bims-proarb Biomed News
on Proteostasis in Aging and Regenerative Biology
Issue of 2021‒06‒06
thirty-two papers selected by
Rich Giadone
Harvard University

  1. Nat Commun. 2021 05 31. 12(1): 3263
      A fundamental question in medical genetics is how the genetic background modifies the phenotypic outcome of mutations. We address this question by focusing on the seam cells, which display stem cell properties in the epidermis of Caenorhabditis elegans. We demonstrate that a putative null mutation in the GATA transcription factor egl-18, which is involved in seam cell fate maintenance, is more tolerated in the CB4856 isolate from Hawaii than the lab reference strain N2 from Bristol. We identify multiple quantitative trait loci (QTLs) underlying the difference in phenotype expressivity between the two isolates. These QTLs reveal cryptic genetic variation that reinforces seam cell fate through potentiating Wnt signalling. Within one QTL region, a single amino acid deletion in the heat shock protein HSP-110 in CB4856 is sufficient to modify Wnt signalling and seam cell development, highlighting that natural variation in conserved heat shock proteins can shape phenotype expressivity.
  2. Cells Dev. 2021 May 28. pii: S2667-2901(21)00034-6. [Epub ahead of print] 203687
      Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) have strong proliferative ability and multi-directional differentiation potential. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that is closely related to the loss of osteogenic differentiation function of BMSCs. Autophagy, plays a crucial role in the maintenance of cellular functions, but its regulatory mechanism during the osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs remains unclear. In this study, we analyzed the differential gene networks and pathways during BMSC osteogenesis using bioinformatics, and further validated the regulatory roles of autophagy during the osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs in inflammatory condition in vitro. We found that Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) treatment led to actin cytoskeleton rearrangements and inhibited osteogenic differentiation in BMSCs. In addition, TNF-α enhanced Rho-associated protein kinase 1 (ROCK1) expression and decreased autophagy activation. ROCK1 knockdown reduced Endoplasmic Reticulum stress (ER stress) and promoted autophagy, resulting reversion of osteogenic differentiation in BMSCs under inflammatory condition. Rapamycin reversed the TNF-α-induced decrease in osteogenesis of BMSCs, assessed by alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and Alizarin staining. Autophagy treated with inhibitor 3-Methyladenine (3-MA) further increased TNF-α-induced osteogenesis inhibition of BMSCs. Collectively, these results indicate that ER stress and dysfunction of autophagy promote inflammation-induced bone loss through the activation of ROCK1 signaling in BMSCs.
    Keywords:  BMSCs; ER stress/autophagy; Osteogenic differentiation; ROCK 1; TNF-α
  3. Autophagy. 2021 May 31. 1-29
      Mechanisms of protein homeostasis are crucial for overseeing the clearance of misfolded and toxic proteins over the lifetime of an organism, thereby ensuring the health of neurons and other cells of the central nervous system. The highly conserved pathway of autophagy is particularly necessary for preventing and counteracting pathogenic insults that may lead to neurodegeneration. In line with this, mutations in genes that encode essential autophagy factors result in impaired autophagy and lead to neurodegenerative conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, the mechanistic details underlying the neuroprotective role of autophagy, neuronal resistance to autophagy induction, and the neuron-specific effects of autophagy-impairing mutations remain incompletely defined. Further, the manner and extent to which non-cell autonomous effects of autophagy dysfunction contribute to ALS pathogenesis are not fully understood. Here, we review the current understanding of the interplay between autophagy and ALS pathogenesis by providing an overview of critical steps in the autophagy pathway, with special focus on pivotal factors impaired by ALS-causing mutations, their physiologic effects on autophagy in disease models, and the cell type-specific mechanisms regulating autophagy in non-neuronal cells which, when impaired, can contribute to neurodegeneration. This review thereby provides a framework not only to guide further investigations of neuronal autophagy but also to refine therapeutic strategies for ALS and related neurodegenerative diseases.Abbreviations: ALS: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Atg: autophagy-related; CHMP2B: charged multivesicular body protein 2B; DPR: dipeptide repeat; FTD: frontotemporal dementia; iPSC: induced pluripotent stem cell; LIR: LC3-interacting region; MAP1LC3/LC3: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3; MTOR: mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase; PINK1: PTEN induced kinase 1; RNP: ribonuclear protein; sALS: sporadic ALS; SPHK1: sphingosine kinase 1; TARDBP/TDP-43: TAR DNA binding protein; TBK1: TANK-binding kinase 1; TFEB: transcription factor EB; ULK: unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase; UPR: unfolded protein response; UPS: ubiquitin-proteasome system; VCP: valosin containing protein.
    Keywords:  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9orf72; CHMP2B; SQSTM1/p62; TBK1; macroautophagy; mitophagy; myelinophagy; neuronal autophagy; optineurin
  4. Aging Cell. 2021 Jun 05. e13411
      Age-related loss of muscle mass and strength is widely attributed to limitation in the capacity of muscle resident satellite cells to perform their myogenic function. This idea contains two notions that have not been comprehensively evaluated by experiment. First, it entails the idea that we damage and lose substantial amounts of muscle in the course of our normal daily activities. Second, it suggests that mechanisms of muscle repair are in some way exhausted, thus limiting muscle regeneration. A third potential option is that the aged environment becomes inimical to the conduct of muscle regeneration. In the present study, we used our established model of human muscle xenografting to test whether muscle samples taken from cadavers, of a range of ages, maintained their myogenic potential after being transplanted into immunodeficient mice. We find no measurable difference in regeneration across the range of ages investigated up to 78 years of age. Moreover, we report that satellite cells maintained their myogenic capacity even when muscles were grafted 11 days postmortem in our model. We conclude that the loss of muscle mass with increasing age is not attributable to any intrinsic loss of myogenicity and is most likely a reflection of progressive and detrimental changes in the muscle microenvironment such as to disfavor the myogenic function of these cells.
