Experience-induced changes in GABAergic interneurons (INs) are thought to control the plasticity of neural circuits in the developing and adult cortex. However, it remains poorly understood how experience and the ensuing neuronal activity alter the properties and connectivity of specific IN subtypes and how these cellular changes, in turn, control the plasticity of cortical circuits. Here, I discuss recent experimental and theoretical studies that point to specific experience-induced changes in select IN subtypes as central regulators of plasticity in the cortex. In particular, I focus on the recent identification of several experience-regulated secreted molecules that modulate specific sets of synapses in IN subtypes. I argue that elucidating these molecular mechanisms will allow us to test experimentally the predictions made by theoretical models about the plasticity functions of specific IN subtypes.
Microglia play a key role in innate immunity in Alzheimer disease (AD), but their role as antigen-presenting cells is as yet unclear. Here we found that amyloid beta peptide (A beta-specific T helper 1 (A beta-Th1 cells) T cells polarized to secrete interferon-gamma and intracerebroventricularly (ICV) injected to the 5XFAD mouse model of AD induced the differentiation of major histocompatibility complex class II (MHCII)+ microglia with distinct morphology and enhanced plaque clearance capacity than MHCII- microglia. Notably, 5XFAD mice lacking MHCII exhibited an enhanced amyloid pathology in the brain along with exacerbated innate inflammation and reduced phagocytic capacity. Using a bone marrow chimera mouse model, we showed that infiltrating macrophages did not differentiate to MHCII+ cells following ICV injection of A beta-Th 1 cells and did not support T cell-mediated amyloid clearance. Overall, we demonstrate that CD4 T cells induce a P2ry12+ MHCII+ subset of microglia, which play a key role in T cell-mediated effector functions that abrogate AD-like pathology.
Understanding how body weight is regulated at the molecular level is essential for treating obesity. We show that female mice genetically lacking protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) receptor type α (PTPRA) exhibit reduced weight and adiposity and increased energy expenditure, and are more resistant to diet-induced obesity than matched wild-type control mice. These mice also exhibit reduced levels of circulating leptin and are leptin hypersensitive, suggesting that PTPRA inhibits leptin signaling in the hypothalamus. Male and female PTPRA-deficient mice fed a high-fat diet were leaner and displayed increased metabolic rates and lower circulating leptin levels, indicating that the effects of loss of PTPRA persist in the obese state. Molecularly, PTPRA down-regulates leptin receptor signaling by dephosphorylating the receptor-associated kinase JAK2, with which the phosphatase associates constitutively. In contrast to the closely related tyrosine phosphatase ε, leptin induces only weak phosphorylation of PTPRA at its C-terminal regulatory site Y789, and this does not affect the activity of PTPRA toward JAK2. PTPRA is therefore an inhibitor of hypothalamic leptin signaling in vivo and may prevent premature activation of leptin signaling, as well as return signaling to baseline after exposure to leptin.-Cohen-Sharir, Y., Kuperman, Y., Apelblat, D., den Hertog, J., Spiegel, I., Knobler, H., Elson, A. Protein tyrosine phosphatase alpha inhibits hypothalamic leptin receptor signaling and regulates body weight in vivo.
Experience leaves a lasting mark on neural circuit function in part through activity-regulated gene (ARG) expression. New genome wide approaches have revealed that ARG programs are highly cell-type-specific, raising the possibility that they mediate different forms of experience-dependent plasticity in different cell types. The cell-type specificity of these gene programs is achieved by a combination of cell-intrinsic mechanisms that determine the transcriptional response of each neuronal subtype to a given stimulus and by cell-extrinsic mechanisms that influence the nature of the stimulus a cell receives. A better understanding of these mechanisms could usher in an era of molecular systems neuroscience in which genetic perturbations of cell-type-specific plasticities are assessed using electrophysiology and in vivo imaging to reveal the neural basis of adaptive behaviors.
