The polarization of neurons, which mainly includes the differentiation of axons and dendrites, is regulated by cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous factors. In the developing central nervous system, neuronal development occurs in a heterogeneous environment that also comprises extracellular matrices, radial glial cells, and neurons. Although many cell-autonomous factors that affect neuronal polarization have been identified, the microenvironmental cues involved in neuronal polarization remain largely unknown. Here, we show that neuronal polarization occurs in a microenvironment in the lower intermediate zone, where the cell adhesion molecule transient axonal glycoprotein-1 (TAG-1) is expressed in cortical efferent axons. The immature neurites of multipolar cells closely contact TAG-1-positive axons and generate axons. Inhibition of TAG-1-mediated cell-to-cell interaction or its downstream kinase Lyn impairs neuronal polarization. These results show that the TAG-1-mediated cell-to-cell interaction between the unpolarized multipolar cells and the pioneering axons regulates the polarization of multipolar cells partly through Lyn kinase and Rac1.
Syntaxin-1A is a t-SNARE that is involved in vesicle docking and vesicle fusion; it is important in presynaptic exocytosis in neurons because it interacts with many regulatory proteins. Previously, we found the following: 1) that autophosphorylated Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), an important modulator of neural plasticity, interacts with syntaxin-1A to regulate exocytosis, and 2) that a syntaxin missense mutation (R151G) attenuated this interaction. To determine more precisely the physiological importance of this interaction between CaMKII and syntaxin, we generated mice with a knock-in (KI) syntaxin-1A (R151G) mutation. Complexin is a molecular clamp involved in exocytosis, and in the KI mice, recruitment of complexin to the SNARE complex was reduced because of an abnormal CaMKII/syntaxin interaction. Nevertheless, SNARE complex formation was not inhibited, and consequently, basal neurotransmission was normal. However, the KI mice did exhibit more enhanced presynaptic plasticity than wild-type littermates; this enhanced plasticity could be associated with synaptic response than did wild-type littermates; this pronounced response included several behavioral abnormalities. Notably, the R151G phenotypes were generally similar to previously reported CaMKII mutant phenotypes. Additionally, synaptic recycling in these KI mice was delayed, and the density of synaptic vesicles was reduced. Taken together, our results indicated that this single point mutation in syntaxin-1A causes abnormal regulation of neuronal plasticity and vesicle recycling and that the affected syntaxin-1A/CaMKII interaction is essential for normal brain and synaptic functions in vivo.
Neural progenitors exhibit cell cycle-dependent interkinetic nuclear migration (INM) along the apicobasal axis. Despite recent advances in understanding its underlying molecular mechanisms, the processes to which INM contributes mechanically and the regulation of INM by the apicobasally elongated morphology of progenitors remain unclear. We found that knockdown of the cell-surface molecule TAG-1 resulted in retraction of neocortical progenitors basal processes. Highly shortened stem-like progenitors failed to undergo basalward INM and became overcrowded in the periventricular (subapical) space. Surprisingly, the overcrowded progenitors left the apical surface and migrated into basal neuronal territories. These observations, together with the results of in toto imaging and physical tests, suggest that progenitors may sense and respond to excessive mechanical stress. Although, unexpectedly, the heterotopic progenitors remained stem-like and continued to sequentially produce neurons until the late embryonic period, histogenesis was severely disrupted. Thus, INM is essential for preventing overcrowding of nuclei and their somata, thereby ensuring normal brain histogenesis.
Extracellular factors that inhibit axon growth and intrinsic factors that promote it affect neural regeneration. Therapies targeting any single gene have not yet simultaneously optimized both types of factors. Chondroitin sulphate (CS), a glycosaminoglycan, is the most abundant extracellular inhibitor of axon growth. Here we show that mice carrying a gene knockout for CS N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase-1 (T1), a key enzyme in CS biosynthesis, recover more completely from spinal cord injury than wild-type mice and even chondroitinase ABC-treated mice. Notably, synthesis of heparan sulphate (HS), a glycosaminoglycan promoting axonal growth, is also upregulated in TI knockout mice because HS-synthesis enzymes are induced in the mutant neurons. Moreover, chondroitinase ABC treatment never induces HS upregulation. Taken together, our results indicate that regulation of a single gene, T1, mediates excellent recovery from spinal cord injury by optimizing counteracting effectors of axon regeneration--an extracellular inhibitor of CS and intrinsic promoters, namely, HS-synthesis enzymes.
Claudins (Cldn) are essential membrane proteins of tight junctions (TJs), which form the paracellular permselective barrier. They are produced by a multi-gene family of 24 reported members in mouse and human. Based on a comprehensive search combined with phylogenetic analyses, we identified three novel claudins (claudin-25, -26, and -27). Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that the three novel claudins were expressed in a tissue- and/or developmental stage-dependent manner. Claudins-25 and -26, but not claudin-27, were immunofluorescently localized to TJs when exogenously expressed in cultured MDCK and Eph epithelial cell lines. These findings expand the claudin family to include at least 27 members.
