocytes and in the rate of OPC proliferation. Furthermore, using a triple transgenic mouse in which all of the Cav1.2KO OPCs were tracked by a Cre reporter, we found that Cav1.2KO OPCs produce less mature oligodendrocytes than control cells. Finally, live-cell imaging in early postnatal brain slices revealed that the migration and proliferation of subventricular zone OPCs is decreased in the Cav1.2KO mice. These results indicate that the L-VOCC isoform Cav1.2 modulates oligodendrocyte development and suggest that Ca2+ influx mediated by L-VOCCs in OPCs is necessary for normal myelination. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Overall, it is clear that cells in the oligodendrocyte lineage exhibit remarkable plasticity with regard to the expression of Ca2+ channels and that perturbation of Ca2+ homeostasis likely plays an important role in the pathogenesis underlying demyelinating diseases. To determine whether voltage-gated Ca2+ entry is involved in oligodendrocyte maturation and myelination, we used a conditional knock-out mouse for voltage-operated Ca2+ channels in oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. Our results indicate that voltage-operated Ca2+ channels can modulate oligodendrocyte development in the postnatal brain and suggest that voltage-gated Ca2+ influx in oligodendroglial cells is critical for normal myelination. These findings could lead to novel approaches to intervene in neurodegenerative diseases in which myelin is lost or damaged.
Oxytocin (OT) is involved in the regulation of energy metabolism and in the activation of cardioprotective mechanisms. We evaluated whether chronic treatment with OT could prevent the metabolic and cardiac abnormalities associated with diabetes and obesity using the db/db mice model. Four-week-old male db/db mice and their lean nondiabetic littermates (db/+) serving as controls were treated with OT (125 ng/kg · h) or saline vehicle for a period of 12 weeks. Compared with db/+ mice, the saline-treated db/db mice developed obesity, hyperglycemia, and hyperinsulinemia. These mice also exhibited a deficient cardiac OT/natriuretic system and developed systolic and diastolic dysfunction resulting from cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, fibrosis, and apoptosis. These abnormalities were associated with increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, inflammation, and suppressed 5'-adenosine monophosphate kinase signaling pathway. The db/db mice displayed reduced serum levels of adiponectin and adipsin and elevated resistin. OT treatment increased circulating OT levels, significantly reduced serum resistin, body fat accumulation (19%; P<.001), fasting blood glucose levels by (23%; P<.001), and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. OT also normalized cardiac OT receptors, atrial natriuretic peptide, and brain natriuretic peptide, expressions and prevented systolic and diastolic dysfunction as well as cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, fibrosis, and apoptosis. Furthermore, OT reduced cardiac oxidative stress and inflammation and normalized the 5'-adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase signaling pathway. The complete normalization of cardiac structure and function by OT treatment in db/db mice contrasted with only partial improvement of hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia. These results indicate that chronic treatment with OT partially improves glucose and fat metabolism and reverses abnormal cardiac structural remodeling, preventing cardiac dysfunction in db/db mice.
Medulloblastoma (Med) is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. The role of ESR2 [estrogen receptor (ER)-β] in promoting Med growth was comprehensively examined in three in vivo models and human cell lines. In a novel Med ERβ-null knockout model developed by crossing Esr2(-/-) mice with cerebellar granule cell precursor specific Ptch1 conditional knockout mice, the tumor growth rate was significantly decreased in males and females. The absence of Esr2 resulted in increased apoptosis, decreased B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL2), and IGF-1 receptor (IGF1R) expression, and decreased levels of active MAPKs (ERK1/2) and protein kinase B (AKT). Treatment of Med in Ptch1(+/-) Trp53(-/-) mice with the antiestrogen chemotherapeutic drug Faslodex significantly increased symptom-free survival, which was associated with increased apoptosis and decreased BCL2 and IGF1R expression and signaling. Similar effects were also observed in nude mice bearing D283Med xenografts. In vitro studies in human D283Med cells metabolically stressed by glutamine withdrawal found that 17β-estradiol and the ERβ selective agonist 2,3-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)-propionitrile dose dependently protected Med cells from caspase-3-dependent cell death. Those effects were associated with increased phosphorylation of IGF1R, long-term increases in ERK1/2 and AKT signaling, and increased expression of IGF-1, IGF1R, and BCL2. Results of pharmacological experiments revealed that the cytoprotective actions of estradiol were dependent on ERβ and IGF1R receptor tyrosine kinase activity and independent of ERα and G protein-coupled estrogen receptor 1 (G protein coupled receptor 30). The presented results demonstrate that estrogen promotes Med growth through ERβ-mediated increases in IGF1R expression and activity, which induce cytoprotective mechanisms that decrease apoptosis.
