Mutations in Frataxin (FXN) cause Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA), a recessive neurodegenerative disorder. Previous studies have proposed that loss of FXN causes mitochondrial dysfunction, which triggers elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) and leads to the demise of neurons. Here we describe a ROS independent mechanism that contributes to neurodegeneration in fly FXN mutants. We show that loss of frataxin homolog (fh) in Drosophila leads to iron toxicity, which in turn induces sphingolipid synthesis and ectopically activates 3-phosphoinositide dependent protein kinase-1 (Pdk1) and myocyte enhancer factor-2 (Mef2). Dampening iron toxicity, inhibiting sphingolipid synthesis by Myriocin, or reducing Pdk1 or Mef2 levels, all effectively suppress neurodegeneration in fh mutants. Moreover, increasing dihydrosphingosine activates Mef2 activity through PDK1 in mammalian neuronal cell line suggesting that the mechanisms are evolutionarily conserved. Our results indicate that an iron/sphingolipid/PDk1/Mef2 pathway may play a role in FRDA.
- J Paul Taylor, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, United States
© 2016, Chen et al.
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Pyramidal neurons, a mainstay of cortical regions, receive a plethora of inputs from various areas onto their morphologically distinct apical and basal trees. Both trees differentially contribute to the somatic response, defining distinct anatomical and possibly functional sub-units. To elucidate the contribution of each tree to the encoding of visual stimuli at the somatic level, we modeled the response pattern of a mouse L2/3 V1 pyramidal neuron to orientation tuned synaptic input. Towards this goal, we used a morphologically detailed computational model of a single cell that replicates electrophysiological and two-photon imaging data. Our simulations predict a synergistic effect of apical and basal trees on somatic action potential generation: basal tree activity, in the form of either depolarization or dendritic spiking, is necessary for producing somatic activity, despite the fact that most somatic spikes are heavily driven by apical dendritic spikes. This model provides evidence for synergistic computations taking place in the basal and apical trees of the L2/3 V1 neuron along with mechanistic explanations for tree-specific contributions and emphasizes the potential role of predictive and attentional feedback input in these cells.
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