Pharmacology and Therapeutics - Research Publications

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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 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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    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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    Cu-II(atsm) Attenuates Neuroinflammation
    Choo, XY ; Liddell, JR ; Huuskonen, MT ; Grubman, A ; Moujalled, D ; Roberts, J ; Kysenius, K ; Patten, L ; Quek, H ; Oikari, LE ; Duncan, C ; James, SA ; McInnes, LE ; Hayne, DJ ; Donnelly, PS ; Pollari, E ; Vahatalo, S ; Lejavova, K ; Kettunen, M ; Malm, T ; Koistinaho, J ; White, AR ; Kanninen, KM (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2018-09-24)
    Background: Neuroinflammation and biometal dyshomeostasis are key pathological features of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Inflammation and biometals are linked at the molecular level through regulation of metal buffering proteins such as the metallothioneins. Even though the molecular connections between metals and inflammation have been demonstrated, little information exists on the effect of copper modulation on brain inflammation. Methods: We demonstrate the immunomodulatory potential of the copper bis(thiosemicarbazone) complex CuII(atsm) in an neuroinflammatory model in vivo and describe its anti-inflammatory effects on microglia and astrocytes in vitro. Results: By using a sophisticated in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) approach, we report the efficacy of CuII(atsm) in reducing acute cerebrovascular inflammation caused by peripheral administration of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). CuII(atsm) also induced anti-inflammatory outcomes in primary microglia [significant reductions in nitric oxide (NO), monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)] and astrocytes [significantly reduced NO, MCP-1, and interleukin 6 (IL-6)] in vitro. These anti-inflammatory actions were associated with increased cellular copper levels and increased the neuroprotective protein metallothionein-1 (MT1) in microglia and astrocytes. Conclusion: The beneficial effects of CuII(atsm) on the neuroimmune system suggest copper complexes are potential therapeutics for the treatment of neuroinflammatory conditions.
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    An impaired mitochondrial electron transport chain increases retention of the hypoxia imaging agent diacetylbis(4-methylthiosemicarbazonato)copper(II)
    Donnelly, PS ; Liddell, JR ; Lim, S ; Paterson, BM ; Cater, MA ; Savva, MS ; Mot, AI ; James, JL ; Trounce, IA ; White, AR ; Crouch, PJ (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2012-01-03)
    Radiolabeled diacetylbis(4-methylthiosemicarbazonato)copper(II) [Cu(II)(atsm)] is an effective positron-emission tomography imaging agent for myocardial ischemia, hypoxic tumors, and brain disorders with regionalized oxidative stress, such as mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, and lactic acidosis with stroke-like episodes (MELAS) and Parkinson's disease. An excessively elevated reductive state is common to these conditions and has been proposed as an important mechanism affecting cellular retention of Cu from Cu(II)(atsm). However, data from whole-cell models to demonstrate this mechanism have not yet been provided. The present study used a unique cell culture model, mitochondrial xenocybrids, to provide whole-cell mechanistic data on cellular retention of Cu from Cu(II)(atsm). Genetic incompatibility between nuclear and mitochondrial encoded subunits of the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) in xenocybrid cells compromises normal function of the ETC. As a consequence of this impairment to the ETC we show xenocybrid cells upregulate glycolytic ATP production and accumulate NADH. Compared to control cells the xenocybrid cells retained more Cu after being treated with Cu(II)(atsm). By transfecting the cells with a metal-responsive element reporter construct the increase in Cu retention was shown to involve a Cu(II)(atsm)-induced increase in intracellular bioavailable Cu specifically within the xenocybrid cells. Parallel experiments using cells grown under hypoxic conditions confirmed that a compromised ETC and elevated NADH levels contribute to increased cellular retention of Cu from Cu(II)(atsm). Using these cell culture models our data demonstrate that compromised ETC function, due to the absence of O(2) as the terminal electron acceptor or dysfunction of individual components of the ETC, is an important determinant in driving the intracellular dissociation of Cu(II)(atsm) that increases cellular retention of the Cu.
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    Inhibition of TDP-43 Accumulation by Bis(thiosemicarbazonato)-Copper Complexes
    Parker, SJ ; Meyerowitz, J ; James, JL ; Liddell, JR ; Nonaka, T ; Hasegawa, M ; Kanninen, KM ; Lim, S ; Paterson, BM ; Donnelly, PS ; Crouch, PJ ; White, AR ; Kahle, PJ (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-08-03)
    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, fatal, motor neuron disease with no effective long-term treatment options. Recently, TDP-43 has been identified as a key protein in the pathogenesis of some cases of ALS. Although the role of TDP-43 in motor neuron degeneration is not yet known, TDP-43 has been shown to accumulate in RNA stress granules (SGs) in cell models and in spinal cord tissue from ALS patients. The SG association may be an early pathological change to TDP-43 metabolism and as such a potential target for therapeutic intervention. Accumulation of TDP-43 in SGs induced by inhibition of mitochondrial activity can be inhibited by modulation of cellular kinase activity. We have also found that treatment of cells and animal models of neurodegeneration, including an ALS model, with bioavailable bis(thiosemicarbazonato)copper(II) complexes (Cu(II)(btsc)s) can modulate kinase activity and induce neuroprotective effects. In this study we examined the effect of diacetylbis(-methylthiosemicarbazonato)copper(II) (Cu(II)(atsm)) and glyoxalbis(-methylthiosemicarbazonato)copper(II) (Cu(II)(gtsm)) on TDP-43-positive SGs induced in SH-SY5Y cells in culture. We found that the Cu(II)(btsc)s blocked formation of TDP-43-and human antigen R (HuR)-positive SGs induced by paraquat. The Cu(II)(btsc)s protected neurons from paraquat-mediated cell death. These effects were associated with inhibition of ERK phosphorylation. Co-treatment of cultures with either Cu(II)(atsm) or an ERK inhibitor, PD98059 both prevented ERK activation and blocked formation of TDP-43-and HuR-positive SGs. Cu(II)(atsm) treatment or ERK inhibition also prevented abnormal ubiquitin accumulation in paraquat-treated cells suggesting a link between prolonged ERK activation and abnormal ubiquitin metabolism in paraquat stress and inhibition by Cu. Moreover, Cu(II)(atsm) reduced accumulation of C-terminal (219-414) TDP-43 in transfected SH-SY5Y cells. These results demonstrate that Cu(II)(btsc) complexes could potentially be developed as a neuroprotective agent to modulate neuronal kinase function and inhibit TDP-43 aggregation. Further studies in TDP-43 animal models are warranted.
