Anatomy and Neuroscience - Research Publications

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    AAV-Mediated CRISPR/Cas Gene Editing of Retinal Cells In Vivo
    Hung, SSC ; Chrysostomou, V ; Li, F ; Lim, JKH ; Wang, J-H ; Powell, JE ; Tu, L ; Daniszewski, M ; Lo, C ; Wong, RC ; Crowston, JG ; Pebay, A ; King, AE ; Bui, BV ; Liu, G-S ; Hewitt, AW (ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC, 2016-06-01)
    PURPOSE: Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein (Cas) has recently been adapted to enable efficient editing of the mammalian genome, opening novel avenues for therapeutic intervention of inherited diseases. In seeking to disrupt yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) in a Thy1-YFP transgenic mouse, we assessed the feasibility of utilizing the adeno-associated virus 2 (AAV2) to deliver CRISPR/Cas for gene modification of retinal cells in vivo. METHODS: Single guide RNA (sgRNA) plasmids were designed to target YFP, and after in vitro validation, selected guides were cloned into a dual AAV system. One AAV2 construct was used to deliver Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9), and the other delivered sgRNA against YFP or LacZ (control) in the presence of mCherry. Five weeks after intravitreal injection, retinal function was determined using electroretinography, and CRISPR/Cas-mediated gene modifications were quantified in retinal flat mounts. RESULTS: Adeno-associated virus 2-mediated in vivo delivery of SpCas9 with sgRNA targeting YFP significantly reduced the number of YFP fluorescent cells of the inner retina of our transgenic mouse model. Overall, we found an 84.0% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 81.8-86.9) reduction of YFP-positive cells in YFP-sgRNA-infected retinal cells compared to eyes treated with LacZ-sgRNA. Electroretinography profiling found no significant alteration in retinal function following AAV2-mediated delivery of CRISPR/Cas components compared to contralateral untreated eyes. CONCLUSIONS: Thy1-YFP transgenic mice were used as a rapid quantifiable means to assess the efficacy of CRISPR/Cas-based retinal gene modification in vivo. We demonstrate that genomic modification of cells in the adult retina can be readily achieved by viral-mediated delivery of CRISPR/Cas.
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    Reversibility of retinal ganglion cell dysfunction due to chronic IOP elevation.
    Zhao, D ; Wong, VHY ; He, Z ; Nguyen, CTO ; Jobling, AI ; Fletcher, E ; Chinnery, H ; Jusuf, P ; Lim, JKH ; Vingrys, AJ ; Bui, BV (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 2018-07-01)
    Purpose : To determine the duration of chronic IOP elevation beyond which ganglion cell function can no longer recover using the mouse circumlimbal suture model. Methods : IOP elevation was induced in anaesthetized (isoflurane) adult male C57BL6/J mice by attaching a circumlimbal suture (nylon, 10/0) around the equator of one eye, with the contralateral eye serving as a control. The suture was left in place for 8, 12 and 16 weeks (n=27, 23 and 27), respectively, and animals underwent electroretinography and optical coherence tomography at these time points. In two other groups, the suture was removed after 8 and 12 weeks (n=26 and 28), and the capacity for recovery assessed 4 weeks later. IOP was measured weekly (Tonolab). Retinal ganglion cell (RGC) function (or integrity) was assessed with the positive scotopic threshold response (pSTR) and retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) thickness. Data (mean ± SEM) were compared using t-test (control vs. treatment) and one-way ANOVA (within groups). Results : IOP in sutured eyes was higher than control eyes (8wk: 17.1 ± 0.3 vs. 26.8 ± 0.6 mmHg, 12wk: 13.8 ± 0.3 vs. 19.5 ± 0.5 mmHg, 16wk: 17.1 ± 0.2 vs. 27.4 ± 0.6 mmHg; all P<0.001). After suture removal, IOP returned to levels comparable to control eyes (8+4wk: 16.9 ± 0.3 vs. 16.1 ± 0.3 mmHg; P=0.08, 12+4wk: 17.3 ± 0.2 vs. 17.1 ± 0.3 mmHg; P=0.5). With IOP elevation, RGC function declined to 75% ± 8% (8wk), 78% ± 7% (12wk) and 59% ± 4% (16wk, all P<0.001) of control eyes. RNFL thinning was also evident (8wk: 84% ± 4%, 12wk: 83% ± 5%; 16wk: 83% ± 3%; P<0.001) but no change in total retinal thickness was noted (P=0.33). Suture removal at week 8 facilitated full recovery of RGC function (97% ± 7%, P=0.9 vs. baseline) 4 weeks later. However, there was no recovery in RNFL thickness (87% ± 3%, P<0.001 vs. baseline). When the suture was removed at week 12, neither function (79% ± 9%, P<0.05) nor RNFL thickness recovered (89% ± 3%, P<0.01) 4 weeks later. Conclusions : RGC dysfunction can be recovered 4 weeks after an 8-week period of mild IOP elevation, but not after a 12-week period. Beyond 12 weeks, IOP reversal only served to prevent further functional decline. This identifies a critical chronic IOP duration that results in irreversible ganglion cell dysfunction. This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.
