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In JoVE (2)
- توليد مستقرة ايليجانس جيم المعدلة وراثيا عن طريق Microinjection
- تطبيق الفحص جيم ايليجانس الدوبامين العصبية للتحلل من التحقق من صحة جينات مرض باركنسون المحتملة
Other Publications (36)
- Human Molecular Genetics
- Journal of Cell Science
- Advances in Neurology
- Chemical Communications (Cambridge, England)
- Human Molecular Genetics
- Current Biology : CB
- The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
- Science (New York, N.Y.)
- The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
- Brain Research
- BMC Cell Biology
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Neuroscience Letters
- Molecular Brain
- Disease Models & Mechanisms
- Nature Genetics
- Nature Chemical Biology
- PloS One
- Cell Stress & Chaperones
- Neurobiology of Disease
- Disease Models & Mechanisms
- Developmental Dynamics : an Official Publication of the American Association of Anatomists
- Cell Stress & Chaperones
- Disease Models & Mechanisms
- Journal of Neurochemistry
- Human Molecular Genetics
- Methods (San Diego, Calif.)
- Nature Communications
- Human Molecular Genetics
- Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.)
- Science (New York, N.Y.)
- The Journal of Biological Chemistry
- The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
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Articles by Guy A. Caldwell in JoVE
توليد مستقرة ايليجانس جيم المعدلة وراثيا عن طريق Microinjection
Laura A. Berkowitz, Adam L. Knight, Guy A. Caldwell, Kim A. Caldwell
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama
هذا الفيديو يوضح أسلوب microinjection في الغدد التناسلية من ايليجانس جيم لخلق حيوانات معدلة وراثيا.
تطبيق الفحص جيم ايليجانس الدوبامين العصبية للتحلل من التحقق من صحة جينات مرض باركنسون المحتملة
Laura A. Berkowitz, Shusei Hamamichi, Adam L. Knight, Adam J. Harrington, Guy A. Caldwell, Kim A. Caldwell
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama
هذا الفيديو يوضح كيفية استخدام جيم ايليجانس لتقييم الدوبامين العصبية تنكس عصبي كنموذج لمرض باركنسون. وعلاوة على ذلك ، تستخدم شاشات الجينية لتحديد العوامل التي تعزز إما انحطاط أو اعصاب.
Other articles by Guy A. Caldwell on PubMed
Suppression of Polyglutamine-induced Protein Aggregation in Caenorhabditis Elegans by Torsin Proteins
Human Molecular Genetics. Feb, 2003 | Pubmed ID: 12554684
Torsion dystonia is an autosomal dominant movement disorder characterized by involuntary, repetitive muscle contractions and twisted postures. The most severe early-onset form of dystonia has been linked to mutations in the human DYT1 (TOR1A) gene encoding a protein termed torsinA. While causative genetic alterations have been identified, the function of torsin proteins and the molecular mechanism underlying dystonia remain unknown. Phylogenetic analysis of the torsin protein family indicates these proteins share distant sequence similarity with the large and diverse family of AAA+ proteins. We have established the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, as a model system for examining torsin activity. Using an in vivo assay for polyglutamine repeat-induced protein aggregation in living animals, we have determined that ectopic overexpression of both human and C. elegans torsin proteins results in a dramatic reduction of polyglutamine-dependent protein aggregation in a manner similar to that previously reported for molecular chaperones. The suppressive effects of torsin overexpression persisted as animals aged, whereas a mutant nematode torsin protein was incapable of ameliorating aggregate formation. Antibody staining of transgenic animals indicated that both the C. elegans torsin-related protein TOR-2 and ubiquitin were localized to sites of protein aggregation. These data represent the first functional evidence of a role for torsins in effectively managing protein folding and suggest that possible breakdown in a neuroprotective mechanism that is, in part, mediated by torsins may be responsible for the neuronal dysfunction associated with dystonia.
Journal of Cell Science. May, 2003 | Pubmed ID: 12679384
NudC, a nuclear movement protein that associates with dynein, was originally cloned as a mitogen-inducible early growth response gene. NudC forms a biochemical complex with components of the dynein/dynactin complex and is suggested to play a role in translocation of nuclei in proliferating neuronal progenitors as well as in migrating neurons in culture. Here, we show that NudC plays multiple roles in mitosis and cytokinesis in cultured mammalian cells. Altering NudC levels by either small interfering RNA-mediated gene silencing or adenovirus-mediated overexpression resulted in multinucleated cells and cells with persistent intercellular connections and disorganized midzone and midbody matrix. These phenotypes suggest a failure in cytokinesis in NudC altered cells. Further, a key mitotic enzyme, polo-like kinase, is mislocalized from the centrosomes and the midbody in NudC altered cells. Gene silencing of nud-1, the Caenorhabditis elegans ortholog of NudC, led to a loss of midzone microtubules and the rapid regression of the cleavage furrow, which resulted in one-celled embryos containing two nuclei. The loss of midzone microtubule organization owing to silencing of the NudC/nud-1 gene in two systems, coupled with the loss of Plk1 from mitotic structures in mammalian cells, provide clues to the cytokinesis defect and the multinucleation phenotype. Our findings suggest that NudC functions in mitosis and cytokinesis, in part by regulating microtubule organization at the midzone and midbody.
Advances in Neurology. 2004 | Pubmed ID: 14509658
Using Caenorhabditis Elegans to Probe Toxicity of 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium Chloride Based Ionic Liquids
Chemical Communications (Cambridge, England). Mar, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15010772
Ionic liquids are gaining attention as new solvents within the green chemistry community; however this attention has quickly outstripped current environmental and toxicological data available. In the present communication, we establish the use of Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism for inexpensively and quickly exploring toxicological effects of 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride ionic liquids.
