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Variants of unknown significance on chromosomal microarray analysis: parental perspectives.

February 11, 2015 - 8:56am

Variants of unknown significance on chromosomal microarray analysis: parental perspectives.

J Community Genet. 2015 Feb 10;

Authors: Jez S, Martin M, South S, Vanzo R, Rothwell E

Abstract
Chromosomal microarray is the recommended first-tier genetic test when a child presents with idiopathic developmental delay (DD), intellectual disability (ID), and/or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Microarray may discover variants of unknown clinical significance (VUS) and been suggested to cause parental stress and anxiety. A retrospective, mixed methods study investigated parental perceptions of chromosomal microarray results that contain VUS. Surveys were sent to parents of children with DD/ID/ASD following a VUS result to seek information regarding parental understanding of the result, perceived value, and perceptions of child vulnerability and parental stress. Parents reported that chromosomal microarray was important for understanding their child's diagnosis and they were satisfied with the information. A majority of parents reported high confidence in their ability to explain a VUS result to others. Of the parents who reported they received support, many reported that the support was from a genetic counselor. Based on these results, VUS results are important to parents of children with DD/ID/ASD and genetic counseling regarding VUS results contributes positively to both parental understanding and support.

PMID: 25666435 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Cognitive and Neurobehavioral Profile in Boys With Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

February 11, 2015 - 8:56am
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Cognitive and Neurobehavioral Profile in Boys With Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

J Child Neurol. 2015 Feb 6;

Authors: Banihani R, Smile S, Yoon G, Dupuis A, Mosleh M, Snider A, McAdam L

Abstract
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a progressive neuromuscular condition that has a high rate of cognitive and learning disabilities as well as neurobehavioral disorders, some of which have been associated with disruption of dystrophin isoforms. Retrospective cohort of 59 boys investigated the cognitive and neurobehavioral profile of boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Full-scale IQ of < 70 was seen in 27%; learning disability in 44%, intellectual disability in 19%; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in 32%; autism spectrum disorders in 15%; and anxiety in 27%. Mutations affecting Dp260 isoform and 5'untranslated region of Dp140 were observed in 60% with learning disability, 50% intellectual disability, 77% with autism spectrum disorders, and 94% with anxiety. No statistically significant correlation was noted between comorbidities and dystrophin isoforms; however, there is a trend of cumulative loss of dystrophin isoforms with declining full-scale IQ. Enhanced psychology testing to include both cognitive and neurobehavioral disorders is recommended for all individuals with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

PMID: 25660133 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Concise review: Fragile X proteins in stem cell maintenance and differentiation.

February 11, 2015 - 8:56am
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Concise review: Fragile X proteins in stem cell maintenance and differentiation.

Stem Cells. 2014 Jul;32(7):1724-33

Authors: Li Y, Zhao X

Abstract
Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common genetic form of autism spectrum disorder, is caused by deficiency of the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP). Despite extensive research and scientific progress, understanding how FMRP regulates brain development and function remains a major challenge. FMRP is a neuronal RNA-binding protein that binds about a third of messenger RNAs in the brain and controls their translation, stability, and cellular localization. The absence of FMRP results in increased protein synthesis, leading to enhanced signaling in a number of intracellular pathways, including the mTOR, mGLuR5, ERK, Gsk3β, PI3K, and insulin pathways. Until recently, FXS was largely considered a deficit of mature neurons; however, a number of new studies have shown that FMRP may also play important roles in stem cells, among them neural stem cells, germline stem cells, and pluripotent stem cells. In this review, we will cover these newly discovered functions of FMRP, as well as the other two fragile X-related proteins, in stem cells. We will also discuss the literature on the use of stem cells, particularly neural stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, as model systems for studying the functions of FMRP in neuronal development.

PMID: 24648324 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Neuronal Tsc1/2 complex controls autophagy through AMPK-dependent regulation of ULK1.

February 11, 2015 - 8:56am
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Neuronal Tsc1/2 complex controls autophagy through AMPK-dependent regulation of ULK1.

Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Jul 15;23(14):3865-74

Authors: Di Nardo A, Wertz MH, Kwiatkowski E, Tsai PT, Leech JD, Greene-Colozzi E, Goto J, Dilsiz P, Talos DM, Clish CB, Kwiatkowski DJ, Sahin M

Abstract
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a disorder arising from mutation in the TSC1 or TSC2 gene, characterized by the development of hamartomas in various organs and neurological manifestations including epilepsy, intellectual disability and autism. TSC1/2 protein complex negatively regulates the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) a master regulator of protein synthesis, cell growth and autophagy. Autophagy is a cellular quality-control process that sequesters cytosolic material in double membrane vesicles called autophagosomes and degrades it in autolysosomes. Previous studies in dividing cells have shown that mTORC1 blocks autophagy through inhibition of Unc-51-like-kinase1/2 (ULK1/2). Despite the fact that autophagy plays critical roles in neuronal homeostasis, little is known on the regulation of autophagy in neurons. Here we show that unlike in non-neuronal cells, Tsc2-deficient neurons have increased autolysosome accumulation and autophagic flux despite mTORC1-dependent inhibition of ULK1. Our data demonstrate that loss of Tsc2 results in autophagic activity via AMPK-dependent activation of ULK1. Thus, in Tsc2-knockdown neurons AMPK activation is the dominant regulator of autophagy. Notably, increased AMPK activity and autophagy activation are also found in the brains of Tsc1-conditional mouse models and in cortical tubers resected from TSC patients. Together, our findings indicate that neuronal Tsc1/2 complex activity is required for the coordinated regulation of autophagy by AMPK. By uncovering the autophagy dysfunction associated with Tsc2 loss in neurons, our work sheds light on a previously uncharacterized cellular mechanism that contributes to altered neuronal homeostasis in TSC disease.

PMID: 24599401 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Association of genetic variants of GRIN2B with autism.

February 7, 2015 - 8:42am

Association of genetic variants of GRIN2B with autism.

Sci Rep. 2015;5:8296

Authors: Pan Y, Chen J, Guo H, Ou J, Peng Y, Liu Q, Shen Y, Shi L, Liu Y, Xiong Z, Zhu T, Luo S, Hu Z, Zhao J, Xia K

Abstract
Autism (MIM 209850) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social communication impairments and restricted repetitive behaviors. It has a high heritability, although much remains unclear. To evaluate genetic variants of GRIN2B in autism etiology, we performed a system association study of common and rare variants of GRIN2B and autism in cohorts from a Chinese population, involving a total sample of 1,945 subjects. Meta-analysis of a triad family cohort and a case-control cohort identified significant associations of multiple common variants and autism risk (Pmin = 1.73 × 10(-4)). Significantly, the haplotype involved with the top common variants also showed significant association (P = 1.78 × 10(-6)). Sanger sequencing of 275 probands from a triad cohort identified several variants in coding regions, including four common variants and seven rare variants. Two of the common coding variants were located in the autism-related linkage disequilibrium (LD) block, and both were significantly associated with autism (P < 9 × 10(-3)) using an independent control cohort. Burden analysis and case-only analysis of rare coding variants identified by Sanger sequencing did not find this association. Our study for the first time reveals that common variants and related haplotypes of GRIN2B are associated with autism risk.

PMID: 25656819 [PubMed - in process]

Maternal Recall Versus Medical Records of Metabolic Conditions from the Prenatal Period: A Validation Study.

February 7, 2015 - 8:42am

Maternal Recall Versus Medical Records of Metabolic Conditions from the Prenatal Period: A Validation Study.

Matern Child Health J. 2015 Feb 6;

Authors: Krakowiak P, Walker CK, Tancredi DJ, Hertz-Picciotto I

Abstract
To assess validity of maternally-reported diabetes and hypertensive disorders, and reliability of BMI measurements during periconception and pregnancy compared with medical records when mothers are interviewed 2-5 years after delivery. To investigate whether reporting accuracy differed by child's case status (autism, delays, typical development). Participants were mothers of 2-5 year old children with and without neurodevelopmental disorders from the CHARGE (CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment) Study who had both prenatal/delivery records and telephone interviews. Sensitivity and specificity of self-report in telephone interview was assessed by comparison with medical records; agreement was evaluated by kappa statistics. Deviations in reported BMI were evaluated with Bland-Altman plots and concordance correlation coefficient (CCC). Mothers of children with neurodevelopmental disorders (autism or developmental delay) reported metabolic conditions slightly more accurately than control mothers. For diabetes, sensitivity ranged from 73 to 87 % and specificity was ≥98 % across groups. For hypertensive disorders, sensitivity ranged from 57 to 77 % and specificity from 93 to 98 %. Reliability of BMI was high (CCC = 0.930); when grouped into BMI categories, a higher proportion of mothers of delayed children were correctly classified (κwt = 0.93) compared with the autism group and controls (κwt = 0.85 and κwt = 0.84, respectively; P = 0.05). Multiparity was associated with higher discrepancies in BMI and misreporting of hypertensive disorders. For purposes of etiologic studies, self-reported diabetes and hypertensive disorders during periconception and pregnancy show high validity among mothers irrespective of child's case status. Recall of pre-pregnancy BMI is reliable compared with self-reported values in medical records.

