Yan Li
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Publication
Journal: Nature
July/17/2012
Abstract
The spatial organization of the genome is intimately linked to its biological function, yet our understanding of higher order genomic structure is coarse, fragmented and incomplete. In the nucleus of eukaryotic cells, interphase chromosomes occupy distinct chromosome territories, and numerous models have been proposed for how chromosomes fold within chromosome territories. These models, however, provide only few mechanistic details about the relationship between higher order chromatin structure and genome function. Recent advances in genomic technologies have led to rapid advances in the study of three-dimensional genome organization. In particular, Hi-C has been introduced as a method for identifying higher order chromatin interactions genome wide. Here we investigate the three-dimensional organization of the human and mouse genomes in embryonic stem cells and terminally differentiated cell types at unprecedented resolution. We identify large, megabase-sized local chromatin interaction domains, which we term 'topological domains', as a pervasive structural feature of the genome organization. These domains correlate with regions of the genome that constrain the spread of heterochromatin. The domains are stable across different cell types and highly conserved across species, indicating that topological domains are an inherent property of mammalian genomes. Finally, we find that the boundaries of topological domains are enriched for the insulator binding protein CTCF, housekeeping genes, transfer RNAs and short interspersed element (SINE) retrotransposons, indicating that these factors may have a role in establishing the topological domain structure of the genome.
Publication
Journal: Science
June/16/2003
Abstract
We sequenced the 29,751-base genome of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-associated coronavirus known as the Tor2 isolate. The genome sequence reveals that this coronavirus is only moderately related to other known coronaviruses, including two human coronaviruses, HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-229E. Phylogenetic analysis of the predicted viral proteins indicates that the virus does not closely resemble any of the three previously known groups of coronaviruses. The genome sequence will aid in the diagnosis of SARS virus infection in humans and potential animal hosts (using polymerase chain reaction and immunological tests), in the development of antivirals (including neutralizing antibodies), and in the identification of putative epitopes for vaccine development.
Publication
Journal: Nature
July/15/2010
Abstract
Although pioneered by human geneticists as a potential solution to the challenging problem of finding the genetic basis of common human diseases, genome-wide association (GWA) studies have, owing to advances in genotyping and sequencing technology, become an obvious general approach for studying the genetics of natural variation and traits of agricultural importance. They are particularly useful when inbred lines are available, because once these lines have been genotyped they can be phenotyped multiple times, making it possible (as well as extremely cost effective) to study many different traits in many different environments, while replicating the phenotypic measurements to reduce environmental noise. Here we demonstrate the power of this approach by carrying out a GWA study of 107 phenotypes in Arabidopsis thaliana, a widely distributed, predominantly self-fertilizing model plant known to harbour considerable genetic variation for many adaptively important traits. Our results are dramatically different from those of human GWA studies, in that we identify many common alleles of major effect, but they are also, in many cases, harder to interpret because confounding by complex genetics and population structure make it difficult to distinguish true associations from false. However, a-priori candidates are significantly over-represented among these associations as well, making many of them excellent candidates for follow-up experiments. Our study demonstrates the feasibility of GWA studies in A. thaliana and suggests that the approach will be appropriate for many other organisms.
Publication
Journal: Nature
May/18/2011
Abstract
Schizophrenia (SCZD) is a debilitating neurological disorder with a world-wide prevalence of 1%; there is a strong genetic component, with an estimated heritability of 80-85%. Although post-mortem studies have revealed reduced brain volume, cell size, spine density and abnormal neural distribution in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of SCZD brain tissue and neuropharmacological studies have implicated dopaminergic, glutamatergic and GABAergic activity in SCZD, the cell types affected in SCZD and the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease state remain unclear. To elucidate the cellular and molecular defects of SCZD, we directly reprogrammed fibroblasts from SCZD patients into human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and subsequently differentiated these disorder-specific hiPSCs into neurons (Supplementary Fig. 1). SCZD hiPSC neurons showed diminished neuronal connectivity in conjunction with decreased neurite number, PSD95-protein levels and glutamate receptor expression. Gene expression profiles of SCZD hiPSC neurons identified altered expression of many components of the cyclic AMP and WNT signalling pathways. Key cellular and molecular elements of the SCZD phenotype were ameliorated following treatment of SCZD hiPSC neurons with the antipsychotic loxapine. To date, hiPSC neuronal pathology has only been demonstrated in diseases characterized by both the loss of function of a single gene product and rapid disease progression in early childhood. We now report hiPSC neuronal phenotypes and gene expression changes associated with SCZD, a complex genetic psychiatric disorder.