Epileptic-like Convulsions Associated with LIS-1 in the Cytoskeletal Control of Neurotransmitter Signaling in Caenorhabditis Elegans
Human Molecular Genetics. Sep, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15254012
Cortical malformations are a collection of disorders affecting brain development. Mutations in the LIS1 gene lead to a disorganized and smooth cerebral cortex caused by failure in neuronal migration. Among the clinical consequences of lissencephaly are mental retardation and intractable epilepsy. It remains unclear whether the seizures result from aberrant neuronal placement, disruption of intrinsic properties of neurons, or both. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans offers an opportunity to study such convulsions in a simple animal with a defined nervous system. Here we show that convulsions mimicking epilepsy can be induced by a mutation in a C. elegans lis-1 allele (pnm-1), in combination with a chemical antagonist of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter signaling. Identical convulsions were obtained using C. elegans mutants defective in GABA transmission, whereas none of these mutants or the antagonist alone caused convulsions, indicating a threshold was exceeded in response to this combination. Crosses between pnm-1 and fluorescent marker strains designed to exclusively illuminate either the processes of GABAergic neurons or synaptic vesicles surprisingly showed no deviations in neuronal architecture. Instead, presynaptic defects in GABAergic vesicle distribution were clearly evident and could be phenocopied by RNAi directed against cytoplasmic dynein, a known LIS1 interactor. Furthermore, mutations in UNC-104, a neuronal-specific kinesin, and SNB-1, a synaptic vesicle-associated protein termed synaptobrevin, exhibit similar convulsion phenotypes following chemical induction. Taken together, these studies establish C. elegans as a system to investigate subtle cytoskeletal mechanisms regulating intrinsic neuronal activity and suggest that it may be possible to dissociate the epileptic consequences of lissencephaly from the more phenotypically overt cortical defects associated with neuronal migration.
MEC-2 is Recruited to the Putative Mechanosensory Complex in C. Elegans Touch Receptor Neurons Through Its Stomatin-like Domain
Current Biology : CB. Nov, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15530389
The response to gentle body touch in C. elegans requires a degenerin channel complex containing four proteins (MEC-2, MEC-4, MEC-6, and MEC-10). The central portion of the integral membrane protein MEC-2 contains a stomatin-like region that is highly conserved from bacteria to mammals. The molecular function of this domain in MEC-2, however, is unknown.
Torsin-mediated Protection from Cellular Stress in the Dopaminergic Neurons of Caenorhabditis Elegans
The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience. Apr, 2005 | Pubmed ID: 15829632
Parkinson's disease (PD) is linked genetically to proteins that function in the management of cellular stress resulting from protein misfolding and oxidative damage. Overexpression or mutation of alpha-synuclein results in the formation of Lewy bodies and neurodegeneration of dopaminergic (DA) neurons. Human torsinA, mutations in which cause another movement disorder termed early-onset torsion dystonia, is highly expressed in DA neurons and is also a component of Lewy bodies. Previous work has established torsins as having molecular chaperone activity. Thus, we examined the ability of torsinA to manage cellular stress within DA neurons of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Worm DA neurons undergo a reproducible pattern of neurodegeneration after treatment with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), a neurotoxin commonly used to model PD. Overexpression of torsins in C. elegans DA neurons results in dramatic suppression of neurodegeneration after 6-OHDA treatment. In contrast, expression of either dystonia-associated mutant torsinA or combined overexpression of wild-type and mutant torsinA yielded greatly diminished neuroprotection against 6-OHDA. We further demonstrated that torsins seem to protect DA neurons from 6-OHDA through downregulating protein levels of the dopamine transporter (DAT-1) in vivo. Additionally, we determined that torsins protect robustly against DA neurodegeneration caused by overexpression of alpha-synuclein. Using mutant nematodes lacking DAT-1 function, we also showed that torsin neuroprotection from alpha-synuclein-induced degeneration occurs in a manner independent of this transporter. Together, these data have mechanistic implications for movement disorders, because our results demonstrate that torsin proteins have the capacity to manage sources of cellular stress within DA neurons.
Science (New York, N.Y.). Jul, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 16794039
Alpha-synuclein (alphaSyn) misfolding is associated with several devastating neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson's disease (PD). In yeast cells and in neurons alphaSyn accumulation is cytotoxic, but little is known about its normal function or pathobiology. The earliest defect following alphaSyn expression in yeast was a block in endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-to-Golgi vesicular trafficking. In a genomewide screen, the largest class of toxicity modifiers were proteins functioning at this same step, including the Rab guanosine triphosphatase Ypt1p, which associated with cytoplasmic alphaSyn inclusions. Elevated expression of Rab1, the mammalian YPT1 homolog, protected against alphaSyn-induced dopaminergic neuron loss in animal models of PD. Thus, synucleinopathies may result from disruptions in basic cellular functions that interface with the unique biology of particular neurons to make them especially vulnerable.
Deletion of the Ubiquitin Ligase CHIP Leads to the Accumulation, but Not the Aggregation, of Both Endogenous Phospho- and Caspase-3-cleaved Tau Species
The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience. Jun, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 16807328
Accumulation of the microtubule-associated protein tau into neurofibrillary lesions is a pathological consequence of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Hereditary mutations in the MAPT gene were shown to promote the formation of structurally distinct tau aggregates in patients that had a parkinsonian-like clinical presentation. Whether tau aggregates themselves or the soluble intermediate species that precede their aggregation are neurotoxic entities in these disorders has yet to be resolved; however, recent in vivo evidence supports the latter. We hypothesized that depletion of CHIP, a tau ubiquitin ligase, would lead to an increase in abnormal tau. Here, we show that deletion of CHIP in mice leads to the accumulation of non-aggregated, ubiquitin-negative, hyperphosphorylated tau species. CHIP-/- mice also have increased neuronal caspase-3 levels and activity, as well as caspase-cleaved tau immunoreactivity. Overexpression of mutant (P301L) human tau in CHIP-/- mice is insufficient to promote either argyrophilic or "pre-tangle" structures, despite marked phospho-tau accumulation throughout the brain. These observations are supported in post-developmental studies using RNA interference for CHIP (chn-1) in Caenorhabditis elegans and cell culture systems. Our results demonstrate that CHIP is a primary component in the ubiquitin-dependent degradation of tau. We also show that hyperphosphorylation and caspase-3 cleavage of tau both occur before aggregate formation. Based on these findings, we propose that polyubiquitination of tau by CHIP may facilitate the formation of insoluble filamentous tau lesions.