PMID: 25656730 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

NPAS1 represses the generation of specific subtypes of cortical interneurons.

February 7, 2015 - 8:42am
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NPAS1 represses the generation of specific subtypes of cortical interneurons.

Neuron. 2014 Dec 3;84(5):940-53

Authors: Stanco A, Pla R, Vogt D, Chen Y, Mandal S, Walker J, Hunt RF, Lindtner S, Erdman CA, Pieper AA, Hamilton SP, Xu D, Baraban SC, Rubenstein JL

Abstract
Little is known about genetic mechanisms that regulate the ratio of cortical excitatory and inhibitory neurons. We show that NPAS1 and NPAS3 transcription factors (TFs) are expressed in progenitor domains of the mouse basal ganglia (subpallium, MGE, and CGE). NPAS1(-/-) mutants had increased proliferation, ERK signaling, and expression of Arx in the MGE and CGE. NPAS1(-/-) mutants also had increased neocortical inhibition (sIPSC and mIPSC) and generated an excess of somatostatin(+) (SST) (MGE-derived) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide(+) (VIP) (CGE-derived) neocortical interneurons, but had a normal density of parvalbumin(+) (PV) (MGE-derived) interneurons. In contrast, NPAS3(-/-) mutants showed decreased proliferation and ERK signaling in progenitors of the ganglionic eminences and had fewer SST(+) and VIP(+) interneurons. NPAS1 repressed activity of an Arx enhancer, and Arx overexpression resulted in increased proliferation of CGE progenitors. These results provide insights into genetic regulation of cortical interneuron numbers and cortical inhibitory tone.

PMID: 25467980 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

20 ans après: a second mutation in MAOA identified by targeted high-throughput sequencing in a family with altered behavior and cognition.

February 7, 2015 - 8:42am
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20 ans après: a second mutation in MAOA identified by targeted high-throughput sequencing in a family with altered behavior and cognition.

Eur J Hum Genet. 2014 Jun;22(6):776-83

Authors: Piton A, Poquet H, Redin C, Masurel A, Lauer J, Muller J, Thevenon J, Herenger Y, Chancenotte S, Bonnet M, Pinoit JM, Huet F, Thauvin-Robinet C, Jaeger AS, Le Gras S, Jost B, Gérard B, Peoc'h K, Launay JM, Faivre L, Mandel JL

Abstract
Intellectual disability (ID) is characterized by an extraordinary genetic heterogeneity, with >250 genes that have been implicated in monogenic forms of ID. Because this complexity precluded systematic testing for mutations and because clinical features are often non-specific, for some of these genes only few cases or families have been unambiguously documented. It is the case of the X-linked gene encoding monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), for which only one nonsense mutation has been identified in Brunner syndrome, characterized in a single family by mild non-dysmorphic ID and impulsive, violent and aggressive behaviors. We have performed targeted high-throughput sequencing of 220 genes, including MAOA, in patients with undiagnosed ID. We identified a c.797_798delinsTT (p.C266F) missense mutation in MAOA in a boy with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit and autoaggressive behavior. Two maternal uncles carry the mutation and have severe ID, with a history of maltreatment in early childhood. This novel missense mutation decreases MAOA enzymatic activity, leading to abnormal levels of urinary monoamines. The identification of this new point mutation confirms, for the first time since 1993, the monogenic implication of the MAOA gene in ID of various degrees, autism and behavioral disturbances. The variable expressivity of the mutation observed in male patients of this family may involve gene-environment interactions, and the identification of a perturbation in monoamine metabolism should be taken into account when prescribing psychoactive drugs in such patients.

PMID: 24169519 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

The role of β3 integrin gene variants in Autism Spectrum Disorders--diagnosis and symptomatology.

February 5, 2015 - 6:57am
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The role of β3 integrin gene variants in Autism Spectrum Disorders--diagnosis and symptomatology.

