Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health - Research Publications

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    Targeting the Progression of Parkinson's Disease
    George, JL ; Mok, S ; Moses, D ; Wilkins, S ; Bush, AI ; Cherny, RA ; Finkelstein, DI (BENTHAM SCIENCE PUBL LTD, 2009-03-01)
    By the time a patient first presents with symptoms of Parkinson's disease at the clinic, a significant proportion (50-70%) of the cells in the substantia nigra (SN) has already been destroyed. This degeneration progresses until, within a few years, most of the cells have died. Except for rare cases of familial PD, the initial trigger for cell loss is unknown. However, we do have some clues as to why the damage, once initiated, progresses unabated. It would represent a major advance in therapy to arrest cell loss at the stage when the patient first presents at the clinic. Current therapies for Parkinson's disease focus on relieving the motor symptoms of the disease, these unfortunately lose their effectiveness as the neurodegeneration and symptoms progress. Many experimental approaches are currently being investigated attempting to alter the progression of the disease. These range from replacement of the lost neurons to neuroprotective therapies; each of these will be briefly discussed in this review. The main thrust of this review is to explore the interactions between dopamine, alpha synuclein and redox-active metals. There is abundant evidence suggesting that destruction of SN cells occurs as a result of a self-propagating series of reactions involving dopamine, alpha synuclein and redox-active metals. A potent reducing agent, the neurotransmitter dopamine has a central role in this scheme, acting through redox metallo-chemistry to catalyze the formation of toxic oligomers of alpha-synuclein and neurotoxic metabolites including 6-hydroxydopamine. It has been hypothesized that these feed the cycle of neurodegeneration by generating further oxidative stress. The goal of dissecting and understanding the observed pathological changes is to identify therapeutic targets to mitigate the progression of this debilitating disease.
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    Intracellular amyloid formation in muscle cells of A beta-transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans: determinants and physiological role in copper detoxification
    Minniti, AN ; Rebolledo, DL ; Grez, PM ; Fadic, R ; Aldunate, R ; Volitakis, I ; Cherny, RA ; Opazo, C ; Masters, C ; Bush, AI ; Inestrosa, NC (BMC, 2009-01-06)
    BACKGROUND: The amyloid beta-peptide is a ubiquitous peptide, which is prone to aggregate forming soluble toxic oligomers and insoluble less-toxic aggregates. The intrinsic and external/environmental factors that determine Abeta aggregation in vivo are poorly understood, as well as the cellular meaning of this process itself. Genetic data as well as cell biological and biochemical evidence strongly support the hypothesis that Abeta is a major player in the onset and development of Alzheimer's disease. In addition, it is also known that Abeta is involved in Inclusion Body Myositis, a common myopathy of the elderly in which the peptide accumulates intracellularly. RESULTS: In the present work, we found that intracellular Abeta aggregation in muscle cells of Caenorhabditis elegans overexpressing Abeta peptide is affected by two single amino acid substitutions, E22G (Arctic) and V18A (NIC). Both variations show decrease intracellular amyloidogenesis compared to wild type Abeta. We show that intracellular amyloid aggregation of wild type Abeta is accelerated by Cu2+ and diminished by copper chelators. Moreover, we demonstrate through toxicity and behavioral assays that Abeta-transgenic worms display a higher tolerance to Cu2+ toxic effects and that this resistance may be linked to the formation of amyloid aggregates. CONCLUSION: Our data show that intracellular Abeta amyloid aggregates may trap excess of free Cu2+ buffering its cytotoxic effects and that accelerated intracellular Abeta aggregation may be part of a cell protective mechanism.
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    Mitochondrial Oxidative Stress Causes Hyperphosphorylation of Tau
    Melov, S ; Adlard, PA ; Morten, K ; Johnson, F ; Golden, TR ; Hinerfeld, D ; Schilling, B ; Mavros, C ; Masters, CL ; Volitakis, I ; Li, Q-X ; Laughton, K ; Hubbard, A ; Cherny, RA ; Gibson, B ; Bush, AI ; Khoury, JE (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2007-06-20)
    Age-related neurodegenerative disease has been mechanistically linked with mitochondrial dysfunction via damage from reactive oxygen species produced within the cell. We determined whether increased mitochondrial oxidative stress could modulate or regulate two of the key neurochemical hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD): tau phosphorylation, and beta-amyloid deposition. Mice lacking superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) die within the first week of life, and develop a complex heterogeneous phenotype arising from mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. Treatment of these mice with catalytic antioxidants increases their lifespan and rescues the peripheral phenotypes, while uncovering central nervous system pathology. We examined sod2 null mice differentially treated with high and low doses of a catalytic antioxidant and observed striking elevations in the levels of tau phosphorylation (at Ser-396 and other phospho-epitopes of tau) in the low-dose antioxidant treated mice at AD-associated residues. This hyperphosphorylation of tau was prevented with an increased dose of the antioxidant, previously reported to be sufficient to prevent neuropathology. We then genetically combined a well-characterized mouse model of AD (Tg2576) with heterozygous sod2 knockout mice to study the interactions between mitochondrial oxidative stress and cerebral Ass load. We found that mitochondrial SOD2 deficiency exacerbates amyloid burden and significantly reduces metal levels in the brain, while increasing levels of Ser-396 phosphorylated tau. These findings mechanistically link mitochondrial oxidative stress with the pathological features of AD.
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    Mechanisms of Copper Ion Mediated Huntington's Disease Progression
    Fox, JH ; Kama, JA ; Lieberman, G ; Chopra, R ; Dorsey, K ; Chopra, V ; Volitakis, I ; Cherny, RA ; Bush, AI ; Hersch, S ; Gwinn-Hardy, K (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2007-03-28)
    Huntington's disease (HD) is caused by a dominant polyglutamine expansion within the N-terminus of huntingtin protein and results in oxidative stress, energetic insufficiency and striatal degeneration. Copper and iron are increased in the striata of HD patients, but the role of these metals in HD pathogenesis is unknown. We found, using inductively-coupled-plasma mass spectroscopy, that elevations of copper and iron found in human HD brain are reiterated in the brains of affected HD transgenic mice. Increased brain copper correlated with decreased levels of the copper export protein, amyloid precursor protein. We hypothesized that increased amounts of copper bound to low affinity sites could contribute to pro-oxidant activities and neurodegeneration. We focused on two proteins: huntingtin, because of its centrality to HD, and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), because of its documented sensitivity to copper, necessity for normoxic brain energy metabolism and evidence for altered lactate metabolism in HD brain. The first 171 amino acids of wild-type huntingtin, and its glutamine expanded mutant form, interacted with copper, but not iron. N171 reduced Cu(2+)in vitro in a 1:1 copper:protein stoichiometry indicating that this fragment is very redox active. Further, copper promoted and metal chelation inhibited aggregation of cell-free huntingtin. We found decreased LDH activity, but not protein, and increased lactate levels in HD transgenic mouse brain. The LDH inhibitor oxamate resulted in neurodegeneration when delivered intra-striatially to healthy mice, indicating that LDH inhibition is relevant to neurodegeneration in HD. Our findings support a role of pro-oxidant copper-protein interactions in HD progression and offer a novel target for pharmacotherapeutics.