• Metaplasticity mechanisms restore plasticity and associativity in an animal model of Alzheimer's disease.

      Li, Qin; Navakkode, Sheeja; Rothkegel, Martin; Soong, Tuck Wah; Sajikumar, Sreedharan; Korte, Martin; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-05-23)
      Dynamic regulation of plasticity thresholds in a neuronal population is critical for the formation of long-term plasticity and memory and is achieved by mechanisms such as metaplasticity. Metaplasticity tunes the synapses to undergo changes that are necessary prerequisites for memory storage under physiological and pathological conditions. Here we discovered that, in amyloid precursor protein (APP)/presenilin-1 (PS1) mice (age 3-4 mo), a prominent mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (AD), late long-term potentiation (LTP; L-LTP) and its associative plasticity mechanisms such as synaptic tagging and capture (STC) were impaired already in presymptomatic mice. Interestingly, late long-term depression (LTD; L-LTD) was not compromised, but the positive associative interaction of LTP and LTD, cross-capture, was altered in these mice. Metaplastic activation of ryanodine receptors (RyRs) in these neurons reestablished L-LTP and STC. We propose that RyR-mediated metaplastic mechanisms can be considered as a possible therapeutic target for counteracting synaptic impairments in the neuronal networks during the early progression of AD.
    • Modeling Neurodegenerative Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 13 in Zebrafish Using a Purkinje Neuron Specific Tunable Coexpression System.

      Namikawa, Kazuhiko; Dorigo, Alessandro; Zagrebelsky, Marta; Russo, Giulio; Kirmann, Toni; Fahr, Wieland; Dübel, Stefan; Korte, Martin; Köster, Reinhard W; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Society of Neuroscience, 2019-05-15)
      Purkinje cells (PCs) are primarily affected in neurodegenerative spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs). For generating animal models for SCAs, genetic regulatory elements specifically targeting PCs are required, thereby linking pathological molecular effects with impaired function and organismic behavior. Because cerebellar anatomy and function are evolutionary conserved, zebrafish represent an excellent model to study SCAs in vivo We have isolated a 258 bp cross-species PC-specific enhancer element that can be used in a bidirectional manner for bioimaging of transgene-expressing PCs in zebrafish (both sexes) with variable copy numbers for tuning expression strength. Emerging ectopic expression at high copy numbers can be further eliminated by repurposing microRNA-mediated posttranslational mRNA regulation.Subsequently, we generated a transgenic SCA type 13 (SCA13) model, using a zebrafish-variant mimicking a human pathological SCA13R420H mutation, resulting in cell-autonomous progressive PC degeneration linked to cerebellum-driven eye-movement deficits as observed in SCA patients. This underscores that investigating PC-specific cerebellar neuropathologies in zebrafish allows for interconnecting bioimaging of disease mechanisms with behavioral analysis suitable for therapeutic compound testing.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT SCA13 patients carrying a KCNC3R420H allele have been shown to display mid-onset progressive cerebellar atrophy, but genetic modeling of SCA13 by expressing this pathogenic mutant in different animal models has not resulted in neuronal degeneration so far; likely because the transgene was expressed in heterologous cell types. We developed a genetic system for tunable PC-specific coexpression of several transgenes to manipulate and simultaneously monitor cerebellar PCs. We modeled a SCA13 zebrafish accessible for bioimaging to investigate disease progression, revealing robust PC degeneration, resulting in impaired eye movement. Our transgenic zebrafish mimicking both neuropathological and behavioral changes manifested in SCA-affected patients will be suitable for investigating causes of cerebellar diseases in vivo from the molecular to the behavioral level.
    • Neural stem cell lineage-specific cannabinoid type-1 receptor regulates neurogenesis and plasticity in the adult mouse hippocampus.

      Zimmermann, Tina; Maroso, Mattia; Beer, Annika; Baddenhausen, Sarah; Ludewig, Susann; Fan, Wenqiang; Vennin, Constance; Loch, Sebastian; Berninger, Benedikt; Hofmann, Clementine; et al. (Oxford University Publishing, 2018-10-11)
      Neural stem cells (NSCs) in the adult mouse hippocampus occur in a specific neurogenic niche, where a multitude of extracellular signaling molecules converges to regulate NSC proliferation as well as fate and functional integration. However, the underlying mechanisms how NSCs react to extrinsic signals and convert them to intracellular responses still remains elusive. NSCs contain a functional endocannabinoid system, including the cannabinoid type-1 receptor (CB1). To decipher whether CB1 regulates adult neurogenesis directly or indirectly in vivo, we performed NSC-specific conditional inactivation of CB1 by using triple-transgenic mice. Here, we show that lack of CB1 in NSCs is sufficient to decrease proliferation of the stem cell pool, which consequently leads to a reduction in the number of newborn neurons. Furthermore, neuronal differentiation was compromised at the level of dendritic maturation pointing towards a postsynaptic role of CB1 in vivo. Deteriorated neurogenesis in NSC-specific CB1 knock-outs additionally resulted in reduced long-term potentiation in the hippocampal formation. The observed cellular and physiological alterations led to decreased short-term spatial memory and increased depression-like behavior. These results demonstrate that CB1 expressed in NSCs and their progeny controls neurogenesis in adult mice to regulate the NSC stem cell pool, dendritic morphology, activity-dependent plasticity, and behavior.
    • NLRP3 is activated in Alzheimer's disease and contributes to pathology in APP/PS1 mice.