    Keywords:  aging; human satellite cells; muscle regeneration; myogenic capacity; sarcopenia
  5. J Cell Sci. 2021 Jun 01. pii: jcs258338. [Epub ahead of print]134(11):
      The toxic metalloid arsenic causes widespread misfolding and aggregation of cellular proteins. How these protein aggregates are formed in vivo, the mechanisms by which they affect cells and how cells prevent their accumulation is not fully understood. To find components involved in these processes, we performed a genome-wide imaging screen and identified Saccharomyces cerevisiae deletion mutants with either enhanced or reduced protein aggregation levels during arsenite exposure. We show that many of the identified factors are crucial to safeguard protein homeostasis (proteostasis) and to protect cells against arsenite toxicity. The hits were enriched for various functions including protein biosynthesis and transcription, and dedicated follow-up experiments highlight the importance of accurate transcriptional and translational control for mitigating protein aggregation and toxicity during arsenite stress. Some of the hits are associated with pathological conditions, suggesting that arsenite-induced protein aggregation may affect disease processes. The broad network of cellular systems that impinge on proteostasis during arsenic stress identified in this current study provides a valuable resource and a framework for further elucidation of the mechanistic details of metalloid toxicity and pathogenesis. This article has an associated First Person interview with the first authors of the paper.
    Keywords:  Arsenic; Protein aggregation; Protein misfolding; Protein quality control; Proteostasis; Transcription; Translation; Yeast
  6. Neurobiol Aging. 2021 Apr 28. pii: S0197-4580(21)00133-0. [Epub ahead of print]105 137-147
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the prevailing form of dementia. Protein degradation and antioxidant pathways have a critical role in preventing the accumulation of protein aggregation; thus, failure of proteostasis in neurons along with redox imbalance mark AD. Herein, we exploited an AD Drosophila model expressing human amyloid precursor (hAPP) and beta-secretase 1 (hBACE1) proteins, to better understand the role of proteostatic or antioxidant pathways in AD. Ubiquitous expression of hAPP, hBACE1 in flies caused more severe degenerative phenotypes versus neuronal targeted expression; it also, suppressed proteasome activity, increased oxidative stress and significantly enhanced stress-sensitivity. Overexpression of Prosβ5 proteasomal subunit or Nrf2 transcription factor in AD Drosophila flies partially restored proteasomal activity but did not rescue hAPP, hBACE1 induced neurodegeneration. On the other hand, expression of autophagy-related Atg8a in AD flies decelerated neurodegeneration, increased stress-resistance, and improved flies' health-/lifespan. Overall, our data suggest that the noxious effects of amyloid-beta aggregates can be alleviated by enhanced autophagy, thus dietary or pharmacological interventions that target autophagy should be considered in AD therapeutic approaches.
    Keywords:  APP; Alzheimer's disease; Drosophila; Nrf2; autophagy; proteasome
  7. Protein Cell. 2021 May 30.
      The hippocampus plays a crucial role in learning and memory, and its progressive deterioration with age is functionally linked to a variety of human neurodegenerative diseases. Yet a systematic profiling of the aging effects on various hippocampal cell types in primates is still missing. Here, we reported a variety of new aging-associated phenotypic changes of the primate hippocampus. These include, in particular, increased DNA damage and heterochromatin erosion with time, alongside loss of proteostasis and elevated inflammation. To understand their cellular and molecular causes, we established the first single-nucleus transcriptomic atlas of primate hippocampal aging. Among the 12 identified cell types, neural transiently amplifying progenitor cell (TAPC) and microglia were most affected by aging. In-depth dissection of gene-expression dynamics revealed impaired TAPC division and compromised neuronal function along the neurogenesis trajectory; additionally elevated pro-inflammatory responses in the aged microglia and oligodendrocyte, as well as dysregulated coagulation pathways in the aged endothelial cells may contribute to a hostile microenvironment for neurogenesis. This rich resource for understanding primate hippocampal aging may provide potential diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic interventions against age-related neurodegenerative diseases.
