Pharmacology and Therapeutics - Research Publications

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    Failure of Autophagy-Lysosomal Pathways in Rod Photoreceptors Causes the Early Retinal Degeneration Phenotype Observed in Cln6(nclf) Mice
    von Eisenhart-Rothe, P ; Grubman, A ; Greferath, U ; Fothergill, LJ ; Jobling, A ; Phipps, JA ; White, AR ; Fletcher, EL ; Vessey, KA (ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC, 2018-10-01)
    Purpose: Vision loss caused by photoreceptor death represents one of the first symptoms in neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, a condition characterized by accumulation of intracellular waste. Cln6nclf mice have a naturally occurring mutation in ceroid-lipofuscinosis neuronal (CLN) protein 6 and are a model of this disorder. In order to identify the effect intracellular waste (lipofuscin) accumulation plays in driving retinal degeneration, the time course of degeneration was carefully characterized functionally using the electroretinogram and structurally using histology. Methods: Cln6nclf and C57BL/6J, wild-type, mice were studied at postnatal day 18 (P18), P30, P60, P120, and P240, and retinal degeneration was correlated with changes in the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) and neuronal autophagy-lysosomal pathways using super-resolution microscopy. Results: In Cln6nclf mice there was significant loss of rod photoreceptor function at P18, prior to photoreceptor nuclei loss at P60. In contrast, cone pathway function was not affected until P240. The loss of rod photoreceptor function correlated with significant disruption of the autophagy-lysosomal degradation pathways within photoreceptors, but not in the RPE or other retinal neurons. Additionally, there was cytosolic accumulation of P62 and undigested mitochondrial-derived, ATP synthase subunit C in the photoreceptor layers of Cln6nclf mice at P30. Conclusions: These results suggest that rod photoreceptors have an increased sensitivity to disturbances in the autophagy-lysosomal pathway and the subsequent failure of mitochondrial turnover, relative to other retinal cells. It is likely that primary failure of the rod photoreceptors rather than the RPE or other retinal neurons underlies the early visual dysfunction that occurs in the Cln6nclf mouse model.
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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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    Neuroinflammation and copper in Alzheimer's disease.
    Choo, XY ; Alukaidey, L ; White, AR ; Grubman, A (Hindawi Limited, 2013)
    Inflammation is the innate immune response to infection or tissue damage. Initiation of proinflammatory cascades in the central nervous system (CNS) occurs through recognition of danger associated molecular patterns by cognate immune receptors expressed on inflammatory cells and leads to rapid responses to remove the danger stimulus. The presence of activated microglia and astrocytes in the vicinity of amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and mouse models implicates inflammation as a contributor to AD pathogenesis. Activated microglia play a critical role in amyloid clearance, but chronic deregulation of CNS inflammatory pathways results in secretion of neurotoxic mediators that ultimately contribute to neurodegeneration in AD. Copper (Cu) homeostasis is profoundly affected in AD, and accumulated extracellular Cu drives A β aggregation, while intracellular Cu deficiency limits bioavailable Cu required for CNS functions. This review presents an overview of inflammatory events that occur in AD in response to A β and highlights recent advances on the role of Cu in modulation of beneficial and detrimental inflammatory responses 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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    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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    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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    Mitochondrial metals as a potential therapeutic target in neurodegeneration
    Grubman, A ; White, AR ; Liddell, JR (WILEY, 2014-04-01)
    Transition metals are critical for enzyme function and protein folding, but in excess can mediate neurotoxic oxidative processes. As mitochondria are particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage due to radicals generated during ATP production, mitochondrial biometal homeostasis must therefore be tightly controlled to safely harness the redox potential of metal enzyme cofactors. Dysregulation of metal functions is evident in numerous neurological disorders including Alzheimer's disease, stroke, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Friedrich's ataxia. This review describes the mitochondrial metal defects in these disorders and highlights novel metal-based therapeutic approaches that target mitochondrial metal homeostasis in neurological disorders.
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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.
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    Kinase Inhibitor Screening Identifies Cyclin-Dependent Kinases and Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 as Potential Modulators of TDP-43 Cytosolic Accumulation during Cell Stress
    Moujalled, D ; James, JL ; Parker, SJ ; Lidgerwood, GE ; Duncan, C ; Meyerowitz, J ; Nonaka, T ; Hasegawa, M ; Kanninen, KM ; Grubman, A ; Liddell, JR ; Crouch, PJ ; White, AR ; Buratti, E (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-06-26)
    Abnormal processing of TAR DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43) has been identified as a major factor in neuronal degeneration during amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). It is unclear how changes to TDP-43, including nuclear to cytosolic translocation and subsequent accumulation, are controlled in these diseases. TDP-43 is a member of the heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) RNA binding protein family and is known to associate with cytosolic RNA stress granule proteins in ALS and FTLD. hnRNP trafficking and accumulation is controlled by the action of specific kinases including members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. However, little is known about how kinase pathways control TDP-43 movement and accumulation. In this study, we used an in vitro model of TDP-43-positve stress granule formation to screen for the effect of kinase inhibitors on TDP-43 accumulation. We found that while a number of kinase inhibitors, particularly of the MAPK pathways modulated both TDP-43 and the global stress granule marker, human antigen R (HuR), multiple inhibitors were more specific to TDP-43 accumulation, including inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3). Close correlation was observed between effects of these inhibitors on TDP-43, hnRNP K and TIAR, but often with different effects on HuR accumulation. This may indicate a potential interaction between TDP-43, hnRNP K and TIAR. CDK inhibitors were also found to reverse pre-formed TDP-43-positive stress granules and both CDK and GSK3 inhibitors abrogated the accumulation of C-terminal TDP-43 (219-414) in transfected cells. Further studies are required to confirm the specific kinases involved and whether their action is through phosphorylation of the TDP-43 binding partner hnRNP K. This knowledge provides a valuable insight into the mechanisms controlling abnormal cytoplasmic TDP-43 accumulation and may herald new opportunities for kinase modulation-based therapeutic intervention in ALS and FTLD.