Genetic Interactions Among Cortical Malformation Genes That Influence Susceptibility to Convulsions in C. Elegans
Brain Research. Nov, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 16996038
Epilepsy is estimated to affect 1-2% of the world population, yet remains poorly understood at a molecular level. We have previously established the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model for investigating genetic susceptibilities to seizure-like convulsions in vivo. Here we investigate the behavioral consequences of decreasing the activity of nematode gene homologs within the LIS1 pathway that are associated with a human cortical malformation termed lissencephaly. Bioinformatic analysis revealed the nud-2 gene, encoding the worm homolog of mammalian effectors of LIS1, termed NDE1 and NDEL1. Phenotypic analysis of animals targeted by RNA interference (RNAi) was performed using a pentylenetetrazole (PTZ) exposure paradigm to induce convulsions. Worms depleted for LIS1 pathway components (NUD-1, NUD-2, DHC-1, CDK-5, and CDKA-1) exhibited significant convulsions following PTZ and RNAi treatment. Strains harboring fluorescent markers for GABAergic neuronal architecture and synaptic vesicle trafficking were employed to discern putative mechanisms accounting for observed convulsion behaviors. We found that depletion of LIS1 pathway components resulted in defective GABA synaptic vesicle trafficking. We also utilized combinations of specific genetic backgrounds to create a sensitized state for convulsion susceptibility and discovered that convulsion effects were significantly enhanced when LIS-1 and other pathway components were compromised within the same animals. Thus, interactions among gene products with LIS-1 may mediate intrinsic thresholds of neuronal synchrony.
BMC Cell Biology. 2007 | Pubmed ID: 17663792
Protein aggregation is a hallmark of several neurodegenerative diseases including Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. Proteins containing long, homopolymeric stretches of glutamine are especially prone to form aggregates. It has long been known that the small protein modifier, ubiquitin, localizes to these aggregates. In this report, nematode and cell culture models for polyglutamine aggregation are used to investigate the role of the ubiquitin pathway in protein aggregation.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Jan, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18162536
alpha-Synuclein (alpha-syn), a protein of unknown function, is the most abundant protein in Lewy bodies, the histological hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD). In yeast alpha-syn inhibits endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-to-Golgi (ER-->Golgi) vesicle trafficking, which is rescued by overexpression of a Rab GTPase that regulates ER-->Golgi trafficking. The homologous Rab1 rescues alpha-syn toxicity in dopaminergic neuronal models of PD. Here we investigate this conserved feature of alpha-syn pathobiology. In a cell-free system with purified transport factors alpha-syn inhibited ER-->Golgi trafficking in an alpha-syn dose-dependent manner. Vesicles budded efficiently from the ER, but their docking or fusion to Golgi membranes was inhibited. Thus, the in vivo trafficking problem is due to a direct effect of alpha-syn on the transport machinery. By ultrastructural analysis the earliest in vivo defect was an accumulation of morphologically undocked vesicles, starting near the plasma membrane and growing into massive intracellular vesicular clusters in a dose-dependent manner. By immunofluorescence/immunoelectron microscopy, these clusters were associated both with alpha-syn and with diverse vesicle markers, suggesting that alpha-syn can impair multiple trafficking steps. Other Rabs did not ameliorate alpha-syn toxicity in yeast, but RAB3A, which is highly expressed in neurons and localized to presynaptic termini, and RAB8A, which is localized to post-Golgi vesicles, suppressed toxicity in neuronal models of PD. Thus, alpha-syn causes general defects in vesicle trafficking, to which dopaminergic neurons are especially sensitive.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Jan, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18182484
Genomic multiplication of the locus-encoding human alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn), a polypeptide with a propensity toward intracellular misfolding, results in Parkinson's disease (PD). Here we report the results from systematic screening of nearly 900 candidate genetic targets, prioritized by bioinformatic associations to existing PD genes and pathways, via RNAi knockdown. Depletion of 20 gene products reproducibly enhanced misfolding of alpha-syn over the course of aging in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Subsequent functional analysis of seven positive targets revealed five previously unreported gene products that significantly protect against age- and dose-dependent alpha-syn-induced degeneration in the dopamine neurons of transgenic worms. These include two trafficking proteins, a conserved cellular scaffold-type protein that modulates G protein signaling, a protein of unknown function, and one gene reported to cause neurodegeneration in knockout mice. These data represent putative genetic susceptibility loci and potential therapeutic targets for PD, a movement disorder affecting approximately 2% of the population over 65 years of age.
Neuroscience Letters. Jul, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18514411
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder with approximately 2% of people over age 65 suffering from this disease. Risk factors for PD involve interplay between still poorly defined genetic and non-genetic contributors, but appear to converge upon cellular pathways that mediate protein misfolding and oxidative stress that lead to dopaminergic neuron loss. The identification of either new or repurposed drugs that exhibit benefit in slowing the age-dependent neuronal damage that occurs in PD is a significant goal of much ongoing research. We have exploited the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system by which the neuroprotective capacity of acetaminophen could be rapidly evaluated for efficacy in attenuating dopamine (DA) neurodegeneration. Using three independent and established neurodegenerative models in C. elegans, we assayed for acetaminophen-dependent rescue in response to: (1) over-expression of the PD-associated protein, alpha-synuclein; (2) acute exposure to 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA); (3) excess intracellular DA production due to over-expression of the DA biosynthetic enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). These data suggest that acetaminophen significantly protected C. elegans DA neurons from stressors related to oxidative damage, but not protein misfolding. Taken together, these studies imply an activity for acetaminophen in the attenuation of DA neuron loss that, following essential corroborative analyses in mammalian systems, may represent a potential benefit for PD.