Gene. 2014 Dec 10;553(1):24-30

Authors: Schuch JB, Muller D, Endres RG, Bosa CA, Longo D, Schuler-Faccini L, Ranzan J, Becker MM, dos Santos Riesgo R, Roman T

Abstract
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) represent a group of very complex early-onset neurodevelopmental diseases. In this study, we analyzed 5 SNPs (rs2317385, rs5918, rs15908, rs12603582, rs3809865) at the β3 integrin locus (ITGB3), which has been suggested as a possible susceptibility gene, both as single markers and as part of haplotypes in 209 ASD children and their biological parents. We tested for association with the following: a) DSM-IV ASD diagnosis; b) clinical symptoms common in ASD patients (repetitive behaviors, echolalia, seizures and epilepsy, mood instability, aggression, psychomotor agitation, sleep disorders); and c) dimensional scores obtained with the Autism Screening Questionnaire and the Childhood Autism Rating Scale. These hypotheses were investigated using family-based tests, logistic regression models and analysis of covariance. The family-based tests showed an association with the H5 haplotype (composed by GTCGA alleles, the order of SNPs as above), which was transmitted less often than expected by chance (P=0.006; Pcorr=0.036). The analyses of the clinical symptoms showed a trend for an association with rs12603582 (P=0.008; Pcorr=0.064) and positive results for the haplotype composed of rs15908 and rs12603582 (Pglcorr=0.048; Pindcorr=0.015), both in symptoms of echolalia. Other nominal associations with different variants were found and involved epilepsy/seizures, aggression symptoms and higher ASQ scores. Although our positive results are not definitive, they suggest small effect associations of the ITGB3 gene with both ASD diagnosis and symptoms of echolalia. Other studies are nonetheless needed to fully understand the involvement of this locus on the etiology of ASDs and its different clinical aspects.

PMID: 25280596 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Fluoxetine for Autistic Behaviors (FAB trial): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial in children and adolescents with autism.

February 5, 2015 - 6:57am
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Fluoxetine for Autistic Behaviors (FAB trial): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial in children and adolescents with autism.

Trials. 2014;15:230

Authors: Mouti A, Reddihough D, Marraffa C, Hazell P, Wray J, Lee K, Kohn M

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed off-label for children with autism. To date, clinical trials examining the use of SSRIs in autism have been limited by small sample sizes and inconclusive results. The efficacy and safety of SSRIs for moderating autistic behaviors is yet to be adequately examined to provide evidence to support current clinical practice. The aim of the Fluoxetine for Autistic Behaviors (FAB) study is to determine the efficacy and safety of low dose fluoxetine compared with placebo, for reducing the frequency and severity of repetitive stereotypic behaviors in children and adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The relationship between the effectiveness of fluoxetine treatment and serotonin transporter genotype will also be explored.
METHODS/DESIGN: The FAB study is a multicenter, double-blinded, randomized controlled trial, funded by the Australian Government's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant. Participants will be aged between 7.5 and 17 years with a confirmed diagnosis of ASD. Eligible participants will be randomized to either placebo or fluoxetine for a 16-week period. Medication will be titrated over the first four weeks. Reponses to medication will be monitored fortnightly using the Clinical Global Impressions Scale (CGI). The primary outcome measure is the Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale-Modified for Pervasive Developmental Disorders (CYBOCS-PDD), administered at baseline and 16 weeks. Secondary outcome measures include the Aberrant Behaviour Scale (ABC), the Spence Children's Anxiety Scale Parent Report (SCAS-P), and the Repetitive Behaviors Scale (RBS-R), measured at baseline and 16 weeks. Participants will be invited to undergo genetic testing for SLC6A4 allele variants using a cheek swab. Continuous outcomes, including the primary outcome will be compared between the active and placebo groups using unadjusted linear regression. Binary outcomes will be compared using unadjusted logistic regression.
DISCUSSION: The FAB study is a large clinical trial to specifically investigate the efficacy of low dose fluoxetine for restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behaviors in ASD. The outcomes of this study will contribute to evidence-based interventions used in clinical practice to assist children with ASD.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000173392; registered on 9 April, 2008.

PMID: 24934401 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) exhibits striking sexual dichotomy impacting on autistic and Alzheimer's pathologies.

February 4, 2015 - 9:02am

Activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) exhibits striking sexual dichotomy impacting on autistic and Alzheimer's pathologies.