Current therapeutic strategies for the treatment of critical limb ischemia (CLI) have only limited success. Recent in vitro evidence in the literature, using cell lines, proposes that the peptide hormone ghrelin may have angiogenic properties. In this study, we aim to investigate if ghrelin could promote postischemic angiogenesis in a mouse model of CLI and, further, identify the mechanistic pathway(s) that underpin ghrelin's proangiogenic properties. CLI was induced in male CD1 mice by femoral artery ligation. Animals were then randomized to receive either vehicle or acylated ghrelin (150 μg/kg sc) for 14 consecutive days. Subsequently, synchrotron radiation microangiography was used to assess hindlimb perfusion. Subsequent tissue samples were collected for molecular and histological analysis. Ghrelin treatment markedly improved limb perfusion by promoting the generation of new capillaries and arterioles (internal diameter less than 50 μm) within the ischemic hindlimb that were both structurally and functionally normal; evident by robust endothelium-dependent vasodilatory responses to acetylcholine. Molecular analysis revealed that ghrelin's angiogenic properties were linked to activation of prosurvival Akt/vascular endothelial growth factor/Bcl-2 signaling cascade, thus reducing the apoptotic cell death and subsequent fibrosis. Further, ghrelin treatment activated proangiogenic (miR-126 and miR-132) and antifibrotic (miR-30a) microRNAs (miRs) while inhibiting antiangiogenic (miR-92a and miR-206) miRs. Importantly, in vitro knockdown of key proangiogenic miRs (miR-126 and miR-132) inhibited the angiogenic potential of ghrelin. These results therefore suggest that clinical use of ghrelin for the early treatment of CLI may be a promising and potent inducer of reparative vascularization through modulation of key molecular factors.
In pancreatic β-cells, controlling the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is critical to counter oxidative stress, dysfunction and death under nutrient excess. Moreover, the fine-tuning of ROS and redox balance is important in the regulation of normal β-cell physiology. We recently demonstrated that Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, in addition to promoting survival, suppress β-cell glucose metabolism and insulin secretion. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the nonapoptotic roles of endogenous Bcl-2 extend to the regulation of β-cell ROS and redox balance. We exposed mouse islet cells and MIN6 cells to the Bcl-2/Bcl-xL antagonist Compound 6 and the Bcl-2-specific antagonist ABT-199 and evaluated ROS levels, Ca(2+) responses, respiratory control, superoxide dismutase activity and cell death. Both acute glucose stimulation and the inhibition of endogenous Bcl-2 progressively increased peroxides and stimulated superoxide dismutase activity in mouse islets. Importantly, conditional β-cell knockout of Bcl-2 amplified glucose-induced formation of peroxides. Bcl-2 antagonism also induced a mitochondrial proton leak that was prevented by the antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine and, therefore, secondary to redox changes. We further established that the proton leak was independent of uncoupling protein 2 but partly mediated by the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. Acutely, inhibitor-induced peroxides promoted Ca(2+) influx, whereas under prolonged Bcl inhibition, the elevated ROS was required for induction of β-cell apoptosis. In conclusion, our data reveal that endogenous Bcl-2 modulates moment-to-moment ROS signaling and suppresses a redox-regulated mitochondrial proton leak in β-cells. These noncanonical roles of Bcl-2 may be important for β-cell function and survival under conditions of high metabolic demand.
Thyroid hormones are released from thyroglobulin (Tg) in lysosomes, which are impaired in infantile/nephropathic cystinosis. Cystinosis is a lysosomal cystine storage disease due to defective cystine exporter, cystinosin. Cystinotic children develop subclinical and then overt hypothyroidism. Why hypothyroidism is the most frequent and earliest endocrine complication of cystinosis is unknown. We here defined early alterations in Ctns(-/-) mice thyroid and identified subcellular and molecular mechanisms. At 9 months, T4 and T3 plasma levels were normal and TSH was moderately increased (∼4-fold). By histology, hyperplasia and hypertrophy of most follicles preceded colloid exhaustion. Increased immunolabeling for thyrocyte proliferation and apoptotic shedding indicated accelerated cell turnover. Electron microscopy revealed endoplasmic reticulum (ER) dilation, apical lamellipodia indicating macropinocytic colloid uptake, and lysosomal cystine crystals. Tg accumulation in dilated ER contrasted with mRNA down-regulation. Increased expression of ER chaperones, glucose-regulated protein of 78 kDa and protein disulfide isomerase, associated with alternative X-box binding protein-1 splicing, revealed unfolded protein response (UPR) activation by ER stress. Decreased Tg mRNA and ER stress suggested reduced Tg synthesis. Coordinated increase of UPR markers, activating transcription factor-4 and C/EBP homologous protein, linked ER stress to apoptosis. Hormonogenic cathepsins were not altered, but lysosome-associated membrane protein-1 immunolabeling disclosed enlarged vesicles containing iodo-Tg and impaired lysosomal fusion. Isopycnic fractionation showed iodo-Tg accumulation in denser lysosomes, suggesting defective lysosomal processing and hormone release. In conclusion, Ctns(-/-) mice showed the following alterations: 1) compensated primary hypothyroidism and accelerated thyrocyte turnover; 2) impaired Tg production linked to ER stress/UPR response; and 3) altered endolysosomal trafficking and iodo-Tg processing. The Ctns(-/-) thyroid is useful to study disease progression and evaluate novel therapies.