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    Roles and post-translational regulation of cardiac class IIa histone deacetylase isoforms
    Weeks, KL ; Avkiran, M (WILEY, 2015-04-15)
    Cardiomyocyte hypertrophy is an integral component of pathological cardiac remodelling in response to mechanical and chemical stresses in settings such as chronic hypertension or myocardial infarction. For hypertrophy to ensue, the pertinent mechanical and chemical signals need to be transmitted from membrane sensors (such as receptors for neurohormonal mediators) to the cardiomyocyte nucleus, leading to altered transcription of the genes that regulate cell growth. In recent years, nuclear histone deacetylases (HDACs) have attracted considerable attention as signal-responsive, distal regulators of the transcriptional reprogramming that in turn precipitates cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, with particular focus on the role of members of the class IIa family, such as HDAC4 and HDAC5. These histone deacetylase isoforms appear to repress cardiomyocyte hypertrophy through mechanisms that involve protein interactions in the cardiomyocyte nucleus, particularly with pro-hypertrophic transcription factors, rather than via histone deacetylation. In contrast, evidence indicates that class I HDACs promote cardiomyocyte hypertrophy through mechanisms that are dependent on their enzymatic activity and thus sensitive to pharmacological HDAC inhibitors. Although considerable progress has been made in understanding the roles of post-translational modifications (PTMs) such as phosphorylation, oxidation and proteolytic cleavage in regulating class IIa HDAC localisation and function, more work is required to explore the contributions of other PTMs, such as ubiquitination and sumoylation, as well as potential cross-regulatory interactions between distinct PTMs and between class IIa and class I HDAC isoforms.
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    Assessing structural and functional responses of murine hearts to acute and sustained beta-adrenergic stimulation in vivo
    Puhl, S-L ; Weeks, KL ; Ranieri, A ; Avkiran, M (ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2016-05-01)
    INTRODUCTION: Given the importance of β-adrenoceptor signalling in regulating cardiac structure and function, robust protocols are required to assess potential alterations in such regulation in murine models in vivo. METHODS: Echocardiography was performed in naïve and stressed (isoprenaline; 30μg/g/day s.c. for up to 14days) mice, in the absence or presence of acute β-adrenergic stimulation (dobutamine 0.75μg/g, i.p.). Controls received saline infusion and/or injection. Hearts were additionally analysed gravimetrically, histologically and biochemically. RESULTS: In naïve mice, acute β-adrenoceptor stimulation with dobutamine increased heart rate, left ventricular (LV) fractional shortening (LVFS), ejection fraction (LVEF) and wall thickness and decreased LV diameter (p<0.05). In stressed mice, dobutamine failed to induce further inotropic and chronotropic responses. Furthermore, following dobutamine injection, these mice exhibited lower LVEF and LVFS at identical heart rates, relative to corresponding controls. Sustained isoprenaline infusion induced LV hypertrophy (increased heart weight, heart weight/body weight ratio, heart weight/tibia length ratio and LV wall thickness (p<0.05)) by 3days, with little further change at 14days. In contrast, increases in LVEF and LVFS were seen only at 14days (p<0.05). DISCUSSION: We describe protocols for and illustrative data from the assessment of murine cardiac responses to acute and sustained β-adrenergic stimulation in vivo, which would be of value in determining the impact of genetic or pharmacological interventions on such responses. Additionally, our data indicate that acute dobutamine stimulation unmasks early signs of LV dysfunction in the remodelled heart, even at a stage when basal function is enhanced.
