Age-related cognitive decline is a serious health concern in our aging society. Decreased cognitive function observed during healthy brain aging is most likely caused by changes in brain connectivity and synaptic dysfunction in particular brain regions. Here we show that aged C57BL/6J wild-type mice have hippocampus-dependent spatial memory impairments. To identify the molecular mechanisms that are relevant to these memory deficits, we investigated the temporal profile of mouse hippocampal synaptic proteome changes at 20, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 weeks of age. Extracellular matrix proteins were the only group of proteins that showed robust and progressive up-regulation over time. This was confirmed by immunoblotting and histochemical analysis, which indicated that the increased levels of hippocampal extracellular matrix might limit synaptic plasticity as a potential cause of age-related cognitive decline. In addition, we observed that stochasticity in synaptic protein expression increased with age, in particular for proteins that were previously linked with various neurodegenerative diseases, whereas low variance in expression was observed for proteins that play a basal role in neuronal function and synaptic neurotransmission. Together, our findings show that both specific changes and increased variance in synaptic protein expression are associated with aging and may underlie reduced synaptic plasticity and impaired cognitive performance in old age.
Rolandic epilepsy (RE) and its atypical variants (atypical rolandic epilepsy, ARE) along the spectrum of epilepsy-aphasia disorders are characterized by a strong but largely unknown genetic basis. Two genes with a putative (ELP4) or a proven (SRPX2) function in neuronal migration were postulated to confer susceptibility to parts of the disease spectrum: the ELP4 gene to centrotemporal spikes and SRPX2 to ARE. To reexamine these findings, we investigated a cohort of 280 patients of European ancestry with RE/ARE for the etiological contribution of these genes and their close interaction partners. We performed next-generation sequencing and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-array based genotyping to screen for sequence and structural variants. In comparison to European controls we could not detect an enrichment of rare deleterious variants of ELP4, SRPX2, or their interaction partners in affected individuals. The previously described functional p.N327S variant in the X chromosomal SRPX2 gene was detected in two affected individuals (0.81%) and also in controls (0.26%), with some preponderance of male patients. We did not detect an association of SNPs in the ELP4 gene with centrotemporal spikes as previously reported. In conclusion our data do not support a major role of ELP4 and SRPX2 in the etiology of RE/ARE.
Cellular differentiation and reprogramming are processes that are carefully orchestrated by the activation and repression of specific sets of genes. An increasing amount of experimental results show that despite the large number of genes participating in transcriptional programs of cellular phenotypes, only few key genes, which are coined here as reprogramming determinants, are required to be directly perturbed in order to induce cellular reprogramming. However, identification of reprogramming determinants still remains a combinatorial problem, and the state-of-art methods addressing this issue rests on exhaustive experimentation or prior knowledge to narrow down the list of candidates.
Parkinsons disease (PD) is a major neurodegenerative chronic disease, most likely caused by a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Information on various aspects of PD pathogenesis is rapidly increasing and needs to be efficiently organized, so that the resulting data is available for exploration and analysis. Here we introduce a computationally tractable, comprehensive molecular interaction map of PD. This map integrates pathways implicated in PD pathogenesis such as synaptic and mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired protein degradation, alpha-synuclein pathobiology and neuroinflammation. We also present bioinformatics tools for the analysis, enrichment and annotation of the map, allowing the research community to open new avenues in PD research. The PD map is accessible at http://minerva.uni.lu/pd_map .
The paper presents a model for simulating the protein folding process in silico. The two-step model (which consists of the early stage-ES and the late stage-LS) is verified using two proteins, one of which is treated (according to experimental observations) as the early stage and the second as an example of the LS step. The early stage is based solely on backbone structural preferences, while the LS model takes into account the water environment, treated as an external hydrophobic force field and represented by a 3D Gauss function. The characteristics of 1ZTR (the ES intermediate, as compared with 1ENH, which is the LS intermediate) confirm the link between the gradual disappearance of ES characteristics in LS structural forms and the simultaneous emergence of LS properties in the 1ENH protein. Positive verification of ES and LS characteristics in these two proteins (1ZTR and 1ENH respectively) suggest potential applicability of the presented model to in silico protein folding simulations.
Mutations in proteins introduce structural changes and influence biological activity: the specific effects depend on the location of the mutation. The simple method proposed in the present paper is based on a two-step model of in silico protein folding. The structure of the first intermediate is assumed to be determined solely by backbone conformation. The structure of the second one is assumed to be determined by the presence of a hydrophobic center. The comparable structural analysis of the set of mutants is performed to identify the mutant-induced structural changes. The changes of the hydrophobic core organization measured by the divergence entropy allows quantitative comparison estimating the relative structural changes upon mutation. The set of antifreeze proteins, which appeared to represent the hydrophobic core structure accordant with "fuzzy oil drop" model was selected for analysis.
CD46 is a C3b/C4b binding complement regulator and a receptor for several human pathogens. We examined the interaction between CD46 and Helicobacter pylori (a bacterium that colonizes the human gastric mucosa and causes gastritis), peptic ulcers, and cancer.