A wealth of data has elucidated the mechanisms by which sensory inputs are encoded in the neocortex, but how these processes are regulated by the behavioral relevance of sensory information is less understood. Here, we focus on neocortical layer 1 (L1), a key location for processing of such top-down information. Using Neuron-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (NDNF) as a selective marker of L1 interneurons (INs) and in vivo 2-photon calcium imaging, electrophysiology, viral tracing, optogenetics, and associative memory, we find that L1 NDNF-INs mediate a prolonged form of inhibition in distal pyramidal neuron dendrites that correlates with the strength of the memory trace. Conversely, inhibition from Martinotti cells remains unchanged after conditioning but in turn tightly controls sensory responses in NDNF-INs. These results define a genetically addressable form of dendritic inhibition that is highly experience dependent and indicate that in addition to disinhibition, salient stimuli are encoded at elevated levels of distal dendritic inhibition. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
Sensory stimuli drive the maturation and function of the mammalian nervous system in part through the activation of gene expression networks that regulate synapse development and plasticity. These networks have primarily been studied in mice, and it is not known whether there are species-or clade-specific activity-regulated genes that control features of brain development and function. Here we use transcriptional profiling of human fetal brain cultures to identify an activity-dependent secreted factor, Osteocrin (OSTN), that is induced by membrane depolarization of human but not mouse neurons. We find that OSTN has been repurposed in primates through the evolutionary acquisition of DNA regulatory elements that bind the activity-regulated transcription factor MEF2. In addition, we demonstrate that OSTN is expressed in primate neocortex and restricts activity-dependent dendritic growth in human neurons. These findings suggest that, in response to sensory input, OSTN regulates features of neuronal structure and function that are unique to primates.
Inhibitory neurons regulate the adaptation of neural circuits to sensory experience(1), but the molecular mechanisms by which experience controls the connectivity between different types of inhibitory neuron(2,3) to regulate cortical plasticity are largely unknown. Here we show that exposure of dark-housed mice to light induces a gene program in cortical vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)-expressing neurons that is markedly distinct from that induced in excitatory neurons and other subtypes of inhibitory neuron. We identify Igf1 as one of several activity-regulated genes that are specific to VIP neurons, and demonstrate that IGF1 functions cell-autonomously in VIP neurons to increase inhibitory synaptic input onto these neurons. Our findings further suggest that in cortical VIP neurons, experience-dependent gene transcription regulates visual acuity by activating the expression of IGF1, thus promoting the inhibition of disinhibitory neurons(3-5) and affecting inhibition onto cortical pyramidal neurons.
Experience-dependent gene transcription is required for nervous system development and function. However, the DNA regulatory elements that control this program of gene expression are not well defined. Here we characterize the enhancers that function across the genome to mediate activity-dependent transcription in mouse cortical neurons. We find that the subset of enhancers enriched for monomethylation of histone H3 Lys4 (H3K4me1) and binding of the transcriptional coactivator CREBBP (also called CBP) that shows increased acetylation of histone H3 Lys27 (H3K27ac) after membrane depolarization of cortical neurons functions to regulate activity-dependent transcription. A subset of these enhancers appears to require binding of FOS, which was previously thought to bind primarily to promoters. These findings suggest that FOS functions at enhancers to control activity-dependent gene programs that are critical for nervous system function and provide a resource of functional cis-regulatory elements that may give insight into the genetic variants that contribute to brain development and disease.
The nervous system adapts to experience by inducing a transcriptional program that controls important aspects of synaptic plasticity. Although the molecular mechanisms of experience-dependent plasticity are well characterized in excitatory neurons, the mechanisms that regulate this process in inhibitory neurons are only poorly understood. Here, we describe a transcriptional program that is induced by neuronal activity in inhibitory neurons. We find that, while neuronal activity induces expression of early-response transcription factors such as Npas4 in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons, Npas4 activates distinct programs of late-response genes in inhibitory and excitatory neurons. These late-response genes differentially regulate synaptic input to these two types of neurons, promoting inhibition onto excitatory neurons while inducing excitation onto inhibitory neurons. These findings suggest that the functional outcomes of activity-induced transcriptional responses are adapted in a cell-type-specific manner to achieve a circuit-wide homeostatic response.