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    Role of type 2A phosphatase regulatory subunit B56α in regulating cardiac responses to β-adrenergic stimulation in vivo.
    Puhl, S-L ; Weeks, KL ; Güran, A ; Ranieri, A ; Boknik, P ; Kirchhefer, U ; Müller, FU ; Avkiran, M (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2019-03-01)
    AIMS: B56α is a protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) regulatory subunit that is highly expressed in the heart. We previously reported that cardiomyocyte B56α localizes to myofilaments under resting conditions and translocates to the cytosol in response to acute β-adrenergic receptor (β-AR) stimulation. Given the importance of reversible protein phosphorylation in modulating cardiac function during sympathetic stimulation, we hypothesized that loss of B56α in mice with targeted disruption of the gene encoding B56α (Ppp2r5a) would impact on cardiac responses to β-AR stimulation in vivo. METHODS AND RESULTS: Cardiac phenotype of mice heterozygous (HET) or homozygous (HOM) for the disrupted Ppp2r5a allele and wild type (WT) littermates was characterized under basal conditions and following acute β-AR stimulation with dobutamine (DOB; 0.75 mg/kg i.p.) or sustained β-AR stimulation by 2-week infusion of isoproterenol (ISO; 30 mg/kg/day s.c.). Left ventricular (LV) wall thicknesses, chamber dimensions and function were assessed by echocardiography, and heart tissue collected for gravimetric, histological, and biochemical analyses. Western blot analysis revealed partial and complete loss of B56α protein in hearts from HET and HOM mice, respectively, and no changes in the expression of other PP2A regulatory, catalytic or scaffolding subunits. PP2A catalytic activity was reduced in hearts of both HET and HOM mice. There were no differences in the basal cardiac phenotype between genotypes. Acute DOB stimulation induced the expected inotropic response in WT and HET mice, which was attenuated in HOM mice. In contrast, DOB-induced increases in heart rate were unaffected by B56α deficiency. In WT mice, ISO infusion increased LV wall thicknesses, cardiomyocyte area and ventricular mass, without LV dilation, systolic dysfunction, collagen deposition or foetal gene expression. The hypertrophic response to ISO was blunted in mice deficient for B56α. CONCLUSION: These findings identify B56α as a potential regulator of cardiac structure and function during β-AR stimulation.
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    Consumption of a low glycaemic index diet in late life extends lifespan of Balb/c mice with differential effects on DNA damage.
    Nankervis, SA ; Mitchell, JM ; Charchar, FJ ; McGlynn, MA ; Lewandowski, PA (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2013-03-01)
    BACKGROUND: Caloric restriction is known to extend the lifespan of all organisms in which it has been tested. Consequently, current research is investigating the role of various foods to improve health and lifespan. The role of various diets has received less attention however, and in some cases may have more capacity to improve health and longevity than specific foods alone. We examined the benefits to longevity of a low glycaemic index (GI) diet in aged Balb/c mice and examined markers of oxidative stress and subsequent effects on telomere dynamics. RESULTS: In an aged population of mice, a low GI diet extended average lifespan by 12%, improved glucose tolerance and had impressive effects on amelioration of oxidative damage to DNA in white blood cells. Telomere length in quadriceps muscle showed no improvement in the dieted group, nor was telomerase reactivated. CONCLUSION: The beneficial effects of a low GI diet are evident from the current study and although the impact to telomere dynamics late in life is minimal, we expect that earlier intervention with a low GI diet would provide significant improvement in health and longevity with associated effects to telomere homeostasis.