Transl Psychiatry. 2015;5:e501

Authors: Malishkevich A, Amram N, Hacohen-Kleiman G, Magen I, Giladi E, Gozes I

Abstract
Activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) is a most frequent autism spectrum disorder (ASD)-associated gene and the only protein significantly decreasing in the serum of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. Is ADNP associated with ASD being more prevalent in boys and AD more prevalent in women? Our results revealed sex-related learning/memory differences in mice, reflecting hippocampal expression changes in ADNP and ADNP-controlled AD/ASD risk genes. Hippocampal ADNP transcript content was doubled in male vs female mice, with females showing equal expression to ADNP haploinsufficient (ADNP(+/)(-)) males and no significant genotype-associated reduction. Increased male ADNP expression was replicated in human postmortem hippocampal samples. The hippocampal transcript for apolipoprotein E (the major risk gene for AD) was doubled in female mice compared with males, and further doubled in the ADNP(+/-) females, contrasting a decrease in ADNP(+/-) males. Previously, overexpression of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) led to ASD-like phenotype in mice. Here, we identified binding sites on ADNP for eIF4E and co-immunoprecipitation. Furthermore, hippocampal eIF4E expression was specifically increased in young ADNP(+/-) male mice. Behaviorally, ADNP(+/-) male mice exhibited deficiencies in object recognition and social memory compared with ADNP(+/+) mice, while ADNP(+/-) females were partially spared. Contrasting males, which preferred novel over familiar mice, ADNP(+/+) females showed no preference to novel mice and ADNP(+/-) females did not prefer mice over object. ADNP expression, positioned as a master regulator of key ASD and AD risk genes, introduces a novel concept of hippocampal gene-regulated sexual dimorphism and an ADNP(+/-) animal model for translational psychiatry.

PMID: 25646590 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Chromatin immunoprecipitation with fixed animal tissues and preparation for high-throughput sequencing.

February 4, 2015 - 9:02am

Chromatin immunoprecipitation with fixed animal tissues and preparation for high-throughput sequencing.

Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2015;2015(2):pdb.prot084848

Authors: Cotney JL, Noonan JP

Abstract
Chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-Seq) is a powerful method used to identify genome-wide binding patterns of transcription factors and distribution of various histone modifications associated with different chromatin states. In most published studies, ChIP-Seq has been performed on cultured cells grown under controlled conditions, allowing generation of large amounts of material in a homogeneous biological state. Although such studies have provided great insight into the dynamic landscapes of animal genomes, they do not allow the examination of transcription factor binding and chromatin states in adult tissues, developing embryonic structures, or tumors. Such knowledge is critical to understanding the information required to create and maintain a complex biological tissue and to identify noncoding regions of the genome directly involved in tissues affected by complex diseases such as autism. Studying these tissue types with ChIP-Seq can be challenging due to the limited availability of tissues and the lack of complex biological states able to be achieved in culture. These inherent differences require alterations of standard cross-linking and chromatin extraction typically used in cell culture. Here we describe a general approach for using small amounts of animal tissue to perform ChIP-Seq directed at histone modifications and transcription factors. Tissue is homogenized before treatment with formaldehyde to ensure proper cross-linking, and a two-step nuclear isolation is performed to increase extraction of soluble chromatin. Small amounts of soluble chromatin are then used for immunoprecipitation (IP) and prepared for multiplexed high-throughput sequencing.

PMID: 25646502 [PubMed - in process]

Impaired posttranslational processing and trafficking of an endosomal Na+/H+ exchanger NHE6 mutant (Δ(370)WST(372)) associated with X-linked intellectual disability and autism.

February 3, 2015 - 8:19am
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Impaired posttranslational processing and trafficking of an endosomal Na+/H+ exchanger NHE6 mutant (Δ(370)WST(372)) associated with X-linked intellectual disability and autism.

Neurochem Int. 2014 Jul;73:192-203

Authors: Ilie A, Weinstein E, Boucher A, McKinney RA, Orlowski J

Abstract
Na(+)/H(+) exchanger NHE6/SLC9A6 is an X-linked gene that is widely expressed and especially abundant in brain, heart and skeletal muscle where it is implicated in endosomal pH homeostasis and trafficking as well as maintenance of cell polarity. Recent genetic studies have identified several mutations in the coding region of NHE6 that are linked with severe intellectual disability, autistic behavior, ataxia and other abnormalities. One such defect consists of an in-frame deletion of three amino acids ((370)Trp-Ser-Thr(372), ΔWST) that adjoin the predicted ninth transmembrane helix of the exchanger. To better understand the nature of this mutation, a NHE6ΔWST construct was generated and assessed for its effects on the biochemical and cellular properties of the transporter. In transfected fibroblastic CHO and neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, immunoblot analyses showed that the mutant protein was effectively synthesized, but its subsequent oligosaccharide maturation and overall half-life were dramatically reduced compared to wild-type. These changes correlated with significant accumulation of ΔWST in the endoplasmic reticulum, with only minor sorting to the plasma membrane and negligible trafficking to recycling endosomes. The diminished accumulation in recycling endosomes was associated with a significant decrease in the rate of endocytosis of cell surface ΔWST compared to wild-type. Furthermore, while ectopic expression of wild-type NHE6 enhanced the uptake of other vesicular cargo such as transferrin along the clathrin-mediated recycling endosomal pathway, this ability was lost in the ΔWST mutant. Similarly, in transfected primary mouse hippocampal neurons, wild-type NHE6 was localized in discrete puncta throughout the soma and neurites, whereas the ΔWST mutant displayed a diffuse reticular pattern. Remarkably, the extensive dendritic arborization observed in neurons expressing wild-type NHE6 was noticeably diminished in ΔWST-transfectants. These results suggest that deletion of (370)Trp-Ser-Thr(372) leads to endoplasmic reticulum retention and loss of NHE6 function which potentially impacts the trafficking of other membrane-bound cargo and cell polarity.