Molecular Brain. 2008 | Pubmed ID: 19021916
α-synuclein (α-syn) is a main component of Lewy bodies (LB) that occur in many neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease (PD), dementia with LB (DLB) and multi-system atrophy. α-syn mutations or amplifications are responsible for a subset of autosomal dominant familial PD cases, and overexpression causes neurodegeneration and motor disturbances in animals. To investigate mechanisms for α-syn accumulation and toxicity, we studied a mouse model of lysosomal enzyme cathepsin D (CD) deficiency, and found extensive accumulation of endogenous α-syn in neurons without overabundance of α-syn mRNA. In addition to impaired macroautophagy, CD deficiency reduced proteasome activity, suggesting an essential role for lysosomal CD function in regulating multiple proteolytic pathways that are important for α-syn metabolism. Conversely, CD overexpression reduces α-syn aggregation and is neuroprotective against α-syn overexpression-induced cell death in vitro. In a C. elegans model, CD deficiency exacerbates α-syn accumulation while its overexpression is protective against α-syn-induced dopaminergic neurodegeneration. Mutated CD with diminished enzymatic activity or overexpression of cathepsins B (CB) or L (CL) is not protective in the worm model, indicating a unique requirement for enzymatically active CD. Our data identify a conserved CD function in α-syn degradation and identify CD as a novel target for LB disease therapeutics.
Disease Models & Mechanisms. Jul-Aug, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 19048050
Human movement disorders represent a significant and unresolved societal burden. Among these, the most prevalent is Parkinson's disease (PD), a disorder afflicting millions worldwide. Despite major advances, stemming primarily from human genetics, there remains a significant gap in our understanding of what factors underlie disease susceptibility, onset, and progression. Innovative strategies to discern specific intracellular targets for subsequent drug development are needed to more rapidly translate basic findings to the clinic. Here we briefly review the recent contributions of research using the nematode roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system for identifying and characterizing gene products associated with PD. As a microscopic but multicellular and genetically tractable animal with a well-defined nervous system and an experimentally tenable lifespan, C. elegans affords significant advantages to researchers attempting to determine causative and therapeutic factors that influence neuronal dysfunction and age-associated neurodegeneration. The rapidity with which traditional genetic, large-scale genomic, and pharmacological screening can be applied to C. elegans epitomizes the utility of this animal for disease research. Moreover, with mature bioinformatic and functional genomic data readily available, the nematode is well positioned to play an increasingly important role in PD-associated discoveries.
Alpha-synuclein is Part of a Diverse and Highly Conserved Interaction Network That Includes PARK9 and Manganese Toxicity
Nature Genetics. Mar, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19182805
Parkinson's disease (PD), dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy, collectively referred to as synucleinopathies, are associated with a diverse group of genetic and environmental susceptibilities. The best studied of these is PD. alpha-Synuclein (alpha-syn) has a key role in the pathogenesis of both familial and sporadic PD, but evidence linking it to other predisposition factors is limited. Here we report a strong genetic interaction between alpha-syn and the yeast ortholog of the PD-linked gene ATP13A2 (also known as PARK9). Dopaminergic neuron loss caused by alpha-syn overexpression in animal and neuronal PD models is rescued by coexpression of PARK9. Further, knockdown of the ATP13A2 ortholog in Caenorhabditis elegans enhances alpha-syn misfolding. These data provide a direct functional connection between alpha-syn and another PD susceptibility locus. Manganese exposure is an environmental risk factor linked to PD and PD-like syndromes. We discovered that yeast PARK9 helps to protect cells from manganese toxicity, revealing a connection between PD genetics (alpha-syn and PARK9) and an environmental risk factor (PARK9 and manganese). Finally, we show that additional genes from our yeast screen, with diverse functions, are potent modifiers of alpha-syn-induced neuron loss in animals, establishing a diverse, highly conserved interaction network for alpha-syn.
Nature Chemical Biology. Sep, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19597508
Phage display has demonstrated the utility of cyclic peptides as general protein ligands but cannot access proteins inside eukaryotic cells. Expanding a new chemical genetics tool, we describe the first expressed library of head-to-tail cyclic peptides in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). We applied the library to selections in a yeast model of alpha-synuclein toxicity that recapitulates much of the cellular pathology of Parkinson's disease. From a pool of 5 million transformants, we isolated two related cyclic peptide constructs that specifically reduced the toxicity of human alpha-synuclein. These expressed cyclic peptide constructs also prevented dopaminergic neuron loss in an established Caenorhabditis elegans Parkinson's model. This work highlights the speed and efficiency of using libraries of expressed cyclic peptides for forward chemical genetics in cellular models of human disease.
Pharmacogenetic Analysis Reveals a Post-developmental Role for Rac GTPases in Caenorhabditis Elegans GABAergic Neurotransmission
Genetics. Dec, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19797046
The nerve-cell cytoskeleton is essential for the regulation of intrinsic neuronal activity. For example, neuronal migration defects are associated with microtubule regulators, such as LIS1 and dynein, as well as with actin regulators, including Rac GTPases and integrins, and have been thought to underlie epileptic seizures in patients with cortical malformations. However, it is plausible that post-developmental functions of specific cytoskeletal regulators contribute to the more transient nature of aberrant neuronal activity and could be masked by developmental anomalies. Accordingly, our previous results have illuminated functional roles, distinct from developmental contributions, for Caenorhabditis elegans orthologs of LIS1 and dynein in GABAergic synaptic vesicle transport. Here, we report that C. elegans with function-altering mutations in canonical Rac GTPase-signaling-pathway members demonstrated a robust behavioral response to a GABA(A) receptor antagonist, pentylenetetrazole. Rac mutants also exhibited hypersensitivity to an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, aldicarb, uncovering deficiencies in inhibitory neurotransmission. RNA interference targeting Rac hypomorphs revealed synergistic interactions between the dynein motor complex and some, but not all, members of Rac-signaling pathways. These genetic interactions are consistent with putative Rac-dependent regulation of actin and microtubule networks and suggest that some cytoskeletal regulators cooperate to uniquely govern neuronal synchrony through dynein-mediated GABAergic vesicle transport in C. elegans.