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    Association of genetic variation with systolic and diastolic blood pressure among African Americans: the Candidate Gene Association Resource study
    Fox, ER ; Young, JH ; Li, Y ; Dreisbach, AW ; Keating, BJ ; Musani, SK ; Liu, K ; Morrison, AC ; Ganesh, S ; Kutlar, A ; Ramachandran, VS ; Polak, JF ; Fabsitz, RR ; Dries, DL ; Farlow, DN ; Redline, S ; Adeyemo, A ; Hirschorn, JN ; Sun, YV ; Wyatt, SB ; Penman, AD ; Palmas, W ; Rotter, JI ; Townsend, RR ; Doumatey, AP ; Tayo, BO ; Mosley, TH ; Lyon, HN ; Kang, SJ ; Rotimi, CN ; Cooper, RS ; Franceschini, N ; Curb, JD ; Martin, LW ; Eaton, CB ; Kardia, SLR ; Taylor, HA ; Caulfield, MJ ; Ehret, GB ; Johnson, T ; Chakravarti, A ; Zhu, X ; Levy, D (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2011-06-01)
    The prevalence of hypertension in African Americans (AAs) is higher than in other US groups; yet, few have performed genome-wide association studies (GWASs) in AA. Among people of European descent, GWASs have identified genetic variants at 13 loci that are associated with blood pressure. It is unknown if these variants confer susceptibility in people of African ancestry. Here, we examined genome-wide and candidate gene associations with systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) using the Candidate Gene Association Resource (CARe) consortium consisting of 8591 AAs. Genotypes included genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data utilizing the Affymetrix 6.0 array with imputation to 2.5 million HapMap SNPs and candidate gene SNP data utilizing a 50K cardiovascular gene-centric array (ITMAT-Broad-CARe [IBC] array). For Affymetrix data, the strongest signal for DBP was rs10474346 (P= 3.6 × 10(-8)) located near GPR98 and ARRDC3. For SBP, the strongest signal was rs2258119 in C21orf91 (P= 4.7 × 10(-8)). The top IBC association for SBP was rs2012318 (P= 6.4 × 10(-6)) near SLC25A42 and for DBP was rs2523586 (P= 1.3 × 10(-6)) near HLA-B. None of the top variants replicated in additional AA (n = 11 882) or European-American (n = 69 899) cohorts. We replicated previously reported European-American blood pressure SNPs in our AA samples (SH2B3, P= 0.009; TBX3-TBX5, P= 0.03; and CSK-ULK3, P= 0.0004). These genetic loci represent the best evidence of genetic influences on SBP and DBP in AAs to date. More broadly, this work supports that notion that blood pressure among AAs is a trait with genetic underpinnings but also with significant complexity.
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    Identification of New and Diverse Inducers of Fetal Hemoglobin with High Throughput Screening (HTS)
    Sangerman, JI ; Boosalis, MS ; Shen, L ; Haigh, S ; Kane, A ; White, GL ; Perrine, SP ; Faller, DV (American Society of Hematology, 2010-11-19)
    Pharmacologic augmentation of fetal hemoglobin (HbF, γ-globin) production, to replace diminished β-globin chains in the β-thalassemias and to inhibit HbS polymerization in sickle cell disease, is a definitive therapeutic modality. Despite long-term efforts, regulatory approval has been obtained for only one chemotherapeutic agent. Pharmacologic reactivation of high-level HbF expression with non-cytotoxic, tolerable therapeutics is still an unmet medical need for this global health burden. To investigate potential therapeutic libraries for unrecognized HbF inducers, we developed a high-throughput screening (HTS) program to interrogate diverse chemical libraries, including a library of FDA-approved and clinical stage drugs. This program has identified unexpected new and highly potent HbF-inducing drugs, some of which are already in clinical use for other medical indications and have established safety profiles. A human cell-based assay which was previously used in low throughput assays, utilizing a 1.4-kilobase (kb) KpnI-BglII fragment of the HS2 of the locus control region (LCR) linked to the γ-globin gene promoter and the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) reporter gene, was adapted for high throughput screening and employed as the primary screen. Cytotoxic activity was assayed in a simultaneous counter screen. A number of hits were identified as being more potent than positive controls (such as butyrate). Several hits were immediately eliminated from further development as potential hemoglobinopathy therapeutics because of cytotoxicity (e.g., Idarubicin) or