PMID: 24090639 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Neuronal ablation of p-Akt at Ser473 leads to altered 5-HT1A/2A receptor function.

February 3, 2015 - 8:19am
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Neuronal ablation of p-Akt at Ser473 leads to altered 5-HT1A/2A receptor function.

Neurochem Int. 2014 Jul;73:113-21

Authors: Saunders C, Siuta M, Robertson SD, Davis AR, Sauer J, Matthies HJ, Gresch PJ, Airey DC, Lindsley CW, Schetz JA, Niswender KD, Veenstra-Vanderweele JM, Galli A

Abstract
The serotonergic system regulates a wide range of behavior, including mood and impulsivity, and its dysregulation has been associated with mood disorders, autism spectrum disorder, and addiction. Diabetes is a risk factor for these conditions. Insulin resistance in the brain is specifically associated with susceptibility to psychostimulant abuse. Here, we examined whether phosphorylation of Akt, a key regulator of the insulin signaling pathway, controls serotonin (5-HT) signaling. To explore how impairment in Akt function regulates 5-HT homeostasis, we used a brain-specific rictor knockout (KO) mouse model of impaired neuronal phosphorylation of Akt at Ser473. Cortical 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptor binding was significantly elevated in rictor KO mice. Concomitant with this elevated receptor expression, the 5-HT1A receptor agonist 8-Hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT) led to an increased hypothermic response in rictor KO mice. The increased cortical 5-HT1A receptor density was associated with higher 5-HT1A receptor levels on the cortical cell surface. In contrast, rictor KO mice displayed significantly reduced head-twitch response (HTR) to the 5-HT2A/C agonist 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI), with evidence of impaired 5-HT2A/C receptor signaling. In vitro, pharmacological inhibition of Akt significantly increased 5-HT1A receptor expression and attenuated DOI-induced 5-HT2A receptor signaling, thereby lending credence to the observed in vivo cross-talk between neuronal Akt signaling and 5-HT receptor regulation. These data reveal that defective central Akt function alters 5-HT signaling as well as 5-HT-associated behaviors, demonstrating a novel role for Akt in maintaining neuronal 5-HT receptor function.

PMID: 24090638 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Serotonin transporter and integrin beta 3 genes interact to modulate serotonin uptake in mouse brain.

February 3, 2015 - 8:19am
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Serotonin transporter and integrin beta 3 genes interact to modulate serotonin uptake in mouse brain.

Neurochem Int. 2014 Jul;73:122-6

Authors: Whyte A, Jessen T, Varney S, Carneiro AM

Abstract
Dysfunctions in serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) systems have been associated with several psychiatric illnesses, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders and autism spectrum disorders. Convergent evidence from genetic analyses of human subjects has implicated the integrin β3 subunit gene (ITGB3) as a modulator of serotonergic systems via genetic interactions with the 5-HT transporter gene (SLC6A4, SERT). While genetic interactions may result from contributions of each gene at several levels, we hypothesize that ITGB3 modulates the 5-HT system at the level of the synapse, through the actions of integrin αvβ3. Here we utilized a genetic approach in mouse models to examine Itgb3 contributions to SERT function both in the context of normal and reduced SERT expression. As integrin αvβ3 is expressed in postsynaptic membranes, we isolated synaptoneurosomes, which maintain intact pre- and post-synaptic associations. Citalopram binding revealed significant Slc6a4-driven reductions in SERT expression in midbrain synapses, whereas no significant changes were observed in hippocampal or cortical projections. Expecting corresponding changes to SERT function, we also measured 5-HT uptake activity in synaptoneurosomal preparations. Itgb3 single heterozygous mice displayed significant reductions in 5-HT Vmax, with no changes in Km, in midbrain preparations. However, in the presence of both Itgb3 and Slc6a4 heterozygozity, 5-HT uptake was similar to wild-type levels, revealing a significant Slc6a4 by Itgb3 genetic interaction in the midbrain. Similar findings were observed in cortical preparations, whereas in the hippocampus, most Vmax changes were driven solely by Slc6a4. Our findings provide evidence that integrin αvβ3 is involved in the regulation of serotonergic systems in some, but not all 5-HT synapses, revealing novel contributions to synaptic specificity within the central nervous system.