Investigating Bacterial Sources of Toxicity As an Environmental Contributor to Dopaminergic Neurodegeneration
PloS One. 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19806188
Parkinson disease (PD) involves progressive neurodegeneration, including loss of dopamine (DA) neurons from the substantia nigra. Select genes associated with rare familial forms of PD function in cellular pathways, such as the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS), involved in protein degradation. The misfolding and accumulation of proteins, such as alpha-synuclein, into inclusions termed Lewy Bodies represents a clinical hallmark of PD. Given the predominance of sporadic PD among patient populations, environmental toxins may induce the disease, although their nature is largely unknown. Thus, an unmet challenge surrounds the discovery of causal or contributory neurotoxic factors that could account for the prevalence of sporadic PD. Bacteria within the order Actinomycetales are renowned for their robust production of secondary metabolites and might represent unidentified sources of environmental exposures. Among these, the aerobic genera, Streptomyces, produce natural proteasome inhibitors that block protein degradation and may potentially damage DA neurons. Here we demonstrate that a metabolite produced by a common soil bacterium, S. venezuelae, caused DA neurodegeneration in the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, which increased as animals aged. This metabolite, which disrupts UPS function, caused gradual degeneration of all neuronal classes examined, however DA neurons were particularly vulnerable to exposure. The presence of DA exacerbated toxicity because neurodegeneration was attenuated in mutant nematodes depleted for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in DA production. Strikingly, this factor caused dose-dependent death of human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, a dopaminergic line. Efforts to purify the toxic activity revealed that it is a highly stable, lipophilic, and chemically unique small molecule. Evidence of a robust neurotoxic factor that selectively impacts neuronal survival in a progressive yet moderate manner is consistent with the etiology of age-associated neurodegenerative diseases. Collectively, these data suggest the potential for exposures to the metabolites of specific common soil bacteria to possibly represent a contributory environmental component to PD.
Cell Stress & Chaperones. Jan, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 18626791
Regulation of cell division requires the concerted function of proteins and protein complexes that properly mediate cytoskeletal dynamics. NudC is an evolutionarily conserved protein of undetermined function that associates with microtubules and interacts with several key regulators of mitosis, such as polo-kinase 1 (Plk1) and dynein. NudC is essential for proper mitotic progression, and homologs have been identified in species ranging from fungi to humans. In this paper, we report the characterization of the Caenorhabditis elegans NudC homolog, NUD-1, as a protein exhibiting molecular chaperone activity. All NudC/NUD-1 proteins share a conserved p23/HSP20 domain predicted by three-dimensional modeling [Garcia-Ranea, Mirey, Camonis, Valencia, FEBS Lett 529(2-3):162-167, 2002]. We demonstrate that nematode NUD-1 is able to prevent the aggregation of two substrate proteins, citrate synthase (CS) and luciferase, at stoichiometric concentrations. Further, NUD-1 also protects the native state of CS from thermal inactivation by significantly reducing the inactivation rate of this enzyme. To further determine if NUD-1/substrate complexes were productive or simply "dead-end" unfolding intermediates, a luciferase refolding assay was utilized. Following thermal denaturation, rabbit reticulocyte lysate and ATP were added and luciferase activity measured. In the presence of NUD-1, nearly all of the luciferase activity was regained, indicating that unfolded intermediates complexed with NUD-1 could be refolded. These studies represent the first functional evidence for a member of this mitotically essential protein family as having chaperone activity and facilitates elucidation of the role such proteins play in chaperone complexes utilized in cell division. C. elegans NUD-1 is a member of an evolutionary conserved protein family of unknown function involved in the regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics. NUD-1 and its mammalian homolog, NudC, function with the dynein motor complex to ensure proper cell division, and knockdown or overexpression of these proteins leads to disruption of mitosis. In this paper, we show that NUD-1 possesses ATP-independent chaperone activity comparable to that of small heat shock proteins and cochaperones and that changes in phosphorylation state functionally alter chaperone activity in a phosphomimetic NUD-1 mutant.
VPS41, a Protein Involved in Lysosomal Trafficking, is Protective in Caenorhabditis Elegans and Mammalian Cellular Models of Parkinson's Disease
Neurobiology of Disease. Feb, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 19850127
VPS41 is a protein identified as a potential therapeutic target for Parkinson's disease (PD) as a result of a high-throughput RNAi screen in Caenorhabditis elegans. VPS41 has a plausible mechanistic link to the pathogenesis of PD, as in yeast it is known to participate in trafficking of proteins to the lysosomal system and several recent lines of evidence have pointed to the importance of lysosomal system dysfunction in the neurotoxicity of alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn). We found that expression of the human form of VPS41 (hVPS41) prevents dopamine (DA) neuron loss induced by alpha-syn overexpression and 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) neurotoxicity in C. elegans. In SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell lines stably transfected with hVPS41, we determined that presence of this protein conferred protection against the neurotoxins 6-OHDA and rotenone. Overexpression of hVPS41 did not alter the mitochondrial membrane depolarization induced by these neurotoxins. hVPS41 did, however, block downstream events in the apoptotic cascade including activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3, and PARP cleavage. We also observed that hVPS41 reduced the accumulation of insoluble high-molecular weight forms of alpha-syn in SH-SY5Y cells after treatment with rotenone. These data show that hVPS41 is protective against both alpha-syn and neurotoxic-mediated injury in invertebrate and cellular models of PD. These protective functions may be related to enhanced clearance of misfolded or aggregated protein, including alpha-syn. Our studies indicate that hVPS41 may be a useful target for developing therapeutic strategies for human PD.
Compounds from an Unbiased Chemical Screen Reverse Both ER-to-Golgi Trafficking Defects and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Parkinson's Disease Models
Disease Models & Mechanisms. Mar-Apr, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20038714
alpha-Synuclein (alpha-syn) is a small lipid-binding protein involved in vesicle trafficking whose function is poorly characterized. It is of great interest to human biology and medicine because alpha-syn dysfunction is associated with several neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson's disease (PD). We previously created a yeast model of alpha-syn pathobiology, which established vesicle trafficking as a process that is particularly sensitive to alpha-syn expression. We also uncovered a core group of proteins with diverse activities related to alpha-syn toxicity that is conserved from yeast to mammalian neurons. Here, we report that a yeast strain expressing a somewhat higher level of alpha-syn also exhibits strong defects in mitochondrial function. Unlike our previous strain, genetic suppression of endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-to-Golgi trafficking alone does not suppress alpha-syn toxicity in this strain. In an effort to identify individual compounds that could simultaneously rescue these apparently disparate pathological effects of alpha-syn, we screened a library of 115,000 compounds. We identified a class of small molecules that reduced alpha-syn toxicity at micromolar concentrations in this higher toxicity strain. These compounds reduced the formation of alpha-syn foci, re-established ER-to-Golgi trafficking and ameliorated alpha-syn-mediated damage to mitochondria. They also corrected the toxicity of alpha-syn in nematode neurons and in primary rat neuronal midbrain cultures. Remarkably, the compounds also protected neurons against rotenone-induced toxicity, which has been used to model the mitochondrial defects associated with PD in humans. That single compounds are capable of rescuing the diverse toxicities of alpha-syn in yeast and neurons suggests that they are acting on deeply rooted biological processes that connect these toxicities and have been conserved for a billion years of eukaryotic evolution. Thus, it seems possible to develop novel therapeutic strategies to simultaneously target the multiple pathological features of PD.
