Pharmacology and Therapeutics - Research Publications

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    Metal-deficient SOD1 in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
    Hilton, JB ; White, AR ; Crouch, PJ (SPRINGER, 2015-05-01)
    Mutations to the ubiquitous antioxidant enzyme Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) were the first established genetic cause of the fatal, adult-onset neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It is widely accepted that these mutations do not cause ALS via a loss of antioxidant function, but elucidating the alternate toxic gain of function has proven to be elusive. Under physiological conditions, SOD1 binds one copper ion and one zinc ion per monomer to form a highly stable and functional homodimer, but there is now ample evidence to indicate aberrant persistence of SOD1 in an intermediate metal-deficient state may contribute to the protein's involvement in ALS. This review briefly discusses some of the data to support a role for metal-deficient SOD1 in the development of ALS and some of the outcomes from drug development studies that have aimed to modify the symptoms of ALS by targeting the metal state of SOD1. The implications for the metal state of SOD1 in cases of sporadic ALS that do not involve mutant SOD1 are also discussed.
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    Membrane-targeted strategies for modulating APP and A beta-mediated toxicity
    Price, KA ; Crouch, PJ ; Donnelly, PS ; Masters, CL ; White, AR ; Curtain, CC (WILEY, 2009-02-01)
    Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by numerous pathological features including the accumulation of neurotoxic amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptide. There is currently no effective therapy for AD, but the development of therapeutic strategies that target the cell membrane is gaining increased interest. The amyloid precursor protein (APP) from which Abeta is formed is a membrane-bound protein, and Abeta production and toxicity are both membrane mediated events. This review describes the critical role of cell membranes in AD with particular emphasis on how the composition and structure of the membrane and its specialized regions may influence toxic or benign Abeta/APP pathways in AD. The putative role of copper (Cu) in AD is also discussed, and we highlight how targeting the cell membrane with Cu complexes has therapeutic potential in AD.
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    Increased metal content in the TDP-43(A315T) transgenic mouse model of frontotemporal lobar degeneration and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
    Dang, TNT ; Lim, NKH ; Grubman, A ; Li, Q-X ; Volitakis, I ; White, AR ; Crouch, PJ (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2014-02-11)
    Disrupted metal homeostasis is a consistent feature of neurodegenerative disease in humans and is recapitulated in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and neuronal ceriod lipofuscinosis. While the definitive pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disease in humans remains to be fully elucidated, disease-like symptoms in the mouse models are all driven by the presence or over-expression of a putative pathogenic protein, indicating an in vivo relationship between expression of these proteins, disrupted metal homeostasis and the symptoms of neuronal failure. Recently it was established that mutant TAR DNA binding protein-43 (TDP-43) is associated with the development of frontotemporal lobar degeneration and ALS. Subsequent development of transgenic mice that express human TDP-43 carrying the disease-causing A315T mutation has provided new opportunity to study the underlying mechanisms of TDP-43-related neurodegenerative disease. We assessed the cognitive and locomotive phenotype of TDP-43 (A315T) mice and their wild-type littermates and also assessed bulk metal content of brain and spinal cord tissues. Metal levels in the brain were not affected by the expression of mutant TDP-43, but zinc, copper, and manganese levels were all increased in the spinal cords of TDP-43 (A315T) mice when compared to wild-type littermates. Performance of the TDP-43 (A315T) mice in the Y-maze test for cognitive function was not significantly different to wild-type mice. By contrast, performance of the TDP-43 (A315T) in the rotarod test for locomotive function was consistently worse than wild-type mice. These preliminary in vivo data are the first to show that expression of a disease-causing form of TDP-43 is sufficient to disrupt metal ion homeostasis in the central nervous system. Disrupted metal ion homeostasis in the spinal cord but not the brain may explain why the TDP-43 (A315T) mice show symptoms of locomotive decline and not cognitive decline.
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    Increased Zinc and Manganese in Parallel with Neurodegeneration, Synaptic Protein Changes and Activation of Akt/GSK3 Signaling in Ovine CLN6 Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis
    Kanninen, KM ; Grubman, A ; Meyerowitz, J ; Duncan, C ; Tan, J-L ; Parker, SJ ; Crouch, PJ ; Paterson, BM ; Hickey, JL ; Donnelly, PS ; Volitakis, I ; Tammen, I ; Palmer, DN ; White, AR ; Kahle, PJ (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-03-14)
    Mutations in the CLN6 gene cause a variant late infantile form of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL; Batten disease). CLN6 loss leads to disease clinically characterized by vision impairment, motor and cognitive dysfunction, and seizures. Accumulating evidence suggests that alterations in metal homeostasis and cellular signaling pathways are implicated in several neurodegenerative and developmental disorders, yet little is known about their role in the NCLs. To explore the disease mechanisms of CLN6 NCL, metal concentrations and expression of proteins implicated in cellular signaling pathways were assessed in brain tissue from South Hampshire and Merino CLN6 sheep. Analyses revealed increased zinc and manganese concentrations in affected sheep brain in those regions where neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration first occur. Synaptic proteins, the metal-binding protein metallothionein, and the Akt/GSK3 and ERK/MAPK cellular signaling pathways were also altered. These results demonstrate that altered metal concentrations, synaptic protein changes, and aberrant modulation of cellular signaling pathways are characteristic features in the CLN6 ovine form of NCL.