    Keywords:  aging; hippocampus; primate; single-cell RNA sequencing
  8. ACS Omega. 2021 May 25. 6(20): 13033-13056
      The accumulation and propagation of hyperphosphorylated tau (p-Tau) is a neuropathological hallmark occurring with neurodegeneration of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Extracellular vesicles, exosomes, have been shown to initiate tau propagation in the brain. Notably, exosomes from human-induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) neurons expressing the AD familial A246E mutant form of presenilin 1 (mPS1) are capable of inducing tau deposits in the mouse brain after in vivo injection. To gain insights into the exosome proteome cargo that participates in propagating tau pathology, this study conducted proteomic analysis of exosomes produced by human iPSC neurons expressing A246E mPS1. Significantly, mPS1 altered the profile of exosome cargo proteins to result in (1) proteins present only in mPS1 exosomes and not in controls, (2) the absence of proteins in the mPS1 exosomes which were present only in controls, and (3) shared proteins which were upregulated or downregulated in the mPS1 exosomes compared to controls. These results show that mPS1 dysregulates the proteome cargo of exosomes to result in the acquisition of proteins involved in the extracellular matrix and protease functions, deletion of proteins involved in RNA and protein translation systems along with proteasome and related functions, combined with the upregulation and downregulation of shared proteins, including the upregulation of amyloid precursor protein. Notably, mPS1 neuron-derived exosomes displayed altered profiles of protein phosphatases and kinases involved in regulating the status of p-tau. The dysregulation of exosome cargo proteins by mPS1 may be associated with the ability of mPS1 neuron-derived exosomes to propagate tau pathology.
  9. Cell Biol Toxicol. 2021 May 31.
      Autophagy is a mechanism responsible for the degradation of cellular components to maintain their homeostasis. However, autophagy is commonly altered and compromised in several diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders. Parkinson's disease (PD) can be considered a multifactorial disease because environmental factors, genetic factors, and aging are involved. Several genes are involved in PD pathology, among which the LRRK2 gene and its mutations, inherited in an autosomal dominant manner, are responsible for most genetic PD cases. The R1441G LRRK2 mutation is, after G2019S, the most important in PD pathogenesis. Our results demonstrate a relationship between the R1441G LRRK2 mutation and a mechanistic dysregulation of autophagy that compromises cell viability. This altered autophagy mechanism is associated with organellar stress including mitochondrial (which induces mitophagy) and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, consistent with the fact that patients with this mutation are more vulnerable to toxins related to PD, such as MPP+.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; MAMs; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Neurodegeneration; Parkinson disease
  10. Cell Metab. 2021 Jun 01. pii: S1550-4131(21)00224-2. [Epub ahead of print]33(6): 1067-1069
      Skeletal muscle secretes numerous systemic factors, termed myokines, which can regulate homeostasis of distal tissues. In this issue, Rai et al. (2021) identify and characterize a novel myokine, Amyrel, which is secreted under muscle proteasome stress and protects central nervous system health and function by enhancing protein quality control during aging.
  11. Front Physiol. 2021 ;12 651105
      Varying degrees of central nervous system neuropathy induced by diabetes mellitus (DM) contribute to a cognitive disorder known as diabetic encephalopathy (DE), which is also one of the independent risk factors for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) plays a critical role in the occurrence and development of DE and AD. However, its molecular mechanism remains largely unknown. This study aims to investigate whether thioredoxin-1 (Trx-1) could alleviate DE and AD through ERS, oxidative stress (OS) and apoptosis signaling pathways. Mice were randomly divided into a wild-type group (WT-NC), a streptozotocin (STZ)-treated DM group (WT-DM), a Trx-1-TG group (TG-NC) and a Trx-1-TG DM group (TG-DM). Diabetic animals showed an increase in the time spent in the target quadrant and the number of platform crossings as well as AD-like behavior in the water maze experiment. The immunocontent of the AD-related protein Tau and the levels of cell apoptosis, β-amyloid (Aβ) plaque formation and neuronal degeneration in the hippocampus of the diabetic group were increased. Some key factors associated with ERS, such as protein disulfide isomerase (PDI), glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78), inositol-requiring enzyme 1α (IRE1α), tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 2 (TRAF2), apoptosis signal-regulating kinase-1 (ASK1), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), protein kinase RNA (PKR)-like ER kinase (PERK), and C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP), were upregulated, and other factors related to anti-oxidant stress, such as nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor (Nrf2), were downregulated in the DM group. Moreover, DM caused an increase in the immunocontents of caspase-3 and caspase-12. However, these changes were reversed in the Trx-1-tg DM group. Therefore, we conclude that Trx-1 might be a key factor in alleviating DE and AD by regulating ERS and oxidative stress response, thus preventing apoptosis.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; diabetic encephalopathy; endoplasmic reticulum stress; oxidative stress; thioredoxin-1
  12. PLoS One. 2021 ;16(6): e0252607
      Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) consist of a core protein with side chains of the glycosaminoglycan heparan sulfate (HS). We have previously identified (i) the HSPGs syndecan-1 (SDC1), and collagen type XVIII (COL18) inside mouse and human islet beta cells, and (ii) a critical role for HS in beta cell survival and protection from reactive oxygen species (ROS). The objective of this study was to investigate whether endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress contributes to oxidative stress and type 2 diabetes (T2D) by depleting beta cell HSPGs/HS. A rapid loss of intra-islet/beta cell HSPGs, HS and heparanase (HPSE, an HS-degrading enzyme) accompanied upregulation of islet ER stress gene expression in both young T2D-prone db/db and Akita Ins2WT/C96Y mice. In MIN6 beta cells, HSPGs, HS and HPSE were reduced following treatment with pharmacological inducers of ER stress (thapsigargin or tunicamycin). Treatment of young db/db mice with Tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA), a chemical protein folding chaperone that relieves ER stress, improved glycemic control and increased intra-islet HSPG/HS. In vitro, HS replacement with heparin (a highly sulfated HS analogue) significantly increased the survival of wild-type and db/db beta cells and restored their resistance to hydrogen peroxide-induced death. We conclude that ER stress inhibits the synthesis/maturation of HSPG core proteins which are essential for HS assembly, thereby exacerbating oxidative stress and promoting beta cell failure. Diminished intracellular HSPGs/HS represent a previously unrecognized critical link bridging ER stress, oxidative stress and beta cell failure in T2D.