Publication
Journal: Nature
February/6/2007
Abstract
The 1918 influenza pandemic was unusually severe, resulting in about 50 million deaths worldwide. The 1918 virus is also highly pathogenic in mice, and studies have identified a multigenic origin of this virulent phenotype in mice. However, these initial characterizations of the 1918 virus did not address the question of its pathogenic potential in primates. Here we demonstrate that the 1918 virus caused a highly pathogenic respiratory infection in a cynomolgus macaque model that culminated in acute respiratory distress and a fatal outcome. Furthermore, infected animals mounted an immune response, characterized by dysregulation of the antiviral response, that was insufficient for protection, indicating that atypical host innate immune responses may contribute to lethality. The ability of influenza viruses to modulate host immune responses, such as that demonstrated for the avian H5N1 influenza viruses, may be a feature shared by the virulent influenza viruses.
Publication
Journal: Nature
November/27/2013
Abstract
A large number of cis-regulatory sequences have been annotated in the human genome, but defining their target genes remains a challenge. One strategy is to identify the long-range looping interactions at these elements with the use of chromosome conformation capture (3C)-based techniques. However, previous studies lack either the resolution or coverage to permit a whole-genome, unbiased view of chromatin interactions. Here we report a comprehensive chromatin interaction map generated in human fibroblasts using a genome-wide 3C analysis method (Hi-C). We determined over one million long-range chromatin interactions at 5-10-kb resolution, and uncovered general principles of chromatin organization at different types of genomic features. We also characterized the dynamics of promoter-enhancer contacts after TNF-α signalling in these cells. Unexpectedly, we found that TNF-α-responsive enhancers are already in contact with their target promoters before signalling. Such pre-existing chromatin looping, which also exists in other cell types with different extracellular signalling, is a strong predictor of gene induction. Our observations suggest that the three-dimensional chromatin landscape, once established in a particular cell type, is relatively stable and could influence the selection or activation of target genes by a ubiquitous transcription activator in a cell-specific manner.
Publication
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
May/8/2012
Abstract
Influenza A virus reservoirs in animals have provided novel genetic elements leading to the emergence of global pandemics in humans. Most influenza A viruses circulate in waterfowl, but those that infect mammalian hosts are thought to pose the greatest risk for zoonotic spread to humans and the generation of pandemic or panzootic viruses. We have identified an influenza A virus from little yellow-shouldered bats captured at two locations in Guatemala. It is significantly divergent from known influenza A viruses. The HA of the bat virus was estimated to have diverged at roughly the same time as the known subtypes of HA and was designated as H17. The neuraminidase (NA) gene is highly divergent from all known influenza NAs, and the internal genes from the bat virus diverged from those of known influenza A viruses before the estimated divergence of the known influenza A internal gene lineages. Attempts to propagate this virus in cell cultures and chicken embryos were unsuccessful, suggesting distinct requirements compared with known influenza viruses. Despite its divergence from known influenza A viruses, the bat virus is compatible for genetic exchange with human influenza viruses in human cells, suggesting the potential capability for reassortment and contributions to new pandemic or panzootic influenza A viruses.