undesirable off-target effects, but nonetheless validated the HTS itself and were validated in secondary confirmatory assays as highly-potent HbF-inducers. The HTS assay identified 8 FDA-approved drugs as potent inducers of γ-globin gene expression, with activity at 1–2 logs lower concentrations (1000-fold higher potency) than prior generation therapeutic candidates. The γ-globin-specificity of hits was determined in a secondary assay employing a stably-transfected dual-luciferase reporter construct containing the LCR and the β-globin promoter linked to renilla luciferase and the Aγ-globin promoter linked to firefly luciferase (μLCRβprRlucAγprFluc cassette). Clinical-stage or clinically-approved agents, including Ambroxol at 1 μM, Desloratadine at 1 μM, Resveratrol at 10 μM, Benserazide at 5 μM, the HDAC inhibitor MS-275 at 5 μM, and an established bioactive, NSC-95397, at 1 μM were all significantly more active in this assay than Butyrate at 2000 μM, with MS-275 and Resveratrol being the most active. These drugs were then assayed for their ability to induce γ-globin mRNA expression in cultured primary human erythroid progenitors, at concentrations which are pharmacologically achievable in humans. Drugs significantly more active in γ -globin mRNA induction than the positive control (2-fold induction) in this system included Ambroxol (3-fold), Desloratadine (up to 6-fold), Resveratrol (up to 3-fold), Benserazide (up to 5-fold), and MS-275 (up to 3.7-fold). Two agents were subsequently studied in anemic baboons, and demonstrated in vivo induction of γ-globin mRNA, HbF, and F-reticulocytes. Unexpectedly, rises in total hemoglobin (>1 gm/dL) also occurred with 2 agents. Thus, a panel of structurally- and functionally-unrelated compounds demonstrate greater HbF-inducing activity, with up to 1000-fold higher potency, than current HbF-inducers which have significant activity in clinical trials. Some of the drugs identified by HTS have entirely benign safety profiles. These candidates could be clinically evaluated rapidly and at significantly less cost than new chemical entities, which require extensive toxicology, manufacturing, and clinical evaluation. These findings demonstrate the utility of a high-throughput screening program based on γ-globin gene promoter induction.
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    The afterload-dependent peak efficiency of the isolated working rat heart is unaffected by streptozotocin-induced diabetes
    Han, J-C ; Goo, S ; Barrett, CJ ; Mellor, KM ; Taberner, AJ ; Loiselle, DS (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2014-01-05)
    BACKGROUND: Diabetes is known to alter the energy metabolism of the heart. Thus, it may be expected to affect the efficiency of contraction (i.e., the ratio of mechanical work output to metabolic energy input). The literature on the subject is conflicting. The majority of studies have reported a reduction of myocardial efficiency of the diabetic heart, yet a number of studies have returned a null effect. We propose that these discrepant findings can be reconciled by examining the dependence of myocardial efficiency on afterload. METHODS: We performed experiments on streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats (7-8 weeks post-induction), subjecting their (isolated) hearts to a wide range of afterloads (40 mmHg to maximal, where aortic flow approached zero). We measured work output and oxygen consumption, and their suitably scaled ratio (i.e., myocardial efficiency). RESULTS: We found that myocardial efficiency is a complex function of afterload: its value peaks in the mid-range and decreases on either side. Diabetes reduced the maximal afterload to which the hearts could pump (105 mmHg versus 150 mmHg). Thus, at high afterloads (for example, 90 mmHg), the efficiency of the STZ heart was lower than that of the healthy heart (10.4% versus 14.5%) due to its decreased work output. Diabetes also reduced the afterload at which peak efficiency occurred (optimal afterload: 63 mmHg versus 83 mmHg). Despite these negative effects, the peak value of myocardial efficiency (14.7%) was unaffected by diabetes. CONCLUSIONS: Diabetes reduces the ability of the heart to pump at high afterloads and, consequently, reduces the afterload at which peak efficiency occurs. However, the peak efficiency of the isolated working rat heart remains unaffected by STZ-induced diabetes.