  13. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 04.
      Efficient degradation of autophagic vacuoles (AVs) generated at axon terminals by mature lysosomes enriched in the cell body represents an exceptional challenge that neurons face in maintaining cellular homeostasis. Here, we discuss our recent findings revealing a lipid-mediated impairment of lysosome transport to distal axons contributing to axonal AV accumulation in the neurodegenerative lysosomal storage disorder Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC). Using transmission electron microscopy, we observed a striking buildup of endocytic and autophagic organelles in NPC dystrophic axons, indicating defects in the clearance of organelles destined for lysosomal degradation. We further revealed that elevated cholesterol on NPC lysosome membranes abnormally sequesters motor-adaptors of axonal lysosome delivery, resulting in impaired anterograde lysosome transport into distal axons that disrupts maturation of axonal AVs during their retrograde transport route. Together, our study demonstrates a mechanism by which altered membrane lipid composition compromises axonal lysosome trafficking and positioning and shows that lowering lysosomal lipid levels rescues lysosome transport into NPC axons, thus reducing axonal autophagic stress at early stages of NPC disease.
    Keywords:  Niemann-Pick disease type C; autophagy; axonal dystrophy; axonal transport; cholesterol; kinesin; lipid; lysosomal storage disorder; lysosome; neurodegeneration
  14. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 May 27. pii: 5753. [Epub ahead of print]22(11):
      Mitochondrial function is at the nexus of pathways regulating synaptic-plasticity and cellular resilience. The involvement of brain mitochondrial dysfunction along with increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, accumulating mtDNA mutations, and attenuated autophagy is implicated in psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. We have previously modeled mild mitochondrial dysfunction assumed to occur in bipolar disorder (BPD) using exposure of human neuronal cells (SH-SY5Y) to rotenone (an inhibitor of mitochondrial-respiration complex-I) for 72 and 96 h, which exhibited up- and down-regulation of mitochondrial respiration, respectively. In this study, we aimed to find out whether autophagy enhancers (lithium, trehalose, rapamycin, and resveratrol) and/or ROS scavengers [resveratrol, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), and Mn-Tbap) can ameliorate neuronal mild mitochondrial dysfunction. Only lithium (added for the last 24/48 h of the exposure to rotenone for 72/96 h, respectively) counteracted the effect of rotenone on most of the mitochondrial respiration parameters (measured as oxygen consumption rate (OCR)). Rapamycin, resveratrol, NAC, and Mn-Tbap counteracted most of rotenone's effects on OCR parameters after 72 h, possibly via different mechanisms, which are not necessarily related to their ROS scavenging and/or autophagy enhancement effects. The effect of lithium reversing rotenone's effect on OCR parameters is compatible with lithium's known positive effects on mitochondrial function and is possibly mediated via its effect on autophagy. By-and-large it may be summarized that some autophagy enhancers/ROS scavengers alleviate some rotenone-induced mild mitochondrial changes in SH-SY5Y cells.
    Keywords:  ROS scavengers; autophagy enhancers; bipolar disorder; mitochondrial dysfunction; rotenone
  15. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2021 May 28. pii: S0006-291X(21)00845-7. [Epub ahead of print]563 8-14
      Although accumulating evidence indicates participation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress pathway or the unfolded protein response (UPR) in immunity, there still exists little information linking ER stress to regulatory T cells (Tregs). To evaluate the potential contribution of the UPR, we tested the effects of thapsigargin (TG), an ER stress inducer, on the function of Tregs. Here we reported that TG stimulation induced the up-regulation of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-stress chaperon Glucose-Regulated Protein 78 (GRP78), which is a master regulator of the UPR, the phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 alpha (elF2α) and the induction of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4), which are both protein kinase R (PKR)-like ER kinase (PERK) downstream targets in Tregs. Simultaneously, we demonstrated that, under ER stress conditions, Tregs presented enhanced functional activity upon TCR stimulation, as illustrated with forkhead box transcription factor (Foxp3) expression, interleukin-10 (IL-10) and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) production and suppressive functional analysis. Notably, pretreatment with GSK2656157, a potent and selective PERK inhibitor, markedly diminished the TG-induced hyperresponsiveness of Tregs upon T cell antigen receptor (TCR) stimulation. Therefore, our findings illustrated the inter-connection and coordination of the evolutionarily conserved ER stress response and TCR signaling in Tregs and uncover a critical new role of the PERK branch of UPR in the regulation of Tregs function.
    Keywords:  ER stress; GRP78; PERK; Tregs; UPR
  16. Commun Biol. 2021 Jun 02. 4(1): 656
      Pharmacological reversal of brain aging is a long-sought yet challenging strategy for the prevention and treatment of age-related neurodegeneration, due to the diverse cell types and complex cellular pathways impacted by the aging process. Here, we report the genome-wide reversal of transcriptomic aging signatures in multiple major brain cell types, including glial and mural cells, by systemic glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonist (GLP-1RA) treatment. The age-related expression changes reversed by GLP-1RA encompass both shared and cell type-specific functional pathways that are implicated in aging and neurodegeneration. Concomitantly, Alzheimer's disease (AD)-associated transcriptomic signature in microglia that arises from aging is reduced. These results show the feasibility of reversing brain aging by pharmacological means, provide mechanistic insights into the neurological benefits of GLP-1RAs, and imply that GLP-1R agonism may be a generally applicable pharmacological intervention for patients at risk of age-related neurodegeneration.