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    The challenges of using a copper fluorescent sensor (CS1) to track intracellular distributions of copper in neuronal and glial cells
    Price, KA ; Hickey, JL ; Xiao, Z ; Wedd, AG ; James, SA ; Liddell, JR ; Crouch, PJ ; White, AR ; Donnelly, PS (ROYAL SOC CHEMISTRY, 2012-01-01)
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    X-ray fluorescence imaging reveals subcellular biometal disturbances in a childhood neurodegenerative disorder
    Grubman, A ; James, SA ; James, J ; Duncan, C ; Volitakis, I ; Hickey, JL ; Crouch, PJ ; Donnelly, PS ; Kanninen, KM ; Liddell, JR ; Cotman, SL ; de Jonge, MD ; White, AR (ROYAL SOC CHEMISTRY, 2014-01-01)
    Biometals such as zinc, iron, copper and calcium play key roles in diverse physiological processes in the brain, but can be toxic in excess. A hallmark of neurodegeneration is a failure of homeostatic mechanisms controlling the concentration and distribution of these elements, resulting in overload, deficiency or mislocalization. A major roadblock to understanding the impact of altered biometal homeostasis in neurodegenerative disease is the lack of rapid, specific and sensitive techniques capable of providing quantitative subcellular information on biometal homeostasis in situ. Recent advances in X-ray fluorescence detectors have provided an opportunity to rapidly measure biometal content at subcellular resolution in cell populations using X-ray Fluorescence Microscopy (XFM). We applied this approach to investigate subcellular biometal homeostasis in a cerebellar cell line isolated from a natural mouse model of a childhood neurodegenerative disorder, the CLN6 form of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, commonly known as Batten disease. Despite no global changes to whole cell concentrations of zinc or calcium, XFM revealed significant subcellular mislocalization of these important biological second messengers in cerebellar Cln6nclf (CbCln6nclf ) cells. XFM revealed that nuclear-to-cytoplasmic trafficking of zinc was severely perturbed in diseased cells and the subcellular distribution of calcium was drastically altered in CbCln6nclf cells. Subtle differences in the zinc K-edge X-ray Absorption Near Edge Structure (XANES) spectra of control and CbCln6nclf cells suggested that impaired zinc homeostasis may be associated with an altered ligand set in CbCln6nclf cells. Importantly, a zinc-complex, ZnII(atsm), restored the nuclear-to-cytoplasmic zinc ratios in CbCln6nclf cells via nuclear zinc delivery, and restored the relationship between subcellular zinc and calcium levels to that observed in healthy control cells. ZnII(atsm) treatment also resulted in a reduction in the number of calcium-rich puncta observed in CbCln6nclf cells. This study highlights the complementarities of bulk and single cell analysis of metal content for understanding disease states. We demonstrate the utility and broad applicability of XFM for subcellular analysis of perturbed biometal metabolism and mechanism of action studies for novel therapeutics to target neurodegeneration.
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    Zn-II(atsm) is protective in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis model mice via a copper delivery mechanism
    McAllum, EJ ; Roberts, BR ; Hickey, JL ; Dang, TN ; Grubman, A ; Donnelly, PS ; Liddell, JR ; White, AR ; Crouch, PJ (ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE, 2015-09-01)
    Mutations in the metalloprotein Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause approximately 20% of familial cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease for which effective therapeutics do not yet exist. Transgenic rodent models based on over-expression of mutant SOD1 have been developed and these have provided opportunity to test new therapeutic strategies and to study the mechanisms of mutant SOD1 toxicity. Although the mechanisms of mutant SOD1 toxicity are yet to be fully elucidated, incorrect or incomplete metallation of SOD1 confers abnormal folding, aggregation and biochemical properties, and improving the metallation state of SOD1 provides a viable therapeutic option. The therapeutic effects of delivering copper (Cu) to mutant SOD1 have been demonstrated recently. The aim of the current study was to determine if delivery of zinc (Zn) to SOD1 was also therapeutic. To investigate this, SOD1G37R mice were treated with the metal complex diacetyl-bis(4-methylthiosemicarbazonato)zinc(II) [Zn(II)(atsm)]. Treatment resulted in an improvement in locomotor function and survival of the mice. However, biochemical analysis of spinal cord tissue collected from the mice revealed that the treatment did not increase overall Zn levels in the spinal cord nor the Zn content of SOD1. In contrast, overall levels of Cu in the spinal cord were elevated in the Zn(II)(atsm)-treated SOD1G37R mice and the Cu content of SOD1 was also elevated. Further experiments demonstrated transmetallation of Zn(II)(atsm) in the presence of Cu to form the Cu-analogue Cu(II)(atsm), indicating that the observed therapeutic effects for Zn(II)(atsm) in SOD1G37R mice may in fact be due to in vivo transmetallation and subsequent delivery of Cu.