Pharmacology and Therapeutics - Research Publications

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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.
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    Oral Treatment with Cu-II(atsm) Increases Mutant SOD1 In Vivo but Protects Motor Neurons and Improves the Phenotype of a Transgenic Mouse Model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
    Roberts, BR ; Lim, NKH ; McAllum, EJ ; Donnelly, PS ; Hare, DJ ; Doble, PA ; Turner, BJ ; Price, KA ; Lim, SC ; Paterson, BM ; Hickey, JL ; Rhoads, TW ; Williams, JR ; Kanninen, KM ; Hung, LW ; Liddell, JR ; Grubman, A ; Monty, J-F ; Llanos, RM ; Kramer, DR ; Mercer, JFB ; Bush, AI ; Masters, CL ; Duce, JA ; Li, Q-X ; Beckman, JS ; Barnham, KJ ; White, AR ; Crouch, PJ (SOC NEUROSCIENCE, 2014-06-04)
    Mutations in the metallo-protein Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in humans and an expression level-dependent phenotype in transgenic rodents. We show that oral treatment with the therapeutic agent diacetyl-bis(4-methylthiosemicarbazonato)copper(II) [Cu(II)(atsm)] increased the concentration of mutant SOD1 (SOD1G37R) in ALS model mice, but paradoxically improved locomotor function and survival of the mice. To determine why the mice with increased levels of mutant SOD1 had an improved phenotype, we analyzed tissues by mass spectrometry. These analyses revealed most SOD1 in the spinal cord tissue of the SOD1G37R mice was Cu deficient. Treating with Cu(II)(atsm) decreased the pool of Cu-deficient SOD1 and increased the pool of fully metallated (holo) SOD1. Tracking isotopically enriched (65)Cu(II)(atsm) confirmed the increase in holo-SOD1 involved transfer of Cu from Cu(II)(atsm) to SOD1, suggesting the improved locomotor function and survival of the Cu(II)(atsm)-treated SOD1G37R mice involved, at least in part, the ability of the compound to improve the Cu content of the mutant SOD1. This was supported by improved survival of SOD1G37R mice that expressed the human gene for the Cu uptake protein CTR1. Improving the metal content of mutant SOD1 in vivo with Cu(II)(atsm) did not decrease levels of misfolded SOD1. These outcomes indicate the metal content of SOD1 may be a greater determinant of the toxicity of the protein in mutant SOD1-associated forms of ALS than the mutations themselves. Improving the metal content of SOD1 therefore represents a valid therapeutic strategy for treating ALS caused by SOD1.