  17. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2021 Jun 03. ATVBAHA120314643
      Extracellular vesicles (EVs), important mediators of intercellular communication, play a critical role in modulating hematopoiesis within the bone marrow microenvironment. Although few studies have explicitly examined the connections between EVs and hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) aging, there is a growing body of evidence that implicates EVs in numerous age-related biologic processes and diseases. This, coupled with their tremendous capacity to influence hematopoiesis, suggests EVs may be key mediators of HSC aging. This review provides an overview of the effects of aging on HSCs, the role of EVs in aging in general, and then details key work in EV modulation of normal and malignant hematopoiesis, with a particular focus on how these effects may translate into the ability of EVs to drive HSC aging. Finally, it describes an exciting emerging literature that provides direct evidence for EV modulation of HSC phenotypes during natural aging and highlights their potential in HSC rejuvenation. Taken collectively, this body of research has profound implications for the future of HSC aging studies. More clearly defining how EVs modify HSC function in an age-dependent fashion and determining the molecular mechanisms by which they drive these age-related HSC phenotype changes will undoubtedly yield innovative strategies to delay or even reverse age-related hematologic dysfunction.
    Keywords:  aging; extracellular vesicles; hematopoiesis; phenotype; stem cell
  18. Brain Res. 2021 May 28. pii: S0006-8993(21)00397-8. [Epub ahead of print]1766 147540
      Mutation in proteins containing polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts has been shown to underlie a number of severe human neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington's Disease and Spinocerebellar Ataxia. In this study, we identify and describe FAM171B as a novel polyQ protein containing fourteen consecutive glutamine residues in its National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) referenced sequence. Utilizing western blotting, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry, we demonstrate that FAM171B is widely expressed in mouse brain with pronounced localization in the hippocampus, cerebellum, and cerebral cortex. Furthermore, immunofluorescence experiments reveal that FAM171B predominantly localizes to vesicle-like structures in the cytoplasm of neurons. Finally, bioinformatic analysis suggests that FAM171B is robustly expressed in human brain, and (similar to other polyQ disease genes) its polyQ tract is polymorphic within the general human population. Thus, as a polyQ protein that is expressed in brain, FAM171B should be considered a candidate gene for an as yet molecularly uncharacterized neurodegenerative disease.
    Keywords:  Brain; CAG repeat; FAM171B; Huntington’s disease; Polyglutamine; Polymorphism
  19. Front Aging Neurosci. 2021 ;13 690613
    Keywords:  aging; brain; regeneration; stem cells; transplantation
  20. Commun Biol. 2021 Jun 03. 4(1): 681
      T cells rely for their development and function on the correct folding and turnover of proteins generated in response to a broad range of molecular cues. In the absence of the eukaryotic type II chaperonin complex, CCT, T cell activation induced changes in the proteome are compromised including the formation of nuclear actin filaments and the formation of a normal cell stress response. Consequently, thymocyte maturation and selection, and T cell homeostatic maintenance and receptor-mediated activation are severely impaired. In the absence of CCT-controlled protein folding, Th2 polarization diverges from normal differentiation with paradoxical continued IFN-γ expression. As a result, CCT-deficient T cells fail to generate an efficient immune protection against helminths as they are unable to sustain a coordinated recruitment of the innate and adaptive immune systems. These findings thus demonstrate that normal T cell biology is critically dependent on CCT-controlled proteostasis and that its absence is incompatible with protective immunity.