Publication
Journal: JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association
January/31/2003
Abstract
BACKGROUND
Despite increasing awareness about the potential impact of financial conflicts of interest on biomedical research, no comprehensive synthesis of the body of evidence relating to financial conflicts of interest has been performed.
OBJECTIVE
To review original, quantitative studies on the extent, impact, and management of financial conflicts of interest in biomedical research.
METHODS
Studies were identified by searching MEDLINE (January 1980-October 2002), the Web of Science citation database, references of articles, letters, commentaries, editorials, and books and by contacting experts.
METHODS
All English-language studies containing original, quantitative data on financial relationships among industry, scientific investigators, and academic institutions were included. A total of 1664 citations were screened, 144 potentially eligible full articles were retrieved, and 37 studies met our inclusion criteria.
METHODS
One investigator (J.E.B.) extracted data from each of the 37 studies. The main outcomes were the prevalence of specific types of industry relationships, the relation between industry sponsorship and study outcome or investigator behavior, and the process for disclosure, review, and management of financial conflicts of interest.
RESULTS
Approximately one fourth of investigators have industry affiliations, and roughly two thirds of academic institutions hold equity in start-ups that sponsor research performed at the same institutions. Eight articles, which together evaluated 1140 original studies, assessed the relation between industry sponsorship and outcome in original research. Aggregating the results of these articles showed a statistically significant association between industry sponsorship and pro-industry conclusions (pooled Mantel-Haenszel odds ratio, 3.60; 95% confidence interval, 2.63-4.91). Industry sponsorship was also associated with restrictions on publication and data sharing. The approach to managing financial conflicts varied substantially across academic institutions and peer-reviewed journals.
CONCLUSIONS
Financial relationships among industry, scientific investigators, and academic institutions are widespread. Conflicts of interest arising from these ties can influence biomedical research in important ways.
Publication
Journal: PLoS Pathogens
May/26/2014
Abstract
Aquatic birds harbor diverse influenza A viruses and are a major viral reservoir in nature. The recent discovery of influenza viruses of a new H17N10 subtype in Central American fruit bats suggests that other New World species may similarly carry divergent influenza viruses. Using consensus degenerate RT-PCR, we identified a novel influenza A virus, designated as H18N11, in a flat-faced fruit bat (Artibeus planirostris) from Peru. Serologic studies with the recombinant H18 protein indicated that several Peruvian bat species were infected by this virus. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that, in some gene segments, New World bats harbor more influenza virus genetic diversity than all other mammalian and avian species combined, indicative of a long-standing host-virus association. Structural and functional analyses of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase indicate that sialic acid is not a ligand for virus attachment nor a substrate for release, suggesting a unique mode of influenza A virus attachment and activation of membrane fusion for entry into host cells. Taken together, these findings indicate that bats constitute a potentially important and likely ancient reservoir for a diverse pool of influenza viruses.
Publication
Journal: Nature Medicine
May/30/2003
Abstract
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common and aggressive human malignancies. Its high mortality rate is mainly a result of intra-hepatic metastases. We analyzed the expression profiles of HCC samples without or with intra-hepatic metastases. Using a supervised machine-learning algorithm, we generated for the first time a molecular signature that can classify metastatic HCC patients and identified genes that were relevant to metastasis and patient survival. We found that the gene expression signature of primary HCCs with accompanying metastasis was very similar to that of their corresponding metastases, implying that genes favoring metastasis progression were initiated in the primary tumors. Osteopontin, which was identified as a lead gene in the signature, was over-expressed in metastatic HCC; an osteopontin-specific antibody effectively blocked HCC cell invasion in vitro and inhibited pulmonary metastasis of HCC cells in nude mice. Thus, osteopontin acts as both a diagnostic marker and a potential therapeutic target for metastatic HCC.