Developmental Dynamics : an Official Publication of the American Association of Anatomists. May, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20108318
Parkinson's disease (PD) is an age-related movement disorder resulting, in part, from selective loss of dopaminergic neurons. Both invertebrate and mammalian models have been developed to study the cellular mechanisms altered during disease progression; nevertheless there are limitations within each model. Mammalian models remain invaluable in studying PD, but are expensive and time consuming. Here, we review genetic and environmental factors associated with PD, and describe how the nematode roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans, has been used as a model organism for studying various aspects of this neurodegenerative disease. Both genetic and chemical screens have been conducted in C. elegans to identify molecular pathways, proteins, and small molecules that can impact PD pathology. Lastly, we highlight future areas of investigation, in the context of emerging fields in biology, where the nematode can be exploited to provide mechanistic insights and potential strategies to accelerate the path toward possible therapeutic intervention for PD.
The Early-onset Torsion Dystonia-associated Protein, TorsinA, Displays Molecular Chaperone Activity in Vitro
Cell Stress & Chaperones. Sep, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20169475
TorsinA is a member of the AAA+ ATPase family of proteins and, notably, is the only known ATPase localized to the ER lumen. It has been suggested to act as a molecular chaperone, while a mutant form associated with early-onset torsion dystonia, a dominantly inherited movement disorder, appears to result in a net loss of function in vivo. Thus far, no studies have examined the chaperone activity of torsinA in vitro. Here we expressed and purified both wild-type (WT) and mutant torsinA fusion proteins in bacteria and examined their ability to function as molecular chaperones by monitoring suppression of luciferase and citrate synthase (CS) aggregation. We also assessed their ability to hold proteins in an intermediate state for refolding. As measured by light scattering and SDS-PAGE, both WT and mutant torsinA effectively, and similarly, suppressed protein aggregation compared to controls. This function was not further enhanced by the presence of ATP. Further, we found that while neither form of torsinA could protect CS from heat-induced inactivation, they were both able to reactivate luciferase when ATP and rabbit reticulocyte lysate were added. This suggests that torsinA holds luciferase in an intermediate state, which can then be refolded in the presence of other chaperones. These data provide conclusive evidence that torsinA acts as a molecular chaperone in vitro and suggests that early-onset torsion dystonia is likely not a consequence of a loss in torsinA chaperone activity but might be an outcome of insufficient torsinA localization at the ER to manage protein folding or trafficking.
Disease Models & Mechanisms. May-Jun, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20223934
Movement disorders represent a significant societal burden for which therapeutic options are limited and focused on treating disease symptomality. Early-onset torsion dystonia (EOTD) is one such disorder characterized by sustained and involuntary muscle contractions that frequently cause repetitive movements or abnormal postures. Transmitted in an autosomal dominant manner with reduced penetrance, EOTD is caused in most cases by the deletion of a glutamic acid (DeltaE) in the DYT1 (also known as TOR1A) gene product, torsinA. Although some patients respond well to anticholingerics, therapy is primarily limited to either neurosurgery or chemodenervation. As mutant torsinA (DeltaE) expression results in decreased torsinA function, therapeutic strategies directed toward enhancement of wild-type (WT) torsinA activity in patients who are heterozygous for mutant DYT1 may restore normal cellular functionality. Here, we report results from the first-ever screen for candidate small molecule therapeutics for EOTD, using multiple activity-based readouts for torsinA function in Caenorhabditis elegans, subsequent validation in human DYT1 patient fibroblasts, and behavioral rescue in a mouse model of DYT1 dystonia. We exploited the nematode to rapidly discern chemical effectors of torsinA and identified two classes of antibiotics, quinolones and aminopenicillins, which enhance WT torsinA activity in two separate in vivo assays. Representative molecules were assayed in EOTD patient fibroblasts for improvements in torsinA-dependent secretory function, which was improved significantly by ampicillin. Furthermore, a behavioral defect associated with an EOTD mouse knock-in model was also rescued following administration of ampicillin. These combined data indicate that specific small molecules that enhance torsinA activity represent a promising new approach toward therapeutic development for EOTD, and potentially for other diseases involving the processing of mutant proteins.
Low-dose Bafilomycin Attenuates Neuronal Cell Death Associated with Autophagy-lysosome Pathway Dysfunction
Journal of Neurochemistry. Aug, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20534000
We have shown previously that the plecomacrolide antibiotics bafilomycin A1 and B1 significantly attenuate cerebellar granule neuron death resulting from agents that disrupt lysosome function. To further characterize bafilomycin-mediated cytoprotection, we examined its ability to attenuate the death of naïve and differentiated neuronal SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells from agents that induce lysosome dysfunction in vitro, and from in vivo dopaminergic neuron death in C. elegans. Low-dose bafilomycin significantly attenuated SH-SY5Y cell death resulting from treatment with chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine amodiaquine and staurosporine. Bafilomycin also attenuated the chloroquine-induced reduction in processing of cathepsin D, the principal lysosomal aspartic acid protease, to its mature 'active' form. Chloroquine induced autophagic vacuole accumulation and inhibited autophagic flux, effects that were attenuated upon treatment with bafilomycin and were associated with a significant decrease in chloroquine-induced accumulation of detergent-insoluble alpha-synuclein oligomers. In addition, bafilomycin significantly and dose-dependently attenuated dopaminergic neuron death in C. elegans resulting from in vivo over-expression of human wild-type alpha-synuclein. Together, our findings suggest that low-dose bafilomycin is cytoprotective in part through its maintenance of the autophagy-lysosome pathway, and underscores its therapeutic potential for treating Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases that exhibit disruption of protein degradation pathways and accumulation of toxic protein species.