  21. Front Neurosci. 2021 ;15 666710
      Astrocytes, through their numerous processes, establish a bidirectional communication with neurons that is crucial to regulate synaptic plasticity, the purported neurophysiological basis of memory. This evidence contributed to change the classic "neurocentric" view of Alzheimer's disease (AD), being astrocytes increasingly considered a key player in this neurodegenerative disease. AD, the most common form of dementia in the elderly, is characterized by a deterioration of memory and of other cognitive functions. Although, early cognitive deficits have been associated with synaptic loss and dysfunction caused by amyloid-β peptides (Aβ), accumulating evidences support a role of astrocytes in AD. Astrocyte atrophy and reactivity occurring at early and later stages of AD, respectively, involve morphological alterations that translate into functional changes. However, the main signals responsible for astrocytic alterations in AD and their impact on synaptic function remain to be defined. One possible candidate is adenosine, which can be formed upon extracellular catabolism of ATP released by astrocytes. Adenosine can act as a homeostatic modulator and also as a neuromodulator at the synaptic level, through the activation of adenosine receptors, mainly of A1R and A2A R subtypes. These receptors are also present in astrocytes, being particularly relevant in pathological conditions, to control the morphofunctional responses of astrocytes. Here, we will focus on the role of A2A R, since they are particularly associated with neurodegeneration and also with memory processes. Furthermore, A2A R levels are increased in the AD brain, namely in astrocytes where they can control key astrocytic functions. Thus, unveiling the role of A2A R in astrocytes function might shed light on novel therapeutic strategies for AD.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; adenosine A2A receptors; amyloid-β protein; astrocyte reactivity; cognitive deficits; synaptic plasticity
  22. Nanomaterials (Basel). 2021 May 04. pii: 1216. [Epub ahead of print]11(5):
      Strategies to increase the proportion of neural stem cells that differentiate into neurons are vital for therapy of neurodegenerative disorders. In vitro, the extracellular matrix composition and topography have been found to be important factors in stem cell differentiation. We have developed a novel artificial extracellular matrix (aECM) formed by attaching gold nanocages (AuNCs) to glass coverslips. After culturing rat neural stem cells (rNSCs) on these gold nanocage-coated surfaces (AuNC-aECMs), we observed that 44.6% of rNSCs differentiated into neurons compared to only 27.9% for cells grown on laminin-coated glass coverslips. We applied laser irradiation to the AuNC-aECMs to introduce precise amounts of photothermally induced heat shock in cells. Our results showed that laser-induced thermal stimulation of AuNC-aECMs further enhanced neuronal differentiation (56%) depending on the laser intensity used. Response to these photothermal effects increased the expression of heat shock protein 27, 70, and 90α in rNSCs. Analysis of dendritic complexity showed that this thermal stimulation promoted neuronal maturation by increasing dendrite length as thermal dose was increased. In addition, we found that cells growing on AuNC-aECMs post laser irradiation exhibited action potentials and increased the expression of voltage-gated Na+ channels compared to laminin-coated glass coverslips. These results indicate that the photothermal response induced in cells growing on AuNC-aECMs can be used to produce large quantities of functional neurons, with improved electrochemical properties, that can potentially be transplanted into a damaged central nervous system to provide replacement neurons and restore lost function.
    Keywords:  artificial extracellular matrix; gold nanocages; neuronal differentiation; neuronal maturation; photothermal
  23. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Jun 01. 13
      Vascular dementia (VaD) is a progressive cognitive impairment of vascular etiology. VaD is characterized by cerebral hypoperfusion, increased blood-brain barrier permeability and white matter lesions. An increased burden of VaD is expected in rapidly aging populations. The hippocampus is particularly susceptible to hypoperfusion, and the resulting memory impairment may play a crucial role in VaD. Here we have investigated the hippocampal gene expression profile of young and old mice subjected to cerebral hypoperfusion by bilateral common carotid artery stenosis (BCAS). Our data in sham-operated young and aged mice reveal an age-associated decline in cerebral blood flow and differential gene expression. In fact, BCAS and aging caused broadly similar effects. However, BCAS-induced changes in hippocampal gene expression differed between young and aged mice. Specifically, transcriptomic analysis indicated that in comparison to young sham mice, many pathways altered by BCAS in young mice resembled those already present in sham aged mice. Over 30 days, BCAS in aged mice had minimal effect on either cerebral blood flow or hippocampal gene expression. Immunoblot analyses confirmed these findings. Finally, relative to young sham mice the cell type-specific profile of genes in both young BCAS and old sham animals further revealed common cell-specific genes. Our data provide a genetic-based molecular framework for hypoperfusion-induced hippocampal damage and reveal common cellular signaling pathways likely to be important in the pathophysiology of VaD.
    Keywords:  aging; brain; chronic cerebral hypoperfusion; transcriptome; vascular dementia
  24. Cell Chem Biol. 2021 May 22. pii: S2451-9456(21)00223-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Degrader technologies, which enable the chemical knockdown of disease-causing proteins, are promising for drug discovery. After two decades of research, degraders using the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) are currently in clinical trials. However, the UPS substrates are mainly limited to soluble proteins. Autophagy-targeting chimeras and autophagosome-tethering compounds are degraders that use autophagy, which has functions complementary to the UPS. They can degrade organelles and aggregate-prone proteins, making them promising treatments against age-related conditions such as mitochondrial dysfunction and neurodegenerative diseases. The molecular mechanism of selective autophagy is an ongoing research topic, which explains why autophagy-based degraders were not available until recently. In this review, we introduce four classifications of selective autophagy mechanisms to facilitate the understanding of the degrader design.