In nontransformed bovine mammary epithelial cells, the intrinsic apoptosis inducer anisomycin (ANS) induces IGFBP-3 expression and nuclear localization and knockdown of IGFBP-3 attenuates ANS-induced apoptosis. Others have shown in prostate cancer cells that exogenous IGFBP-3 induces apoptosis by facilitating nuclear export of the orphan nuclear receptor Nur77 and its binding partner, retinoid X receptor-α (RXRα). The goal of the present work was to determine whether endogenous IGFBP-3 plays a role in ANS-induced apoptosis by facilitating nuclear transport of Nur77 and/or RXRα in nontransformed cells. Knockdown of Nur77 with siRNA decreased ANS-induced cleavage of caspase-3 and -7 and their downstream target, PARP, indicating a role for Nur77 in ANS-induced apoptosis. In cells transfected with IGFBP-3, IGFBP-3 associated with RXRα but not Nur77 under basal conditions, however, IGFBP-3 co-precipitated with phosphorylated forms of both proteins in ANS-treated cells. Indirect immunofluorescence and cell fractionation techniques showed that ANS induced phosphorylation and transport of Nur77 from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and these effects were attenuated by knockdown of IGFBP-3. These data suggest that endogenous IGFBP-3 plays a role in intrinsic apoptosis by facilitating phosphorylation and nuclear export of Nur77 to the cytoplasm where it exerts its apoptotic effect. Whether this mechanism involves a physical association between endogenous IGFBP-3 and Nur77 or RXRα remains to be determined.
Mutations that impair the proliferation of enteric neural crest-derived cells (ENCDC) cause Hirschsprung disease, a potentially lethal birth defect where the enteric nervous system (ENS) is absent from distal bowel. Inosine 5' monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH) activity is essential for de novo GMP synthesis, and chemical inhibition of IMPDH induces Hirschsprung disease-like pathology in mouse models by reducing ENCDC proliferation. Two IMPDH isoforms are ubiquitously expressed in the embryo, but only IMPDH2 is required for life. To further understand the role of IMPDH2 in ENS and neural crest development, we characterized a conditional Impdh2 mutant mouse. Deletion of Impdh2 in the early neural crest using the Wnt1-Cre transgene produced defects in multiple neural crest derivatives including highly penetrant intestinal aganglionosis, agenesis of the craniofacial skeleton, and cardiac outflow tract and great vessel malformations. Analysis using a Rosa26 reporter mouse suggested that some or all of the remaining ENS in Impdh2 conditional-knockout animals was derived from cells that escaped Wnt1-Cre mediated DNA recombination. These data suggest that IMPDH2 mediated guanine nucleotide synthesis is essential for normal development of the ENS and other neural crest derivatives.
Histiocytic sarcomas represent rare but fatal neoplasms in humans. Based on the absence of a commercially available human histiocytic sarcoma cell line the frequently affected dog displays a suitable translational model. Canine distemper virus, closely related to measles virus, is a highly promising candidate for oncolytic virotherapy. Therapeutic failures in patients are mostly associated with tumour invasion and metastasis often induced by misdirected cytoskeletal protein activities. Thus, the impact of persistent canine distemper virus infection on the cytoskeletal protein cortactin, which is frequently overexpressed in human cancers with poor prognosis, was investigated in vitro in a canine histiocytic sarcoma cell line (DH82). Though phagocytic activity, proliferation and apoptotic rate were unaltered, a significantly reduced migration activity compared to controls (6 hours and 1 day after seeding) accompanied by a decreased number of cortactin mRNA transcripts (1 day) was detected. Furthermore, persistently canine distemper virus infected DH82 cells showed a predominant diffuse intracytoplasmic cortactin distribution at 6 hours and 1 day compared to controls with a prominent membranous expression pattern (p ≤ 0.05). Summarized, persistent canine distemper virus infection induces reduced tumour cell migration associated with an altered intracellular cortactin distribution, indicating cytoskeletal changes as one of the major pathways of virus-associated inhibition of tumour spread.
The continuous growth of mouse incisors depends on epithelial stem cells (SCs) residing in the SC niche, called labial cervical loop (LaCL). The homeostasis of the SCs is subtly regulated by complex signaling networks. In this study, we focus on retinoic acid (RA), a derivative of Vitamin A and a known pivotal signaling molecule in controlling the functions of stem cells (SCs). We analyzed the expression profiles of several key molecules of the RA signaling pathway in cultured incisor explants upon exogenous RA treatment. The expression patterns of these molecules suggested a negative feedback regulation of RA signaling in the developing incisor. We demonstrated that exogenous RA had negative effects on incisor SCs and that this was accompanied by downregulation of Fgf10, a mesenchymally expressed SC survival factor in the mouse incisor. Supplement of Fgf10 in incisor cultures completely blocked RA effects by antagonizing apoptosis and increasing proliferation in LaCL epithelial SCs. In addition, Fgf10 obviously antagonized RA-induced downregulation of the SC marker Sox2 in incisor epithelial SCs. Our findings suggest that the negative effects of RA on incisor SCs result from inhibition of mesenchymal Fgf10.