Publication
Journal: Cell
August/1/2013
Abstract
Epigenetic mechanisms have been proposed to play crucial roles in mammalian development, but their precise functions are only partially understood. To investigate epigenetic regulation of embryonic development, we differentiated human embryonic stem cells into mesendoderm, neural progenitor cells, trophoblast-like cells, and mesenchymal stem cells and systematically characterized DNA methylation, chromatin modifications, and the transcriptome in each lineage. We found that promoters that are active in early developmental stages tend to be CG rich and mainly engage H3K27me3 upon silencing in nonexpressing lineages. By contrast, promoters for genes expressed preferentially at later stages are often CG poor and primarily employ DNA methylation upon repression. Interestingly, the early developmental regulatory genes are often located in large genomic domains that are generally devoid of DNA methylation in most lineages, which we termed DNA methylation valleys (DMVs). Our results suggest that distinct epigenetic mechanisms regulate early and late stages of ES cell differentiation.
Publication
Journal: Nature Communications
August/26/2016
Abstract
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) represent a class of widespread and diverse endogenous RNAs that may regulate gene expression in eukaryotes. However, the regulation and function of human circRNAs remain largely unknown. Here we generate ribosomal-depleted RNA sequencing data from six normal tissues and seven cancers, and detect at least 27,000 circRNA candidates. Many of these circRNAs are differently expressed between the normal and cancerous tissues. We further characterize one abundant circRNA derived from Exon2 of the HIPK3 gene, termed circHIPK3. The silencing of circHIPK3 but not HIPK3 mRNA significantly inhibits human cell growth. Via a luciferase screening assay, circHIPK3 is observed to sponge to 9 miRNAs with 18 potential binding sites. Specifically, we show that circHIPK3 directly binds to miR-124 and inhibits miR-124 activity. Our results provide evidence that circular RNA produced from precursor mRNA may have a regulatory role in human cells.
Publication
Journal: Cell Research
May/17/2016
Publication
Journal: Journal of Cell Biology
June/11/2014
Abstract
PINK1 kinase activates the E3 ubiquitin ligase Parkin to induce selective autophagy of damaged mitochondria. However, it has been unclear how PINK1 activates and recruits Parkin to mitochondria. Although PINK1 phosphorylates Parkin, other PINK1 substrates appear to activate Parkin, as the mutation of all serine and threonine residues conserved between Drosophila and human, including Parkin S65, did not wholly impair Parkin translocation to mitochondria. Using mass spectrometry, we discovered that endogenous PINK1 phosphorylated ubiquitin at serine 65, homologous to the site phosphorylated by PINK1 in Parkin's ubiquitin-like domain. Recombinant TcPINK1 directly phosphorylated ubiquitin and phospho-ubiquitin activated Parkin E3 ubiquitin ligase activity in cell-free assays. In cells, the phosphomimetic ubiquitin mutant S65D bound and activated Parkin. Furthermore, expression of ubiquitin S65A, a mutant that cannot be phosphorylated by PINK1, inhibited Parkin translocation to damaged mitochondria. These results explain a feed-forward mechanism of PINK1-mediated initiation of Parkin E3 ligase activity.
Publication
Journal: Science
June/12/2006
Abstract
Yersinia species use a variety of type III effector proteins to target eukaryotic signaling systems. The effector YopJ inhibits mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and the nuclear factor kappaB (NFkappaB) signaling pathways used in innate immune response by preventing activation of the family of MAPK kinases (MAPKK). We show that YopJ acted as an acetyltransferase, using acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA) to modify the critical serine and threonine residues in the activation loop of MAPKK6 and thereby blocking phosphorylation. The acetylation on MAPKK6 directly competed with phosphorylation, preventing activation of the modified protein. This covalent modification may be used as a general regulatory mechanism in biological signaling.