    Keywords:  ATTEC; AUTAC; LLPS; S-guanylation; aggregates; autophagy; degrader; mitochondria; p62; ubiquitin
  25. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 May 17. pii: 794. [Epub ahead of print]10(5):
      Mitochondrial dysfunction is a hallmark of aging. Dysfunctional mitochondria are recognized and degraded by a selective type of macroautophagy, named mitophagy. One of the main factors contributing to aging is oxidative stress, and one of the early responses to excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) production is the induction of mitophagy to remove damaged mitochondria. However, mitochondrial damage caused at least in part by chronic oxidative stress can accumulate, and autophagic and mitophagic pathways can become overwhelmed. The imbalance of the delicate equilibrium among mitophagy, ROS production and mitochondrial damage can start, drive, or accelerate the aging process, either in physiological aging, or in pathological age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. It remains to be determined which is the prime mover of this imbalance, i.e., whether it is the mitochondrial damage caused by ROS that initiates the dysregulation of mitophagy, thus activating a vicious circle that leads to the reduced ability to remove damaged mitochondria, or an alteration in the regulation of mitophagy leading to the excessive production of ROS by damaged mitochondria.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer; PINK1; Parkinson; Reactive Oxygen Species; aging; mitochondria; mitophagy
  26. J Cell Mol Med. 2021 Jun;25(11): 5050-5059
      Nesfatin-1 (encoded by NUCB2) is a cardiac peptide possessing protective activities against myocardial ischaemia/reperfusion (MI/R) injury. However, the regulation of NUCB2/nesfatin-1 and the molecular mechanisms underlying its roles in MI/R injury are not clear. Here, by investigating a mouse MI/R injury model developed with transient myocardial ischaemia followed by reperfusion, we found that the levels of NUCB2 transcript and nesfatin-1 amount in the heart were both decreased, suggesting a transcriptional repression of NUCB2/nesfatin-1 in response to MI/R injury. Moreover, cardiac nesfatin-1 restoration reduced infarct size, troponin T (cTnT) level and myocardial apoptosis, supporting its cardioprotection against MI/R injury in vivo. Mechanistically, the Akt/ERK pathway was activated, and in contrast, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress was attenuated by nesfatin-1 following MI/R injury. In an in vitro system, similar results were obtained in nesfatin-1-treated H9c2 cardiomyocytes with hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R) injury. More importantly, the treatment of wortmannin, an inhibitor of Akt/ERK pathway, abrogated nesfatin-1 effects on attenuating ER stress and H/R injury in H9c2 cells. Furthermore, nesfatin-1-mediated protection against H/R injury also vanished in the presence of tunicamycin (TM), an ER stress inducer. Lastly, Akt/ERK inhibition reversed nesfatin-1 effects on mouse ER stress and MI/R injury in vivo. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that NUCB2/nesfatin-1 inhibits MI/R injury through attenuating ER stress, which relies on Akt/ERK pathway activation. Hence, our study provides a molecular basis for understanding how NUCB2/nesfatin-1 reduces MI/R injury.
    Keywords:  Akt/ERK pathway; NUCB2/nesfatin-1; endoplasmic reticulum stress; myocardial ischaemia/reperfusion injury
  27. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 May 20. pii: 5391. [Epub ahead of print]22(10):
      Small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO)-targeted E3 ubiquitin ligases (STUbLs) are specialized enzymes that recognize SUMOylated proteins and attach ubiquitin to them. They therefore connect the cellular SUMOylation and ubiquitination circuits. STUbLs participate in diverse molecular processes that span cell cycle regulated events, including DNA repair, replication, mitosis, and transcription. They operate during unperturbed conditions and in response to challenges, such as genotoxic stress. These E3 ubiquitin ligases modify their target substrates by catalyzing ubiquitin chains that form different linkages, resulting in proteolytic or non-proteolytic outcomes. Often, STUbLs function in compartmentalized environments, such as the nuclear envelope or kinetochore, and actively aid in nuclear relocalization of damaged DNA and stalled replication forks to promote DNA repair or fork restart. Furthermore, STUbLs reside in the same vicinity as SUMO proteases and deubiquitinases (DUBs), providing spatiotemporal control of their targets. In this review, we focus on the molecular mechanisms by which STUbLs help to maintain genome stability across different species.
    Keywords:  RNF111; RNF4; STUbL; SUMO; Slx5/Slx8; genome stability; ubiquitin
  28. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jun 08. pii: e2024605118. [Epub ahead of print]118(23):
      Profilin-1 (PFN1) plays important roles in modulating actin dynamics through binding both monomeric actin and proteins enriched with polyproline motifs. Mutations in PFN1 have been linked to the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, whether ALS-linked mutations affect PFN1 function has remained unclear. To address this question, we employed an unbiased proteomics analysis in mammalian cells to identify proteins that differentially interact with mutant and wild-type (WT) PFN1. These studies uncovered differential binding between two ALS-linked PFN1 variants, G118V and M114T, and select formin proteins. Furthermore, both variants augmented formin-mediated actin assembly relative to PFN1 WT. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed mutation-induced changes in the internal dynamic couplings within an alpha helix of PFN1 that directly contacts both actin and polyproline, as well as structural fluctuations within the actin- and polyproline-binding regions of PFN1. These data indicate that ALS-PFN1 variants have the potential for heightened flexibility in the context of the ternary actin-PFN1-polyproline complex during actin assembly. Conversely, PFN1 C71G was more severely destabilized than the other PFN1 variants, resulting in reduced protein expression in both transfected and ALS patient lymphoblast cell lines. Moreover, this variant exhibited loss-of-function phenotypes in the context of actin assembly. Perturbations in actin dynamics and assembly can therefore result from ALS-linked mutations in PFN1. However, ALS-PFN1 variants may dysregulate actin polymerization through different mechanisms that depend upon the solubility and stability of the mutant protein.