The interaction between myelinating Schwann cells and the axons they ensheath is mediated by cell adhesion molecules of the Cadm/Necl/SynCAM family. This family consists of four members: Cadm4/Necl4 and Cadm1/Necl2 are found in both glia and axons, whereas Cadm2/Necl3 and Cadm3/Necl1 are expressed by sensory and motor neurons. By generating mice lacking each of the Cadm genes, we now demonstrate that Cadm4 plays a role in the establishment of the myelin unit in the peripheral nervous system. Mice lacking Cadm4 (PGK-Cre/Cadm4(fl/fl)), but not Cadm1, Cadm2, or Cadm3, develop focal hypermyelination characterized by tomacula and myelin outfoldings, which are the hallmark of several Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathies. The absence of Cadm4 also resulted in abnormal axon-glial contact and redistribution of ion channels along the axon. These neuropathological features were also found in transgenic mice expressing a dominant-negative mutant of Cadm4 lacking its cytoplasmic domain in myelinating glia Tg(mbp-Cadm4dCT), as well as in mice lacking Cadm4 specifically in Schwann cells (DHH-Cre/Cadm4(fl/fl)). Consistent with these abnormalities, both PGK-Cre/Cadm4(fl/fl) and Tg(mbp-Cadm4dCT) mice exhibit impaired motor function and slower nerve conduction velocity. These findings indicate that Cadm4 regulates the growth of the myelin unit and the organization of the underlying axonal membrane.
Myelinating Schwann cells regulate the localization of ion channels on the surface of the axons they ensheath. This function depends on adhesion complexes that are positioned at specific membrane domains along the myelin unit. Here we show that the precise localization of internodal proteins depends on the expression of the cytoskeletal adapter protein 4.1G in Schwann cells. Deletion of 4.1G in mice resulted in aberrant distribution of both glial adhesion molecules and axonal proteins that were present along the internodes. In wild-type nerves, juxtaparanodal proteins (i.e., Kv1 channels, Caspr2, and TAG-1) were concentrated throughout the internodes in a double strand that flanked paranodal junction components (i.e., Caspr, contactin, and NF155), and apposes the inner mesaxon of the myelin sheath. In contrast, in 4.1G(-/-) mice, these proteins "piled up" at the juxtaparanodal region or aggregated along the internodes. These findings suggest that protein 4.1G contributes to the organization of the internodal axolemma by targeting and/or maintaining glial transmembrane proteins along the axoglial interface.
Myelinating cocultures of Schwann cells and dorsal root ganglion neurons are a powerful experimental system for probing the molecular mechanisms of axon-Schwann cell interaction. The isolation of a pure population of myelination-competent Schwann cells is a prerequisite for this experimental system. We describe here a protocol for a FACS-based isolation of Schwann cells utilizing a specific affinity reagent (Necl1-Fc) and the use of these isolated cells in myelinating cocultures. An advantage of the myelinating coculture system is that Schwann cells and the neurons can be genetically manipulated before they are cocultured. We further show that our method allows the isolation of virally transduced Schwann cells in a single purification step. This protocol for the FACS-based isolation of myelination-competent Schwann cells by Necl1-Fc and the use of these cells in myelinating cocultures should significantly facilitate future studies aimed at delineation of the molecular mechanisms of axon-Schwann cell interactions and myelination. (C) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
A key step in human colon cancer development includes the hyperactivation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling and the induction of beta-catenin-TCF target genes that participate in colon cancer progression. Recent studies identified members of the immunoglobulin-like cell adhesion molecules (IgCAM) of the LICAM family (L1 and Nr-CAM) as targets of beta-catenin-TCF signaling in colon cancer cells. L1 was detected at the invasive front of colon cancer tissue and confers metastasis when overexpressed in cells. In contrast to L1, we did not detect in colon cancer cells significant levels of another IgCAM family of molecules, the nectin-like (Necl) receptors Necl1 and Necl4, while Necl4 was previously found in the normal small intestine and colon tissues. We studied the properties of colon cancer cells in which Necl4 and Necl1 were expressed either alone, or in combination, and found that such cells display a wide range of properties associated with tumor suppression. Expression of both Necl1 and Necl4 was the most efficient in suppressing the tumorigenicity of colon cancer cells. This was associated with enhanced rates of apoptosis and change in several apoptosis-related markers. In contrast to its capacity to suppress tumorigenesis, Necl4 was unable to affect the highly malignant and metastatic capacities of colon cancer cells in which L1 was overexpressed. Our results suggest that various IgCAM receptor families play different roles in affecting the tumorigenic function of the same cells, and that Necl1 and Necl4 can fulfill a tumor suppressive role. J. Cell. Biochem. 