PMID: 24083985 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Gain-of-function mutations in the calcium channel CACNA1C (Cav1.2) cause non-syndromic long-QT but not Timothy syndrome.

January 31, 2015 - 6:35am

Gain-of-function mutations in the calcium channel CACNA1C (Cav1.2) cause non-syndromic long-QT but not Timothy syndrome.

J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2015 Jan 26;

Authors: Wemhöner K, Friedrich C, Stallmeyer B, Coffey AJ, Grace A, Zumhagen S, Seebohm G, Ortiz-Bonnin B, Rinné S, Sachse FB, Schulze-Bahr E, Decher N

Abstract
Gain-of-function mutations in CACNA1C, encoding the L-type Ca(2+) channel Cav1.2, cause Timothy syndrome (TS), a multi-systemic disorder with dysmorphic features, long-QT syndrome (LQTS) and autism spectrum disorders. TS patients have heterozygous mutations (G402S and G406R) located in the alternatively spliced exon 8, causing a gain-of-function by reduced voltage-dependence of inactivation. Screening 540 unrelated patients with non-syndromic forms of LQTS, we identified six functional relevant CACNA1C mutations in different regions of the channel. All these mutations caused a gain-of-function combining different mechanisms, including changes in current amplitude, rate of inactivation and voltage-dependence of activation or inactivation, similar as in TS. Computer simulations support the theory that the novel CACNA1C mutations prolong action potential duration. We conclude that genotype-negative LQTS patients should be investigated for mutations in CACNA1C, as a gain-of-function in Cav1.2 is likely to cause LQTS and only specific and rare mutations, i.e. in exon 8, cause the multi-systemic TS.

PMID: 25633834 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Intense and specialized dendritic localization of the fragile X mental retardation protein in binaural brainstem neurons: a comparative study in the alligator, chicken, gerbil, and human.

January 28, 2015 - 8:20am
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Intense and specialized dendritic localization of the fragile X mental retardation protein in binaural brainstem neurons: a comparative study in the alligator, chicken, gerbil, and human.

J Comp Neurol. 2014 Jun 15;522(9):2107-28

Authors: Wang Y, Sakano H, Beebe K, Brown MR, de Laat R, Bothwell M, Kulesza RJ, Rubel EW

Abstract
Neuronal dendrites are structurally and functionally dynamic in response to changes in afferent activity. The fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) is an mRNA binding protein that regulates activity-dependent protein synthesis and morphological dynamics of dendrites. Loss and abnormal expression of FMRP occur in fragile X syndrome (FXS) and some forms of autism spectrum disorders. To provide further understanding of how FMRP signaling regulates dendritic dynamics, we examined dendritic expression and localization of FMRP in the reptilian and avian nucleus laminaris (NL) and its mammalian analogue, the medial superior olive (MSO), in rodents and humans. NL/MSO neurons are specialized for temporal processing of low-frequency sounds for binaural hearing, which is impaired in FXS. Protein BLAST analyses first demonstrate that the FMRP amino acid sequences in the alligator and chicken are highly similar to human FMRP with identical mRNA-binding and phosphorylation sites, suggesting that FMRP functions similarly across vertebrates. Immunocytochemistry further reveals that NL/MSO neurons have very high levels of dendritic FMRP in low-frequency hearing vertebrates including alligator, chicken, gerbil, and human. Remarkably, dendritic FMRP in NL/MSO neurons often accumulates at branch points and enlarged distal tips, loci known to be critical for branch-specific dendritic arbor dynamics. These observations support an important role for FMRP in regulating dendritic properties of binaural neurons that are essential for low-frequency sound localization and auditory scene segregation, and support the relevance of studying this regulation in nonhuman vertebrates that use low frequencies in order to further understand human auditory processing disorders.

PMID: 24318628 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

The Emerging Picture of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Genetics and Pathology.

January 27, 2015 - 6:56am

The Emerging Picture of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Genetics and Pathology.

Annu Rev Pathol. 2015 Jan 24;10:111-144

Authors: Chen JA, Peñagarikano O, Belgard TG, Swarup V, Geschwind DH

Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined by impaired social interaction and communication accompanied by stereotyped behaviors and restricted interests. Although ASD is common, its genetic and clinical features are highly heterogeneous. A number of recent breakthroughs have dramatically advanced our understanding of ASD from the standpoint of human genetics and neuropathology. These studies highlight the period of fetal development and the processes of chromatin structure, synaptic function, and neuron-glial signaling. The initial efforts to systematically integrate findings of multiple levels of genomic data and studies of mouse models have yielded new clues regarding ASD pathophysiology. This early work points to an emerging convergence of disease mechanisms in this complex and etiologically heterogeneous disorder.