    Keywords:  actin dynamics; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; formins; profilin-1; protein misfolding
  29. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 May 24. pii: 5559. [Epub ahead of print]22(11):
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is thought to be caused by amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation in the central nervous system due to deficient clearance. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of ganoderic acid A (GAA) on Aβ clearance in microglia and its anti-AD activity. Aβ degradation in BV2 microglial cells was determined using an intracellular Aβ clearance assay. GAA stimulated autophagosome formation via the Axl receptor tyrosine kinase (Axl)/RAC/CDC42-activated kinase 1 (Pak1) pathway was determined by Western blot analyses, and fluorescence-labeled Aβ42 was localized in lysosomes in confocal laser microscopy images. The in vivo anti-AD activity of GAA was evaluated by object recognition and Morris water maze (MWM) tests in an AD mouse model following intracerebroventricular injection of aggregated Aβ42. The autophagy level in the hippocampus was assayed by immunohistochemical assessment against microtubule-associated proteins 1A/1B light-chain 3B (LC3B). Intracellular Aβ42 levels were significantly reduced by GAA treatment in microglial cells. Additionally, GAA activated autophagy according to increased LC3B-II levels, with this increased autophagy stimulated by upregulating Axl and Pak1 phosphorylation. The effect of eliminating Aβ by GAA through autophagy was reversed by R428, an Axl inhibitor, or IPA-3, a Pak1 inhibitor. Consistent with the cell-based assay, GAA ameliorated cognitive deficiency and reduced Aβ42 levels in an AD mouse model. Furthermore, LC3B expression in the hippocampus was up-regulated by GAA treatment, with these GAA-specific effects abolished by R428. GAA promoted Aβ clearance by enhancing autophagy via the Axl/Pak1 signaling pathway in microglial cells and ameliorated cognitive deficiency in an AD mouse model.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; Axl; amyloid β; autophagy; ganoderic acid A
  30. Behav Brain Res. 2021 May 27. pii: S0166-4328(21)00274-6. [Epub ahead of print]411 113386
      The prion glycoprotein (PrPC) is highly expressed in the nervous system as well as in other organs. Its functional roles in behavior have been examined mainly in non co-isogenic, wild-type and PrPC-deficient mice, which showed both age- and genotype-dependent differences. In general, however, effects of genetic background upon behavioral tests are mostly unclear when applied to aging rodents. The present study aimed to determine the effect of deletion of the prion protein on behavior of isogenic mice across different ages. We disclosed a genotype-dependent behavioral dissociation between either motor or cognitive tests, as a function of both age and test type. Remarkably, we also detected a clear age- and genotype-dependent difference in the variability of performance in a cognitive test. The current findings are relevant for both the interpretation of PrPC-related behavior, as well as for issues of reproducibility in studies of rodent behavior.
    Keywords:  Aging; Memory; Motor behavior; Prion protein
  31. Sci Rep. 2021 Jun 03. 11(1): 11720
      Synucleinopathies are neurodegenerative diseases in which α-synuclein protein accumulates in neurons and glia. In these diseases, α-synuclein forms dense intracellular aggregates that are disease hallmarks and actively contribute to tissue pathology. Interestingly, many pathological mechanisms, including iron accumulation and lipid peroxidation, are shared between classical synucleinopathies such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). However, to date, no studies have determined if α-synuclein accumulation occurs after human SCI. To examine this, cross-sections from injured and non-injured human spinal cords were immunolabeled for α-synuclein. This showed robust α-synuclein accumulation in profiles resembling axons and astrocytes in tissue surrounding the injury, revealing that α-synuclein markedly aggregates in traumatically injured human spinal cords. We also detected significant iron deposition in the injury site, a known catalyst for α-synuclein aggregation. Next a rodent SCI model mimicking the histological features of human SCI revealed aggregates and structurally altered monomers of α-synuclein are present after SCI. To determine if α-synuclein exacerbates SCI pathology, α-synuclein knockout mice were tested. Compared to wild type mice, α-synuclein knockout mice had significantly more spared axons and neurons and lower pro-inflammatory mediators, macrophage accumulation, and iron deposition in the injured spinal cord. Interestingly, locomotor analysis revealed that α-synuclein may be essential for dopamine-mediated hindlimb function after SCI. Collectively, the marked upregulation and long-lasting accumulation of α-synuclein and iron suggests that SCI may fit within the family of synucleinopathies and offer new therapeutic targets for promoting neuron preservation and improving function after spinal trauma.
  32. Biomolecules. 2021 May 22. pii: 779. [Epub ahead of print]11(6):
      Although ubiquitination is widely assumed to be the only regulated step in the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, recent studies have demonstrated several important mechanisms that regulate the activities of the 26S proteasome. Most proteasomes in cells are inactive but, upon binding a ubiquitinated substrate, become activated by a two-step mechanism requiring an association of the ubiquitin chain with Usp14 and then a loosely folded protein domain with the ATPases. The initial activation step is signaled by Usp14's UBL domain, and many UBL-domain-containing proteins (e.g., Rad23, Parkin) also activate the proteasome. ZFAND5 is a distinct type of activator that binds ubiquitin conjugates and the proteasome and stimulates proteolysis during muscle atrophy. The proteasome's activities are also regulated through subunit phosphorylation. Agents that raise cAMP and activate PKA stimulate within minutes Rpn6 phosphorylation and enhance the selective degradation of short-lived proteins. Likewise, hormones, fasting, and exercise, which raise cAMP, activate proteasomes and proteolysis in target tissues. Agents that raise cGMP and activate PKG also stimulate 26S activities but modify different subunit(s) and stimulate also the degradation of long-lived cell proteins. Both kinases enhance the selective degradation of aggregation-prone proteins that cause neurodegenerative diseases. These new mechanisms regulating proteolysis thus have clear physiological importance and therapeutic potential.
    Keywords:  PKA; PKG; Rad23; UBL-domain-containing proteins; Usp14; ZFAND5; ubiquitin–proteasome system