108: 326-336, 2009. (C) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Oligodendrocytes form an insulating multilamellar structure of compact myelin around axons, which allows efficient and rapid propagation of action potentials. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms operating at the onset of myelination and during maintenance of the myelin sheath in the adult. Here we use a genetic cell ablation approach combined with Affymetrix GeneChip microarrays to identify a number of oligodendrocyte-enriched genes that may play a key role in myelination. One of the "oligogenes" we cloned using this approach is TmemIO/Opalin, which encodes for a novel transmembrane glycoprotein. In situ hybridization and RT-PCR analysis revealed that Tmem10 is selectively expressed by oligodendrocytes and that its expression is induced during their differentiation. Developmental immunofluorescence analysis demonstrated that Tmem10 starts to be expressed in the white matter tracks of the cerebellum and the corpus callosum at the onset of myelination after the appearance of other myelin genes such as MBP. In contrast to the spinal cord and brain, Tmem10 was not detected in myelinating Schwann cells, indicating that it is a CNS-specific myelin protein. In mature oligodendrocytes, Tmem10 was present at the cell soma and processes, as well as along myelinated internodes, where it was occasionally concentrated at the paranodes. In myelinating spinal cord cultures, Tmem10 was detected in MBP-positive cellular processes that were aligned with underlying axons before myelination commenced. These results suggest a possible role of Tmem10 in oligodendrocyte differentiation and CNS myelination. 02008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Myelination in the peripheral nervous system requires close contact between Schwann cells and the axon, but the underlying molecular basis remains largely unknown. Here we show that cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) of the nectin-like (Necl, also known as SynCAM or Cadm) family mediate Schwann cell-axon interaction during myelination. Necl4 is the main Necl expressed by myelinating Schwann cells and is located along the internodes in direct apposition to Necl1, which is localized on axons. Necl4 serves as the glial binding partner for axonal Necl1, and the interaction between these two CAMs mediates Schwann cell adhesion. The disruption of the interaction between Necl1 and Necl4 by their soluble extracellular domains, or the expression of a dominant-negative Necl4 in Schwann cells, inhibits myelination. These results suggest that Necl proteins are important for mediating axon-glia contact during myelination in peripheral nerves.
The formation of the myelin sheath in the CNS is the endpoint of a defined developmental program along which oligodendrocytes progress. However, the molecular signals required for the initiation of myelination are largely unknown. Ishibashi et al. report in this issue of Neuron that ATP released by axons as a result of electrical stimulation serves as an important myelination signal. Surprisingly, they found that ATP does not act directly on oligodendrocytes but rather on astrocytes, causing the release of leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), which in turns affects promyelinating oligodendrocytes. These findings uncover a novel role for astrocytes in mediating the intricate communication between axons and myelinating glial cells.
The development and maintenance of myelinated nerves in the PNS requires constant and reciprocal communication between Schwann cells and their associated axons. However, little is known about the nature of the cell-surface molecules that mediate axon-glial interactions at the onset of myelination and during maintenance of the myelin sheath in the adult. Based oil the rationale that such molecules contain a signal sequence in order to be presented on the cell surface, we have employed a eukaryotic-based, signal-sequence-trap approach to identify novel secreted and membrane-bound molecules that are expressed in myelinating and non-myelinating Schwann cells. Using cDNA libraries derived from AcAMP-stimulated primary Schwann cells and 3-day-old rat sciatic nerve mRNAs, we generated an extensive list Of novel molecules expressed in myelinating nerves in the PNS. Many of the identified proteins are cell-adhesion molecules (CAMs) and extracellular matrix (ECA4) components, most of which have not been described previously in Schwann cells. In addition, we have identified several signaling receptors, growth and differentiation factors, ecto-enzymes and proteins that are associated with the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi network. We further examined the expression of several of the novel molecules in Schwann cells in culture and in rat sciatic nerve by primer-specific, real-time PCR and in situ hybridization. Our results indicate that myelinating Schwann cells express a battery of novel CAMs that might mediate their interactions with the underlying axons.