The Early-onset Torsion Dystonia-associated Protein, TorsinA, is a Homeostatic Regulator of Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Response
Human Molecular Genetics. Sep, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20584926
Early-onset torsion dystonia is the most severe heritable form of dystonia, a human movement disorder that typically starts during a developmental window in early adolescence. Deletion in the DYT1 gene, encoding the torsinA protein, is responsible for this dominantly inherited disorder, which is non-degenerative and exhibits reduced penetrance among carriers. Here, we explore the hypothesis that deficits in torsinA function result in an increased vulnerability to stress associated with protein folding and processing in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where torsinA is located. Using an in vivo quantitative readout for the ER stress response, we evaluated the consequences of torsinA mutations in transgenic nematodes expressing variants of human torsinA. This analysis revealed that, normally, torsinA serves a protective function to maintain a homeostatic threshold against ER stress. Furthermore, we show that the buffering capacity of torsinA is greatly diminished by the DYT1-associated deletion or mutations that prevent its translocation to the ER, block ATPase activity, or increase the levels of torsinA in the nuclear envelope versus ER. Combinations of transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans designed to mimic clinically relevant genetic modifiers of disease susceptibility also exhibit a direct functional correlation to changes in the ER stress response. Furthermore, using mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) from torsinA knockout mice, we demonstrated that loss of endogenous torsinA results in enhanced sensitivity to ER stress. This study extends our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying dystonia, and establishes a new functional paradigm to evaluate therapeutic strategies to compensate for reduced torsinA activity in the ER as a means to restore homeostatic balance and neuronal function.
Caenorhabditis Elegans As a Model System for Identifying Effectors of α-synuclein Misfolding and Dopaminergic Cell Death Associated with Parkinson's Disease
Methods (San Diego, Calif.). Mar, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21195766
Protein misfolding and aggregation are key pathological features observed in numerous neurodegenerative diseases, including the misfolding of α-synuclein (α-syn) in Parkinson's disease (PD) and β-amyloid in Alzheimer's disease. While this phenomenon is widely observed, the etiology and progression of these diseases is not fully understood. Furthermore, there is a lack of therapeutic treatments directed at halting the progression and neurodegeneration associated with these diseases. This demands a need for an inexpensive, easy to manipulate multicellular organism to conduct both genetic and chemical screens within to identify factors that may play a pivotal role in the pathology of these diseases. Herein, we describe methodology involved in identifying genetic modifiers of α-syn misfolding and toxicity in the nematode roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans. Transgenic nematodes engineered to express human α-syn in the body wall muscles or dopaminergic (DA) neurons result in formation of cytoplasmic puncta or DA neurodegeneration, respectively. Using these models, we describe the use of RNA interference (RNAi) and transgenic gene expression to functionally elucidate potential therapeutic gene targets that alter α-syn misfolding and DA neurotoxicity.
Gaucher Disease Glucocerebrosidase and α-synuclein Form a Bidirectional Pathogenic Loop in Synucleinopathies
Cell. Jul, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21700325
Parkinson's disease (PD), an adult neurodegenerative disorder, has been clinically linked to the lysosomal storage disorder Gaucher disease (GD), but the mechanistic connection is not known. Here, we show that functional loss of GD-linked glucocerebrosidase (GCase) in primary cultures or human iPS neurons compromises lysosomal protein degradation, causes accumulation of α-synuclein (α-syn), and results in neurotoxicity through aggregation-dependent mechanisms. Glucosylceramide (GlcCer), the GCase substrate, directly influenced amyloid formation of purified α-syn by stabilizing soluble oligomeric intermediates. We further demonstrate that α-syn inhibits the lysosomal activity of normal GCase in neurons and idiopathic PD brain, suggesting that GCase depletion contributes to the pathogenesis of sporadic synucleinopathies. These findings suggest that the bidirectional effect of α-syn and GCase forms a positive feedback loop that may lead to a self-propagating disease. Therefore, improved targeting of GCase to lysosomes may represent a specific therapeutic approach for PD and other synucleinopathies.
Nature Communications. 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21750546
TorsinA is an AAA+ ATPase located within the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum and nuclear envelope, with a mutant form causing early onset torsion dystonia (DYT1). Here we report a new function for torsinA in endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD). Retro-translocation and proteosomal degradation of a mutant cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTRΔF508) was inhibited by downregulation of torsinA or overexpression of mutant torsinA, and facilitated by increased torsinA. Retro-translocation of cholera toxin was also decreased by downregulation of torsinA. TorsinA associates with proteins implicated in ERAD, including Derlin-1, VIMP and p97. Further, torsinA reduces endoplasmic reticulum stress in nematodes overexpressing CFTRΔF508, and fibroblasts from DYT1 dystonia patients are more sensitive than controls to endoplasmic reticulum stress and less able to degrade mutant CFTR. Therefore, compromised ERAD function in the cells of DYT1 patients may increase sensitivity to endoplasmic reticulum stress with consequent alterations in neuronal function contributing to the disease state.
Inhibitors of LRRK2 Kinase Attenuate Neurodegeneration and Parkinson-like Phenotypes in Caenorhabditis Elegans and Drosophila Parkinson's Disease Models
Human Molecular Genetics. Oct, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21768216
Mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) have been identified as a genetic cause of familial Parkinson's disease (PD) and have also been found in the more common sporadic form of PD, thus positioning LRRK2 as important in the pathogenesis of PD. Biochemical studies of the disease-causing mutants of LRRK2 implicates an enhancement of kinase activity as the basis of neuronal toxicity and thus possibly the pathogenesis of PD due to LRRK2 mutations. Previously, a chemical library screen identified inhibitors of LRRK2 kinase activity. Here, two of these inhibitors, GW5074 and sorafenib, are shown to protect against G2019S LRRK2-induced neurodegeneration in vivo in Caenorhabditis elegans and in Drosophila. These findings indicate that increased kinase activity of LRRK2 is neurotoxic and that inhibition of LRRK2 activity can have a disease-modifying effect. This suggests that inhibition of LRRK2 holds promise as a treatment for PD.
Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21913098
Ongoing investigations into causes and cures for human movement disorders are important toward the elucidation of diseases, such as Parkinson's disease (PD). The use of animal model systems can provide links to susceptibility factors as well as therapeutic interventions. In this regard, the nematode roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans, is ideal for age-dependent neurodegenerative disease studies. It is genetically tractable, has a short life span, and a well-defined nervous system. Fluorescent markers, like GFP, are readily visualized in C. elegans as it is a transparent organism; thus the nervous system, and factors that alter the viability of neurons, can be directly examined in vivo. Through expression of the human disease protein, alpha-synuclein, in the worm dopamine neurons, neurodegeneration is observed in an age-dependent manner. Furthermore, application of a dopamine neurotoxin, 6-hydroxy-dopamine, provides another independent model of PD. Described herein are techniques for C. elegans transformation to evaluate candidate neuroprotective gene targets, integration of the extrachromosomal arrays, genetic crosses, and methods for dopamine neuron analysis that are applicable to both types of neurotoxicity. These techniques can be exploited to assess both chemical and genetic modifiers of toxicity, providing additional avenues to advance PD-related discoveries.
Functional Links Between Aβ Toxicity, Endocytic Trafficking, and Alzheimer's Disease Risk Factors in Yeast
Science (New York, N.Y.). Dec, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 22033521
Aβ (beta-amyloid peptide) is an important contributor to Alzheimer's disease (AD). We modeled Aβ toxicity in yeast by directing the peptide to the secretory pathway. A genome-wide screen for toxicity modifiers identified the yeast homolog of phosphatidylinositol binding clathrin assembly protein (PICALM) and other endocytic factors connected to AD whose relationship to Aβ was previously unknown. The factors identified in yeast modified Aβ toxicity in glutamatergic neurons of Caenorhabditis elegans and in primary rat cortical neurons. In yeast, Aβ impaired the endocytic trafficking of a plasma membrane receptor, which was ameliorated by endocytic pathway factors identified in the yeast screen. Thus, links between Aβ, endocytosis, and human AD risk factors can be ascertained with yeast as a model system.
Different 8-Hydroxyquinolines Protect Models of TDP-43 Protein, α-Synuclein, and Polyglutamine Proteotoxicity Through Distinct Mechanisms
The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Feb, 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22147697
No current therapies target the underlying cellular pathologies of age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Model organisms provide a platform for discovering compounds that protect against the toxic, misfolded proteins that initiate these diseases. One such protein, TDP-43, is implicated in multiple neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. In yeast, TDP-43 expression is toxic, and genetic modifiers first discovered in yeast have proven to modulate TDP-43 toxicity in both neurons and humans. Here, we describe a phenotypic screen for small molecules that reverse TDP-43 toxicity in yeast. One group of hit compounds was 8-hydroxyquinolines (8-OHQ), a class of clinically relevant bioactive metal chelators related to clioquinol. Surprisingly, in otherwise wild-type yeast cells, different 8-OHQs had selectivity for rescuing the distinct toxicities caused by the expression of TDP-43, α-synuclein, or polyglutamine proteins. In fact, each 8-OHQ synergized with the other, clearly establishing that they function in different ways. Comparative growth and molecular analyses also revealed that 8-OHQs have distinct metal chelation and ionophore activities. The diverse bioactivity of 8-OHQs indicates that altering different aspects of metal homeostasis and/or metalloprotein activity elicits distinct protective mechanisms against several neurotoxic proteins. Indeed, phase II clinical trials of an 8-OHQ has produced encouraging results in modifying Alzheimer disease. Our unbiased identification of 8-OHQs in a yeast TDP-43 toxicity model suggests that tailoring 8-OHQ activity to a particular neurodegenerative disease may be a viable therapeutic strategy.
Functional Analysis of VPS41-Mediated Neuroprotection in Caenorhabditis Elegans and Mammalian Models of Parkinson's Disease
The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience. Feb, 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22323726
Disruption of the lysosomal system has emerged as a key cellular pathway in the neurotoxicity of α-synuclein (α-syn) and the progression of Parkinson's disease (PD). A large-scale RNA interference (RNAi) screen using Caenorhabditis elegans identified VPS-41, a multidomain protein involved in lysosomal protein trafficking, as a modifier of α-syn accumulation and dopaminergic neuron degeneration (Hamamichi et al., 2008). Previous studies have shown a conserved neuroprotective function of human VPS41 (hVPS41) against PD-relevant toxins in mammalian cells and C. elegans neurons (Ruan et al., 2010). Here, we report that both the AP-3 (heterotetrameric adaptor protein complex) interaction domain and clathrin heavy-chain repeat domain are required for protecting C. elegans dopaminergic neurons from α-syn-induced neurodegeneration, as well as to prevent α-syn inclusion formation in an H4 human neuroglioma cell model. Using mutant C. elegans and neuron-specific RNAi, we revealed that hVPS41 requires both a functional AP-3 (heterotetrameric adaptor protein complex) and HOPS (homotypic fusion and vacuole protein sorting)-tethering complex to elicit neuroprotection. Interestingly, two nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms found within the AP-3 interacting domain of hVPS41 attenuated the neuroprotective property, suggestive of putative susceptibility factors for PD. Furthermore, we observed a decrease in α-syn protein level when hVPS41 was overexpressed in human neuroglioma cells. Thus, the neuroprotective capacity of hVPS41 may be a consequence of enhanced clearance of misfolded and aggregated proteins, including toxic α-syn species. These data reveal the importance of lysosomal trafficking in maintaining cellular homeostasis in the presence of enhanced α-syn expression and toxicity. Our results support hVPS41 as a potential novel therapeutic target for the treatment of synucleinopathies like PD.