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    Editorial: Metals and neurodegeneration: restoring the balance
    White, AR ; Kanninen, KM ; Crouch, PJ (FRONTIERS RESEARCH FOUNDATION, 2015-07-02)
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    Mild Oxidative Stress Induces Redistribution of BACE1 in Non-Apoptotic Conditions and Promotes the Amyloidogenic Processing of Alzheimer's Disease Amyloid Precursor Protein
    Tan, J-L ; Li, Q-X ; Ciccotosto, GD ; Crouch, PJ ; Culvenor, JG ; White, AR ; Evin, G ; Xie, Z (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-04-17)
    BACE1 is responsible for β-secretase cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein (APP), which represents the first step in the production of amyloid β (Aβ) peptides. Previous reports, by us and others, have indicated that the levels of BACE1 protein and activity are increased in the brain cortex of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The association between oxidative stress (OS) and AD has prompted investigations that support the potentiation of BACE1 expression and enzymatic activity by OS. Here, we have established conditions to analyse the effects of mild, non-lethal OS on BACE1 in primary neuronal cultures, independently from apoptotic mechanisms that were shown to impair BACE1 turnover. Six-hour treatment of mouse primary cortical cells with 10-40 µM hydrogen peroxide did not significantly compromise cell viability but it did produce mild oxidative stress (mOS), as shown by the increased levels of reactive radical species and activation of p38 stress kinase. The endogenous levels of BACE1 mRNA and protein were not significantly altered in these conditions, whereas a toxic H2O2 concentration (100 µM) caused an increase in BACE1 protein levels. Notably, mOS conditions resulted in increased levels of the BACE1 C-terminal cleavage product of APP, β-CTF. Subcellular fractionation techniques showed that mOS caused a major rearrangement of BACE1 localization from light to denser fractions, resulting in an increased distribution of BACE1 in fractions containing APP and markers for trans-Golgi network and early endosomes. Collectively, these data demonstrate that mOS does not modify BACE1 expression but alters BACE1 subcellular compartmentalization to favour the amyloidogenic processing of APP, and thus offer new insight in the early molecular events of AD pathogenesis.
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    The hypoxia imaging agent Cu-II(atsm) is neuroprotective and improves motor and cognitive functions in multiple animal models of Parkinson's disease
    Hung, LW ; Villemagne, VL ; Cheng, L ; Sherratt, NA ; Ayton, S ; White, AR ; Crouch, PJ ; Lim, S ; Leong, SL ; Wilkins, S ; George, J ; Roberts, BR ; Pham, CLL ; Liu, X ; Chiu, FCK ; Shackleford, DM ; Powell, AK ; Masters, CL ; Bush, AI ; O'Keefe, G ; Culvenor, JG ; Cappai, R ; Cherny, RA ; Donnelly, PS ; Hill, AF ; Finkelstein, DI ; Barnham, KJ (ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2012-04-09)
    Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive, chronic disease characterized by dyskinesia, rigidity, instability, and tremors. The disease is defined by the presence of Lewy bodies, which primarily consist of aggregated α-synuclein protein, and is accompanied by the loss of monoaminergic neurons. Current therapeutic strategies only give symptomatic relief of motor impairment and do not address the underlying neurodegeneration. Hence, we have identified Cu(II)(atsm) as a potential therapeutic for PD. Drug administration to four different animal models of PD resulted in improved motor and cognition function, rescued nigral cell loss, and improved dopamine metabolism. In vitro, this compound is able to inhibit the effects of peroxynitrite-driven toxicity, including the formation of nitrated α-synuclein oligomers. Our results show that Cu(II)(atsm) is effective in reversing parkinsonian defects in animal models and has the potential to be a successful treatment of PD.