Accumulation of Na+ channels at the nodes of Ranvier is a prerequisite for saltatory conduction. In peripheral nerves, clustering of these channels along the axolemma is regulated by myelinating Schwarm cells through a yet unknown mechanism. We report the identification of gliomedin, a glial ligand for neurofascin and NrCAM, two axonal immunoglobulin cell adhesion molecules that are associated with Na+ channels at the nodes of Ranvier. Gliomedin is expressed by myelinating Schwann cells and accumulates at the edges of each myelin segment during development, where it aligns with the forming nodes. Eliminating the expression of gliomedin by RNAi, or the addition of a soluble extracellular domain of neurofascin to myelinating cultures, which caused the redistribution of gliomedin along the internodes, abolished node formation. Furthermore, a soluble gliomedin induced nodal-like clusters of Na+ channels in the absence of Schwarm cells. We propose that gliomedin provides a glial cue for the formation of peripheral nodes of Ranvier.
The NCP family of cell-recognition molecules represents a distinct subgroup of the neurexins that includes Caspr and Caspr2, as well as Drosophila Neurexin-IV and axotactin. Here, we report the identification of Caspr3 and Caspr4, two new NCPs expressed in nervous system. Caspr3 was detected along axons in the corpus callosum, spinal cord, basket cells in the cerebellum and in peripheral nerves, as well as in oligodendrocytes. In contrast, expression of Caspr4 was more restricted to specific neuronal subpopulations in the olfactory bulb, hippocampus, deep cerebellar nuclei, and the substantia nigra. Similar to the neurexins, the cytoplasmic tails of Caspr3 and Caspr4 interacted differentially with PDZ domain-containing proteins of the CASK/Lin2-Veli/Lin7-Mint1/Lin10 complex. The structural organization and distinct cellular distribution of Caspr3 and Caspr4 suggest a potential role of these proteins in cell recognition within the nervous system.
Myelinated nerves are specifically designed to allow the efficient and rapid propagation of action potentials. Myelinating glial cells contain several types of cellular junctions that are found between the myelin lamellas themselves in specialized regions of non-compact myelin and between the myelin membrane and the underlying axon. These include most of the junctional specializations found in epithelial cells, including tight, gap and adherens junctions. However, whereas in epithelial cells these junctions are formed between different cells, in myelinating glia these so called autotypic junctions are found between membrane lamellae of the same cell. In addition, myelinating glial cells form a heterotypic septate-like junction with the axon around the nodes of Ranvier and, in the peripheral nerve system, contact the basal lamina, which surrounds myelinating Schwann cells. This short review discusses the structure, molecular composition and function of the junctions present in myelinating cells, concentrating on the axo-glial junction.
The RFX protein family includes members from yeast to humans, which function in various biological systems, and share a DNA-binding domain and a conserved C-terminal region. In the human transcription regulator RFX1, the conserved C terminus is an independent functional domain, which mediates dimerization and transcriptional repression. This dimerization domain has a unique ability to mediate the formation of two alternative homodimeric DNA-protein complexes, the upper of which has been linked to repression. Here, we localize the complex formation capacity to several different RFX1 C-terminal subregions, each of which can function independently to generate the upper complex and repress transcription, thus correlating complex formation with repression. To gain an evolutionary perspective, we have examined whether the different properties of the RFX1 C terminus exist in the two yeast RFX proteins, which are involved in signaling pathways. Replacement of the RFX1 C terminus with those of Saki and Crt1, its orthologues from Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, respectively, and analysis of fusions with the Gal4 DNA-binding domain, revealed that the ability to generate the two alternative complexes is conserved in the RFX family, from S. cerevisiae to man. While sharing this unique biochemical property, the three C termini differed from each other in their ability to mediate dimerization and transcriptional repression. In both functions, RFX1, Saki, and Crt1 showed high capacity, moderate capacity, and no capacity, respectively. This comparative analysis of the RFX proteins, representing different evolutionary stages, suggests a gradual development of the conserved C terminus, from the appearance of the ancestral motif (Crt1), to the later acquisition of the dimerization/repression functions (Sak1), and finally to the enhancement of these functions to generate a domain mediating highly stable protein-protein interactions and potent transcriptional r