Publication
Journal: Molecular Cell
September/19/2005
Abstract
Beta-catenin is upregulated in many human cancers and considered to be an oncogene. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most prevalent human malignancies, and individuals who are chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers have a greater than 100-fold increased relative risk of developing HCC. Here we report a mechanism by which HBV-X protein (HBX) upregulates beta-catenin. Erk, which is activated by HBX, associates with GSK-3beta through a docking motif ((291)FKFP) of GSK-3beta and phosphorylates GSK-3beta at the (43)Thr residue, which primes GSK-3beta for its subsequent phosphorylation at Ser9 by p90RSK, resulting in inactivation of GSK-3beta and upregulation of beta-catenin. This pathway is a general signal, as it was also observed in cell lines in which Erk-primed inactivation of GSK-3beta was regulated by IGF-1, TGF-beta, and receptor tyrosine kinase HER2, and is further supported by immunohistochemical staining in different human tumors, including cancers of the liver, breast, kidney, and stomach.
Publication
Journal: Journal of Cheminformatics
May/20/2014
Abstract
BACKGROUND
Modern medicine often clashes with traditional medicine such as Chinese herbal medicine because of the little understanding of the underlying mechanisms of action of the herbs. In an effort to promote integration of both sides and to accelerate the drug discovery from herbal medicines, an efficient systems pharmacology platform that represents ideal information convergence of pharmacochemistry, ADME properties, drug-likeness, drug targets, associated diseases and interaction networks, are urgently needed.
METHODS
The traditional Chinese medicine systems pharmacology database and analysis platform (TCMSP) was built based on the framework of systems pharmacology for herbal medicines. It consists of all the 499 Chinese herbs registered in the Chinese pharmacopoeia with 29,384 ingredients, 3,311 targets and 837 associated diseases. Twelve important ADME-related properties like human oral bioavailability, half-life, drug-likeness, Caco-2 permeability, blood-brain barrier and Lipinski's rule of five are provided for drug screening and evaluation. TCMSP also provides drug targets and diseases of each active compound, which can automatically establish the compound-target and target-disease networks that let users view and analyze the drug action mechanisms. It is designed to fuel the development of herbal medicines and to promote integration of modern medicine and traditional medicine for drug discovery and development.
CONCLUSIONS
The particular strengths of TCMSP are the composition of the large number of herbal entries, and the ability to identify drug-target networks and drug-disease networks, which will help revealing the mechanisms of action of Chinese herbs, uncovering the nature of TCM theory and developing new herb-oriented drugs. TCMSP is freely available at http://sm.nwsuaf.edu.cn/lsp/tcmsp.php.
Publication
Journal: Cell host & microbe
December/11/2007
Abstract
Pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) elicit basal defense responses in plants, and, in turn, pathogens have evolved mechanisms to overcome these PAMP-induced defenses. To suppress immunity, the phytopathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas syringae secretes effector proteins, the biochemical function and virulence targets of which remain largely unknown. We show that HopAI1, an effector widely conserved in both plant and animal bacterial pathogens, inhibits the Arabidopsis mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) activated by exposure to PAMPs. HopAI1 inactivates MAPKs by removing the phosphate group from phosphothreonine through a unique phosphothreonine lyase activity, which is required for HopAI1 function. The inhibition of MAPKs by HopA1 suppresses two independent downstream events, namely the reinforcement of cell wall defense and transcriptional activation of PAMP response genes. The MAPKs MPK3 and MPK6 physically interact with HopAI1 indicating that they are direct targets of HopAI1. These findings uncover a mechanism by which Pseudomonas syringae overcomes host innate immunity to promote pathogenesis.