Galanin is a neuropeptide found throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems of a wide range of species, ranging from human and mouse to frog and tuna. Galanin mediates its physiological roles through three receptors (GalR1-3), all members of the G-protein coupled receptor family. In mapping these roles, receptor subtype selective ligands are crucial tools. To facilitate the ligand design, data on receptor structure and interaction points are of great importance. The current study investigates the mechanism by which galanin interacts with GalR3. Mutated receptors were tested with competitive binding analysis in vitro. Our studies identify six mutagenic constructs that lost receptor affinity completely, despite being expressed at the cell surface. Mutations of the Tyr103(3.33) in transmembrane helix (TM) III, His251(6.51) in TM VI, Arg273(7.35) or His277(7.39) in TM VII, Phe263(6.63) or Tyr270(7.32) in the extracellular loop III all result in complete reduction of ligand binding. In addition, docking studies of an in silico model of GalR3 propose that four of the identified residues interact with pharmacophores situated within the galanin(2-6) sequence. This study provides novel insights into the interaction between ligands and GalR3 and highlights the requirement for correct design of targeting ligands.
One possible origin of the type I hypersensitivity reaction is reaction of drugs such as acetylsalicylic acid and its metabolites being complexed with human serum albumin. Albumin, being transporting molecule abundant in blood plasma is able to bind large array of ligands varying from small single carbon particles to long hydrophobic tailed lipidic acids (e.g. myristic acid). This non specificity is possible because of multi domain scaffold and large flexibility of inter-domain loops, which results in serious reorientation of domains. Hypothesis that acetylsalicylic acid metabolites may play indirect role in activation of allergic reaction has been tested. Binding of acetylsalicylic acid metabolites in intra-domain space causes significant increase of liability of domains IIIA and IIIB. One of metabolites, salicyluric acid, once is bound causes distortion and partial unfolding of helices in domains IA, IIB and IIIB. Changed are both directions and amplitude of relative motions as well as intra-domain distances. In result albumin is able to cross-link of adjacent IgE receptors which subsequently starts allergic reaction.
The galanin receptor family comprises of three members, GalR1, GalR2 and GalR3, all belonging to the G-protein-couple receptor superfamily. All three receptors bind the peptide hormone galanin, but show distinctly different binding properties to other molecules and effects on intracellular signaling. To gain insight on the molecular basis of receptor subtype specificity, we have generated a three-dimensional model for each of the galanin receptors based on its homologs in the same family. We found significant differences in the organization of the binding pockets among the three types of receptors, which might be the key for specific molecular recognition of ligands. Through docking of fragments of the galanin peptide and a number of ligands, we investigated the involvement of transmembrane and loop residues in ligand interaction.
The activation of immune cells in the brain is believed to be one of the earliest events in prion disease development, where misfolded PrionSc protein deposits are thought to act as irritants leading to a series of events that culminate in neuronal cell dysfunction and death. The role of these events in prion disease though is still a matter of debate. To elucidate the mechanisms leading from abnormal protein deposition to neuronal injury, we have performed a detailed network analysis of genes differentially expressed in several mouse prion models.
The Na,K-ATPase is essential to all animals, since it maintains the electrochemical gradients that energize the plasma membrane. Naturally occurring inhibitors of the pump from plants have been used pharmaceutically in cardiac treatment for centuries. The inhibitors block the pump by binding on its extracellular side and thereby locking it. To explore the possibilities for designing an alternative way of targeting the pump function, we have examined the structural requirements for binding to a pocket that accommodates the two C-terminal residues, YY, in the crystal structures of the pump. To cover the sample space of two residues, we first performed docking studies with the 400 possible dipeptides. For validation of the in silico predictions, pumps with 13 dipeptide sequences replacing the C-terminal YY were expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes and examined with electrophysiology. Our data show a significant correlation between the docking scores from two different methods and the experimentally determined sodium affinities, which strengthens the previous hypothesis that sodium binding is coupled to docking of the C-terminus. From the dipeptides that dock the best and better than wild-type YY, it may therefore be possible to develop specific drugs targeting a previously unexplored binding pocket in the sodium pump.
Two voltage-dependent potassium channels, Kv1.1 (KCNA1) and Kv1.2 (KCNA2), are found to co-localize at the juxtaparanodal region of axons throughout the nervous system and are known to co-assemble in heteromultimeric channels, most likely in the form of the concatemer Kv1.1-1.2((3)) . Loss of the myelin sheath, as is observed in multiple sclerosis, uncovers the juxtaparanodal region of nodes of Ranvier in myelinated axons leading to potassium conductance, resulting in loss of nerve conduction. The selective blocking of these Kv channels is therefore a promising approach to restore nerve conduction and function. In the present study, we searched for novel inhibitors of Kv1.1-1.2((3)) by combining a virtual screening protocol and electrophysiological measurements on a concatemer Kv1.1-1.2((3)) stably expressed in Chinese hamster ovary K1 (CHO-K1) cells. The combined use of four popular virtual screening approaches (eHiTS, FlexX, Glide, and Autodock-Vina) led to the identification of several compounds as potential inhibitors of the Kv1.1-1.2((3)) channel. From 89 electrophysiologically evaluated compounds, 14 novel compounds were found to inhibit the current carried by Kv1.1-1.2((3)) channels by more than 80 % at 10 ?M. Accordingly, the IC(50) values calculated from concentration-response curve titrations ranged from 0.6 to 6 ?M. Two of these compounds exhibited at least 30-fold higher potency in inhibition of Kv1.1-1.2((3)) than they showed in inhibition of a set of cardiac ion channels (hERG, Nav1.5, and Cav1.2), resulting in a profile of selectivity and cardiac safety. The results presented herein provide a promising basis for the development of novel selective ion channel inhibitors, with a dramatically lower demand in terms of experimental time, effort, and cost than a sole high-throughput screening approach of large compound libraries.
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