DJ-1, the product of a causative gene of a familial form of Parkinson disease, undergoes preferential oxidation of Cys106 (cysteine residue at position 106) under oxidative stress. Using specific monoclonal antibodies against Cys106 oxidized DJ-1 (oxDJ-1), we examined oxDJ-1 immunoreactivity in brain sections from DJ-1 knockout and wild-type mice and in human brain sections from cases classified into different Lewy body stages of Parkinson disease and Parkinson disease with dementia. Oxidized DJ-1 immunoreactivity was prominently observed in neuromelanin-containing neurons and neuron processes of the substantia nigra; Lewy bodies also showed oxDJ-1 immunoreactivity. Oxidized DJ-1 was also detected in astrocytes in the striatum, in neurons and glia in the red nucleus, and in the inferior olivary nucleus, all of which are related to regulation of movement. These observations suggest the relevance of DJ-1 oxidation to homeostasis in multiple brain regions, including neuromelanin-containing neurons of the substantia nigra, and raise the possibility that oxDJ-1 levels might change during the progression of Lewy body-associated neurodegenerative diseases.
Microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2) and Tau are abundant neuronal microtubule-associated proteins. Both proteins have highly homologous carboxyl-terminal sequences that function as microtubule-binding domains. Whereas Tau is widely accepted as a pathoetiological factor in human tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), it is not known whether there is a relationship between MAP2 and tauopathy. To better understand the pathological roles of MAP2 and Tau, we compared their behaviors in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans in which MAP2 or Tau was expressed pan-neuronally. Both MAP2 and Tau elicited severe neuronal dysfunction and neuritic abnormalities, despite the absence of detergent-insoluble aggregates in worm neurons. Biochemical analysis revealed that the expressed MAP2 or Tau in worms was highly phosphorylated and did not bind to microtubules. Newly raised antibodies to MAP2 that effectively distinguished between the highly homologous carboxyl-terminal sequences of MAP2 and Tau showed that MAP2 was not involved in the growth process of neurofibrillary tangles in the AD brain. These results indicate that Tau and MAP2 have different fates in the inclusion formation and raise the possibility that MAP2 plays a significant role in neurotoxicity in the AD brain despite the absence of MAP2-aggregates.
Understanding the substrate recognition mechanism of ?-secretase is a key step for establishing substrate-specific inhibition of amyloid ?-protein (A?) production. However, it is widely believed that ?-secretase is a promiscuous protease and that its substrate-specific inhibition is elusive. Here we show that ?-secretase distinguishes the ectodomain length of substrates and preferentially captures and cleaves substrates containing a short ectodomain. We also show that a subset of peptides containing the CDCYCxxxxCxCxSC motif binds to the amino terminus of C99 and inhibits A? production in a substrate-specific manner. Interestingly, these peptides suppress ?-secretase-dependent cleavage of APP, but not that of sialyltransferase 1. Most importantly, intraperitoneal administration of peptides into mice results in a significant reduction in cerebral A? levels. This report provides direct evidence of the substrate preference of ?-secretase and its mechanism. Our results demonstrate that the ectodomain of C99 is a potent target for substrate-specific anti-A? therapeutics to combat Alzheimers disease.
CapnCollar (CNC) proteins heterodimerize with small Maf proteins and regulate the transcription of various genes. Small Maf-deficient mice develop severe neurodegeneration, and it remains unclear whether CNC proteins are involved in this process. In this study, we examined the contribution of Nrf1, one of the CNC proteins, to neuronal homeostasis in vivo. As Nrf1 gene knockout mice are embryonic lethal, we developed a central nervous system (CNS)-specific Nrf1 knockout (CKO) mouse line using mice bearing an Nrf1(flox) allele and Nestin-Cre allele. At birth, the CKO mice appeared indistinguishable from control mice, but thereafter they showed progressive motor ataxia and severe weight loss. All Nrf1 CKO mice died within 3 weeks. These phenotypes are similar to those reported in small Maf-deficient mice, suggesting the presence of collaboration between Nrf1 and small Maf proteins. We also found aberrant accumulation of polyubiquitinated proteins in various CNS regions and apparent neuronal loss in the hippocampus of Nrf1 CKO mice. An oxidative stress marker was accumulated in the spinal cords of the mice, but the expression patterns of oxidative stress response genes regulated by Nrf2 did not change substantially. These results show that Nrf1 sustains the CNS homeostasis through regulating target genes distinct from those regulated by Nrf2.
Neurofibrillary tangle-bearing neurons, a pathological hallmark of Alzheimers disease, are mostly devoid of normal microtubule (MT) structure and instead have paired helical filaments that are composed of abnormal hyperphosphorylated tau. However, a causal relationship between tau phosphorylation and MT disruption has not been clarified. To examine whether MT disruption induces tau phosphorylation, stathmin, an MT-disrupting protein, was co-expressed with tau in COS-7 cells. Stathmin expression induced apparent MT catastrophe and tau hyperphosphorylation at Thr-181, Ser-202, Thr-205, and Thr-231 sites. In contrast, c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation, or phosphatase inhibition, led to significant tau phosphorylation without affecting MT structure. These findings suggest that MT disruption induces subsequent tau phosphorylation.
DJ-1, the causative gene of a familial form of Parkinsons disease (PD), has been reported undergo oxidation preferentially at the 106th cysteine residue (Cys-106) under oxidative stress. Recently, it has been found that the levels of oxidized DJ-1 in erythrocytes of unmedicated PD patients are markedly higher than those in medicated PD patients and healthy subjects. In the present study, we examined the changes in oxidized DJ-1 levels in the brain and erythrocytes of PD animal models using specific antibodies against Cys-106-oxidized DJ-1. Treatment with PD model compounds such as 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) and 6-hydroxydopamine significantly elevated the levels of oxidized DJ-1 in erythrocytes. Immunohistochemical analysis also revealed that the number of oxidized DJ-1 antibody-positive cells in the substantia nigra of MPTP-treated mouse increased in a dose-dependent manner. These results suggest that the oxidative modification of DJ-1 in the brain and erythrocytes is involved in the pathogenesis of PD in animal models.
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