PMID: 25621659 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

CACNA1D De Novo Mutations in Autism Spectrum Disorders Activate Cav1.3 L-Type Calcium Channels.

January 27, 2015 - 6:56am

CACNA1D De Novo Mutations in Autism Spectrum Disorders Activate Cav1.3 L-Type Calcium Channels.

Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Dec 8;

Authors: Pinggera A, Lieb A, Benedetti B, Lampert M, Monteleone S, Liedl KR, Tuluc P, Striessnig J

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Cav1.3 voltage-gated L-type calcium channels (LTCCs) are part of postsynaptic neuronal signaling networks. They play a key role in brain function, including fear memory and emotional and drug-taking behaviors. A whole-exome sequencing study identified a de novo mutation, p.A749G, in Cav1.3 α1-subunits (CACNA1D), the second main LTCC in the brain, as 1 of 62 high risk-conferring mutations in a cohort of patients with autism and intellectual disability. We screened all published genetic information available from whole-exome sequencing studies and identified a second de novo CACNA1D mutation, p.G407R. Both mutations are present only in the probands and not in their unaffected parents or siblings.
METHODS: We functionally expressed both mutations in tsA-201 cells to study their functional consequences using whole-cell patch-clamp.
RESULTS: The mutations p.A749G and p.G407R caused dramatic changes in channel gating by shifting (~15 mV) the voltage dependence for steady-state activation and inactivation to more negative voltages (p.A749G) or by pronounced slowing of current inactivation during depolarizing stimuli (p.G407R). In both cases, these changes are compatible with a gain-of-function phenotype.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data, together with the discovery that Cav1.3 gain-of-function causes primary aldosteronism with seizures, neurologic abnormalities, and intellectual disability, suggest that Cav1.3 gain-of-function mutations confer a major part of the risk for autism in the two probands and may even cause the disease. Our findings have immediate clinical relevance because blockers of LTCCs are available for therapeutic attempts in affected individuals. Patients should also be explored for other symptoms likely resulting from Cav1.3 hyperactivity, in particular, primary aldosteronism.

PMID: 25620733 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Methylphenidate improves learning impairments and hyperthermia-induced seizures caused by an Scn1a mutation.

January 27, 2015 - 6:56am
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Methylphenidate improves learning impairments and hyperthermia-induced seizures caused by an Scn1a mutation.

Epilepsia. 2014 Oct;55(10):1558-67

Authors: Ohmori I, Kawakami N, Liu S, Wang H, Miyazaki I, Asanuma M, Michiue H, Matsui H, Mashimo T, Ouchida M

Abstract
OBJECTIVE: Developmental disorders including cognitive deficit, hyperkinetic disorder, and autistic behaviors are frequently comorbid in epileptic patients with SCN1A mutations. However, the mechanisms underlying these developmental disorders are poorly understood and treatments are currently unavailable. Using a rodent model with an Scn1a mutation, we aimed to elucidate the pathophysiologic basis and potential therapeutic treatments for developmental disorders stemming from Scn1a mutations.
METHODS: We conducted behavioral analyses on rats with the N1417H-Scn1a mutation. With high-performance liquid chromatography, we measured dopamine and its metabolites in the frontal cortex, striatum, nucleus accumbens, and midbrain. Methylphenidate was administered intraperitoneally to examine its effects on developmental disorder-like behaviors and hyperthermia-induced seizures.
RESULTS: Behavioral studies revealed that Scn1a-mutant rats had repetitive behavior, hyperactivity, anxiety-like behavior, spatial learning impairments, and motor imbalance. Dopamine levels in the striatum and nucleus accumbens in Scn1a-mutant rats were significantly lower than those in wild-type rats. In Scn1a-mutant rats, methylphenidate, by increasing dopamine levels in the synaptic cleft, improved hyperactivity, anxiety-like behavior, and spatial learning impairments. Surprisingly, methylphenidate also strongly suppressed hyperthermia-induced seizures.
SIGNIFICANCE: Dysfunction of the mesolimbic dopamine reward pathway may contribute to the hyperactivity and learning impairments in Scn1a-mutant rats. Methylphenidate was effective for treating hyperactivity, learning impairments, and hyperthermia-induced seizures. We propose that methylphenidate treatment may ameliorate not only developmental disorders but also epileptic seizures in patients with SCN1A mutations.

PMID: 25154505 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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