The growth cone plays crucial roles in neural wiring, synapse formation, and axonal regeneration. Continuous rearrangement of cytoskeletal elements and targeting of transported vesicles to the plasma membrane are essential to growth cone motility; however, the proteins directly involved in these processes and their specific functions are not well established. We recently identified 17 proteins as functional marker proteins of the mammalian growth cone and as neuronal growth-associated proteins in rat cortical neurons (nGAPs; Nozumi et al., 2009). To determine whether these 17 proteins are growth cone markers in other neuronal cell types, we examined their expression and function in PC12D cells. We found that all 17 nGAPs were highly concentrated in the growth cones of PC12D cells, and that knockdown of all of them by RNAi reduced or inhibited neurite outgrowth, indicating that all of the 17 nGAPs may be general growth cone markers. Among them, eight proteins were shown to regulate the amount of F-actin in PC12D growth cones. Two of these nGAP that are cytoskeletal proteins, Cap1 and Sept2, increased the mean growth cone area and the mean neurite length by regulating the amount of F-actin; Sept2 also induced filopodial growth. Taken together, our data suggested that some of the nGAPs were generalized markers of the growth cone in multiple neuronal cell types and some of them, such as Cap1 and Sept2, regulated growth cone morphology through rearrangement of F-actin and thereby controlled neurite outgrowth.
CS (chondroitin sulfate) is a glycosaminoglycan species that is widely distributed in the extracellular matrix. To understand the physiological roles of enzymes involved in CS synthesis, we produced CSGalNAcT1 (CS N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 1)-null mice. CS production was reduced by approximately half in CSGalNAcT1-null mice, and the amount of short-chain CS was also reduced. Moreover, the cartilage of the null mice was significantly smaller than that of wild-type mice. Additionally, type-II collagen fibres in developing cartilage were abnormally aggregated and disarranged in the homozygous mutant mice. These results suggest that CSGalNAcT1 is required for normal CS production in developing cartilage.
Identification of proteins in the mammalian growth cone has the potential to advance our understanding of this critical regulator of neuronal growth and formation of neural circuit; however, to date, only one growth cone marker protein, GAP-43, has been reported. Here, we successfully used a proteomic approach to identify 945 proteins present in developing rat forebrain growth cones, including highly abundant, membrane-associated and actin-associated proteins. Almost 100 of the proteins appear to be highly enriched in the growth cone, as determined by quantitative immunostaining, and for 17 proteins, the results of RNAi suggest a role in axon growth. Most of the proteins we identified have not previously been implicated in axon growth and thus their identification presents a significant step forward, providing marker proteins and candidate neuronal growth-associated proteins.
The Tob/BTG family is a group of antiproliferative proteins containing two highly homologous regions, Box A and Box B. These proteins all associate with CCR4-associated factor 1 (Caf1), which belongs to the ribonuclease D (RNase D) family of deadenylases and is a component of the CCR4-Not deadenylase complex. Here we determined the crystal structure of the complex of the N-terminal region of Tob and human Caf1 (hCaf1). Tob exhibited a novel fold, whereas hCaf1 most closely resembled the catalytic domain of yeast Pop2 and human poly(A)-specific ribonuclease. Interestingly, the association of hCaf1 was mediated by both Box A and Box B of Tob. Cell growth assays using both wild-type and mutant proteins revealed that deadenylase activity of Caf1 is not critical but complex formation is crucial to cell growth inhibition. Caf1 tethers Tob to the CCR4-Not deadenylase complex, and thereby Tob gathers several factors at its C-terminal region, such as poly(A)-binding proteins, to exert antiproliferative activity.
The spinal nerve, which is composed of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) axons and spinal motor axons, divides into ventral and dorsal rami. Although the development of the ventral ramus has been examined in considerable detail, that of the dorsal ramus has not. Therefore, we first examined the spatial-temporal pattern of the dorsal ramus formation in the chick embryo, with special reference to the projection to the dermamyotome and its derivatives. Next, we focused on two guidance molecules, chick semaphorin 3A (SEMA3A) and fibroblast growth factor 8 (FGF8), because these are the best candidates as molecules for controlling the dorsal ramus formation. Using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry methods, we clearly showed a close relationship between the spatial-temporal expression of SEMA3A/FGF8 and the projection of dorsal ramus fibers to the dorsal muscles. We further examined the axonal response of motor and DRG neurons to SEMA3A and FGF8. We showed that motor axons responded to both SEMA3A-induced repulsion and FGF8-induced attraction. On the other hand, DRG axons responded to SEMA3A-induced repulsion but not to FGF8-induced attraction. These findings suggest that FGF8-induced attraction may guide early motor axons beneath the myotome and that SEMA3A-induced repulsion may prevent these early motor axons from entering the myotome. Our results also imply that the loss of SEMA3A expression in the dorsal muscles may lead to the gross projection of the dorsal ramus fibers into the dorsal muscles. Together, SEMA3A and FGF8 may contribute to the proper formation of the dorsal ramus.
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