      Heneka, Michael T; Kummer, Markus P; Stutz, Andrea; Delekate, Andrea; Schwartz, Stephanie; Vieira-Saecker, Ana; Griep, Angelika; Axt, Daisy; Remus, Anita; Tzeng, Te-Chen; et al. (2013-01-31)
      Alzheimer's disease is the world's most common dementing illness. Deposition of amyloid-β peptide drives cerebral neuroinflammation by activating microglia. Indeed, amyloid-β activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome in microglia is fundamental for interleukin-1β maturation and subsequent inflammatory events. However, it remains unknown whether NLRP3 activation contributes to Alzheimer's disease in vivo. Here we demonstrate strongly enhanced active caspase-1 expression in human mild cognitive impairment and brains with Alzheimer's disease, suggesting a role for the inflammasome in this neurodegenerative disease. Nlrp3(-/-) or Casp1(-/-) mice carrying mutations associated with familial Alzheimer's disease were largely protected from loss of spatial memory and other sequelae associated with Alzheimer's disease, and demonstrated reduced brain caspase-1 and interleukin-1β activation as well as enhanced amyloid-β clearance. Furthermore, NLRP3 inflammasome deficiency skewed microglial cells to an M2 phenotype and resulted in the decreased deposition of amyloid-β in the APP/PS1 model of Alzheimer's disease. These results show an important role for the NLRP3/caspase-1 axis in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, and suggest that NLRP3 inflammasome inhibition represents a new therapeutic intervention for the disease.
    • Novel Insights into the Physiological Function of the APP (Gene) Family and Its Proteolytic Fragments in Synaptic Plasticity.

      Ludewig, Susann; Korte, Martin; Hemholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      The amyloid precursor protein (APP) is well known to be involved in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) via its cleavage product amyloid ß (Aß). However, the physiological role of APP, its various proteolytic products and the amyloid precursor-like proteins 1 and 2 (APLP1/2) are still not fully clarified. Interestingly, it has been shown that learning and memory processes represented by functional and structural changes at synapses are altered in different APP and APLP1/2 mouse mutants. In addition, APP and its fragments are implicated in regulating synaptic strength further reinforcing their modulatory role at the synapse. While APLP2 and APP are functionally redundant, the exclusively CNS expressed APLP1, might have individual roles within the synaptic network. The proteolytic product of non-amyloidogenic APP processing, APPsα, emerged as a neurotrophic peptide that facilitates long-term potentiation (LTP) and restores impairments occurring with age. Interestingly, the newly discovered η-secretase cleavage product, An-α acts in the opposite direction, namely decreasing LTP. In this review we summarize recent findings with emphasis on the physiological role of the APP gene family and its proteolytic products on synaptic function and plasticity, especially during processes of hippocampal LTP. Therefore, we focus on literature that provide electrophysiological data by using different mutant mouse strains either lacking full-length or parts of the APP proteins or that utilized secretase inhibitors as well as secreted APP fragments.
    • Two-Photon Correlation Spectroscopy in Single Dendritic Spines Reveals Fast Actin Filament Reorganization during Activity-Dependent Growth.

      Chen, Jian-Hua; Kellner, Yves; Zagrebelsky, Marta; Grunwald, Matthias; Korte, Martin; Walla, Peter Jomo; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
      Two-photon fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (2P-FCS) within single dendritic spines of living hippocampal pyramidal neurons was used to resolve various subpopulations of mobile F-actin during activity-dependent structural changes such as potentiation induced spine head growth. Two major classes of mobile F-actin were discovered: very dynamic and about a hundred times less dynamic F-actin. Spine head enlargement upon application of Tetraethylammonium (TEA), a protocol previously used for the chemical induction of long-term potentiation (cLTP) strictly correlated to changes in the dynamics and filament numbers in the different actin filament fractions. Our observations suggest that spine enlargement is governed by a mechanism in which longer filaments are first cut into smaller filaments that cooperate with the second, increasingly dynamic shorter actin filament population to quickly reorganize and expand the actin cytoskeleton within the spine head. This process would allow a fast and efficient spine head enlargement using a major fraction of the actin filament population that was already present before spine head growth.