Publication
Journal: Plant Cell
April/22/2008
Abstract
Many biochemical approaches show functions of calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs) in abscisic acid (ABA) signal transduction, but molecular genetic evidence linking defined CDPK genes with ABA-regulated biological functions at the whole-plant level has been lacking. Here, we report that ABA stimulated two homologous CDPKs in Arabidopsis thaliana, CPK4 and CPK11. Loss-of-function mutations of CPK4 and CPK11 resulted in pleiotropic ABA-insensitive phenotypes in seed germination, seedling growth, and stomatal movement and led to salt insensitivity in seed germination and decreased tolerance of seedlings to salt stress. Double mutants of the two CDPK genes had stronger ABA- and salt-responsive phenotypes than the single mutants. CPK4- or CPK11-overexpressing plants generally showed inverse ABA-related phenotypes relative to those of the loss-of-function mutants. Expression levels of many ABA-responsive genes were altered in the loss-of-function mutants and overexpression lines. The CPK4 and CPK11 kinases both phosphorylated two ABA-responsive transcription factors, ABF1 and ABF4, in vitro, suggesting that the two kinases may regulate ABA signaling through these transcription factors. These data provide in planta genetic evidence for the involvement of CDPK/calcium in ABA signaling at the whole-plant level and show that CPK4 and CPK11 are two important positive regulators in CDPK/calcium-mediated ABA signaling pathways.
Publication
Journal: Molecular and Cellular Biology
January/28/2003
Abstract
Notch and its ligands play critical roles in cell fate determination. Expression of Notch and ligand in vascular endothelium and defects in vascular phenotypes of targeted mutants in the Notch pathway have suggested a critical role for Notch signaling in vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. However, the angiogenic signaling that controls Notch and ligand gene expression is unknown. We show here that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) but not basic fibroblast growth factor can induce gene expression of Notch1 and its ligand, Delta-like 4 (Dll4), in human arterial endothelial cells. The VEGF-induced specific signaling is mediated through VEGF receptors 1 and 2 and is transmitted via the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway but is independent of mitogen-activated protein kinase and Src tyrosine kinase. Constitutive activation of Notch signaling stabilizes network formation of endothelial cells on Matrigel and enhances formation of vessel-like structures in a three-dimensional angiogenesis model, whereas blocking Notch signaling can partially inhibit network formation. This study provides the first evidence for regulation of Notch/Delta gene expression by an angiogenic growth factor and insight into the critical role of Notch signaling in arteriogenesis and angiogenesis.
Publication
Journal: Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
September/23/2004
Abstract
Metastasis remains one of the major challenges before hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is finally conquered. This paper summarized a decade's studies on HCC metastasis at the Liver Cancer Institute of Fudan University. We have established a stepwise metastatic human HCC model system, which included a metastatic HCC model in nude mice (LCI-D20), a HCC cell line with high metastatic potential (MHCC97), a relatively low metastatic potential cell clone (MHCC97L) and several stepwise high metastatic potential cell clones (MHCC97H, HCCLM3, and HCCLM6) from their parent MHCC97 cell. Endeavors have been made for searching human HCC metastasis-related chromosomes/proteins/genes. Monogene-based studies revealed that HCC invasion/metastasis was similar to that of other solid tumors, and the biological characteristics of small HCC were only slightly better than that of large HCC. Using comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), genotyping, cDNA microarray, and 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis, we obtained some interesting results. In particular, in collaboration with the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States, we generated a molecular signature that can classify metastatic HCC patients, identified osteopontin as a lead gene in the signature, and found that genes favoring metastasis progression were initiated in the primary tumors. We also found that chromosome 8p deletion, particularly in the region of 8p23, was associated with HCC metastasis. Cytokeratin 19 was identified as one of the proteins, which was found in MHCC97H, but not in MHCC97L cells. Experimental interventions using the high metastatic nude mice model have provided clues for the prevention of HCC metastasis. Translation from workbench to bedside demonstrated that serum VEGF, microvessel density, and p53 scoring may be of value for the prediction of postoperative metastatic recurrence. Interferon alpha proved effective for the prevention of recurrence both experimentally and clinically. In conclusion, HCC metastasis that probably initiated in the primary tumor is a multigene-involved, multistep, and changing process. The further elucidation of the mechanism underlying HCC metastasis will provide a more solid basis for the prediction and prevention of the metastatic recurrence of HCC.