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    Cu-II(atsm) improves the neurological phenotype and survival of SOD1(G93A) mice and selectively increases enzymatically active SOD1 in the spinal cord
    Hilton, JB ; Mercer, SW ; Lim, NKH ; Faux, NG ; Buncic, G ; Beckman, JS ; Roberts, BR ; Donnelly, PS ; White, AR ; Crouch, PJ (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017-02-13)
    Ubiquitous expression of mutant Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) selectively affects motor neurons in the central nervous system (CNS), causing the adult-onset degenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The CNS-specific impact of ubiquitous mutant SOD1 expression is recapitulated in transgenic mouse models of the disease. Here we present outcomes for the metallo-complex CuII(atsm) tested for therapeutic efficacy in mice expressing SOD1G93A on a mixed genetic background. Oral administration of CuII(atsm) delayed the onset of neurological symptoms, improved locomotive capacity and extended overall survival. Although the ALS-like phenotype of SOD1G93A mice is instigated by expression of the mutant SOD1, we show the improved phenotype of the CuII(atsm)-treated animals involves an increase in mature mutant SOD1 protein in the disease-affected spinal cord, where concomitant increases in copper and SOD1 activity are also evident. In contrast to these effects in the spinal cord, treating with CuII(atsm) had no effect in liver on either mutant SOD1 protein levels or its activity, indicating a CNS-selective SOD1 response to the drug. These data provide support for CuII(atsm) as a treatment option for ALS as well as insight to the CNS-selective effects of mutant SOD1.
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    Altered biometal homeostasis is associated with CLN6 mRNA loss in mouse neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis
    Kanninen, KM ; Grubman, A ; Caragounis, A ; Duncan, C ; Parker, SJ ; Lidgerwood, GE ; Volitakis, I ; Ganio, G ; Crouch, PJ ; White, AR (COMPANY OF BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2013-06-15)
    Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses, the most common fatal childhood neurodegenerative illnesses, share many features with more prevalent neurodegenerative diseases. Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses are caused by mutations in CLN genes. CLN6 encodes a transmembrane endoplasmic reticulum protein with no known function. We characterized the behavioural phenotype of spontaneous mutant mice modeling CLN6 disease, and demonstrate progressive motor and visual decline and reduced lifespan in these mice, consistent with symptoms observed in neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis patients. Alterations to biometal homeostasis are known to play a critical role in pathology in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's and motor neuron diseases. We have previously shown accumulation of the biometals, zinc, copper, manganese and cobalt, in CLN6 Merino and South Hampshire sheep at the age of symptom onset. Here we determine the physiological and disease-associated expression of CLN6, demonstrating regional CLN6 transcript loss, and concurrent accumulation of the same biometals in the CNS and the heart of presymptomatic CLN6 mice. Furthermore, increased expression of the ER/Golgi-localized cation transporter protein, Zip7, was detected in cerebellar Purkinje cells and whole brain fractions. Purkinje cells not only control motor function, an early symptomatic change in the CLN6 mice, but also display prominent neuropathological changes in mouse models and patients with different forms of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses. Whole brain fractionation analysis revealed biometal accumulation in fractions expressing markers for ER, Golgi, endosomes and lysosomes of CLN6 brains. These data are consistent with a link between CLN6 expression and biometal homeostasis in CLN6 disease, and provide further support for altered cation transporter regulation as a key factor in neurodegeneration.
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    C-Jun N-terminal kinase controls TDP-43 accumulation in stress granules induced by oxidative stress
    Meyerowitz, J ; Parker, SJ ; Vella, LJ ; Ng, DCH ; Price, KA ; Liddell, JR ; Caragounis, A ; Li, Q-X ; Masters, CL ; Nonaka, T ; Hasegawa, M ; Bogoyevitch, MA ; Kanninen, KM ; Crouch, PJ ; White, AR (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2011-08-08)
    BACKGROUND: TDP-43 proteinopathies are characterized by loss of nuclear TDP-43 expression and formation of C-terminal TDP-43 fragmentation and accumulation in the cytoplasm. Recent studies have shown that TDP-43 can accumulate in RNA stress granules (SGs) in response to cell stresses and this could be associated with subsequent formation of TDP-43 ubiquinated protein aggregates. However, the initial mechanisms controlling endogenous TDP-43 accumulation in SGs during chronic disease are not understood. In this study we investigated the mechanism of TDP-43 processing and accumulation in SGs in SH-SY5Y neuronal-like cells exposed to chronic oxidative stress. Cell cultures were treated overnight with the mitochondrial inhibitor paraquat and examined for TDP-43 and SG processing. RESULTS: We found that mild stress induced by paraquat led to formation of TDP-43 and HuR-positive SGs, a proportion of which were ubiquitinated. The co-localization of TDP-43 with SGs could be fully prevented by inhibition of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). JNK inhibition did not prevent formation of HuR-positive SGs and did not prevent diffuse TDP-43 accumulation in the cytosol. In contrast, ERK or p38 inhibition prevented formation of both TDP-43 and HuR-positive SGs. JNK inhibition also inhibited TDP-43 SG localization in cells acutely treated with sodium arsenite and reduced the number of aggregates per cell in cultures transfected with C-terminal TDP-43 162-414 and 219-414 constructs. CONCLUSIONS: Our studies are the first to demonstrate a critical role for kinase control of TDP-43 accumulation in SGs and may have important implications for development of treatments for FTD and ALS, targeting cell signal pathway control of TDP-43 aggregation.