Publication
Journal: Nature
August/19/2013
Abstract
The newly emergent Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) can cause severe pulmonary disease in humans, representing the second example of a highly pathogenic coronavirus, the first being SARS-CoV. CD26 (also known as dipeptidyl peptidase 4, DPP4) was recently identified as the cellular receptor for MERS-CoV. The engagement of the MERS-CoV spike protein with CD26 mediates viral attachment to host cells and virus-cell fusion, thereby initiating infection. Here we delineate the molecular basis of this specific interaction by presenting the first crystal structures of both the free receptor binding domain (RBD) of the MERS-CoV spike protein and its complex with CD26. Furthermore, binding between the RBD and CD26 is measured using real-time surface plasmon resonance with a dissociation constant of 16.7 nM. The viral RBD is composed of a core subdomain homologous to that of the SARS-CoV spike protein, and a unique strand-dominated external receptor binding motif that recognizes blades IV and V of the CD26 β-propeller. The atomic details at the interface between the two binding entities reveal a surprising protein-protein contact mediated mainly by hydrophilic residues. Sequence alignment indicates, among betacoronaviruses, a possible structural conservation for the region homologous to the MERS-CoV RBD core, but a high variation in the external receptor binding motif region for virus-specific pathogenesis such as receptor recognition.
Publication
Journal: PLoS Genetics
October/24/2005
Abstract
In glaucoma, harmful intraocular pressure often contributes to retinal ganglion cell death. It is not clear, however, if intraocular pressure directly insults the retinal ganglion cell axon, the soma, or both. The pathways that mediate pressure-induced retinal ganglion cell death are poorly defined, and no molecules are known to be required. DBA/2J mice deficient in the proapoptotic molecule BCL2-associated X protein (BAX) were used to investigate the roles of BAX-mediated cell death pathways in glaucoma. Both Bax+/- and Bax-/- mice were protected from retinal ganglion cell death. In contrast, axonal degeneration was not prevented in either Bax+/- or Bax-/- mice. While BAX deficiency did not prevent axonal degeneration, it did slow axonal loss. Additionally, we compared the effects of BAX deficiency on the glaucoma to its effects on retinal ganglion cell death due to two insults that are proposed to participate in glaucoma. As in the glaucoma, BAX deficiency protected retinal ganglion cells after axon injury by optic nerve crush. However, it did not protect retinal ganglion cells from N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-induced excitotoxicity. BAX is required for retinal ganglion cell death in an inherited glaucoma; however, it is not required for retinal ganglion cell axon degeneration. This indicates that distinct somal and axonal degeneration pathways are active in this glaucoma. Finally, our data support a role for optic nerve injury but not for NMDA receptor-mediated excitotoxicity in this glaucoma. These findings indicate a need to understand axon-specific degeneration pathways in glaucoma, and they suggest that distinct somal and axonal degeneration pathways may need to be targeted to save vision.
Publication
Journal: Nature
April/26/2005
Abstract
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is known to promote neuronal survival and differentiation and to guide axon extension both in vitro and in vivo. The BDNF-induced chemo-attraction of axonal growth cones requires Ca2+ signalling, but how Ca2+ is regulated by BDNF at the growth cone remains largely unclear. Extracellular application of BDNF triggers membrane currents resembling those through TRPC (transient receptor potential canonical) channels in rat pontine neurons and in Xenopus spinal neurons. Here, we report that in cultured cerebellar granule cells, TRPC channels contribute to the BDNF-induced elevation of Ca2+ at the growth cone and are required for BDNF-induced chemo-attractive turning. Several members of the TRPC family are highly expressed in these neurons, and both Ca2+ elevation and growth-cone turning induced by BDNF are abolished by pharmacological inhibition of TRPC channels, overexpression of a dominant-negative form of TRPC3 or TRPC6, or downregulation of TRPC3 expression via short interfering RNA. Thus, TRPC channel activity is essential for nerve-growth-cone guidance by BDNF.
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