Several neurodegenerative diseases are driven by the toxic gain-of-function of specific proteins within the brain. Elevated levels of alpha-synuclein (α-Syn) appear to drive neurotoxicity in Parkinson's disease (PD); neuronal accumulation of tau is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD); and their increased levels cause neurodegeneration in humans and model organisms. Despite the clinical differences between AD and PD, several lines of evidence suggest that α-Syn and tau overlap pathologically. The connections between α-Syn and tau led us to ask whether these proteins might be regulated through a shared pathway. We therefore screened for genes that affect post-translational levels of α-Syn and tau. We found that TRIM28 regulates α-Syn and tau levels and that its reduction rescues toxicity in animal models of tau- and α-Syn-mediated degeneration. TRIM28 stabilizes and promotes the nuclear accumulation and toxicity of both proteins. Intersecting screens across comorbid proteinopathies thus reveal shared mechanisms and therapeutic entry points.
- Huda Y Zoghbi
- Huda Y Zoghbi
- Maxime WC Rousseaux
- Cristian A Lasagna-Reeves
- Huda Y Zoghbi
- Juan C Troncoso
- Juan C Troncoso
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: Up to five mice were housed per cage and kept on a 12 h light; 12 h dark cycle and were given water and standard rodent chow ad libitum. All procedures carried out in mice were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee for Baylor College of Medicine and Affiliates.
Human subjects: Tissue from patients with PD, AD, PSP and control subjects were obtained from the Neuropathology Core at the Johns Hopkins Udall Centre. Tissue was obtained from consenting donors and use conformed to JHMI Institutional Review Board approved protocols.
- Susan L Ackerman, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Diego, United States
© 2016, Rousseaux et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Defining the origin of neuronal diversity is a major challenge in developmental neurobiology. The Drosophila visual system is an excellent paradigm to study how cellular diversity is generated. Photoreceptors from the eye disc grow their axons into the optic lobe and secrete Hedgehog (Hh) to induce the lamina, such that for every unit eye there is a corresponding lamina unit made up of post-mitotic precursors stacked into columns. Each differentiated column contains five lamina neuron types (L1-L5), making it the simplest neuropil in the optic lobe, yet how this diversity is generated was unknown. Here, we found that Hh pathway activity is graded along the distal-proximal axis of lamina columns, and further determined that this gradient in pathway activity arises from a gradient of Hh ligand. We manipulated Hh pathway activity cell autonomously in lamina precursors and non-cell autonomously by inactivating the Hh ligand and by knocking it down in photoreceptors. These manipulations showed that different thresholds of activity specify unique cell identities, with more proximal cell types specified in response to progressively lower Hh levels. Thus, our data establish that Hh acts as a morphogen to pattern the lamina. Although this is the first such report during Drosophila nervous system development, our work uncovers a remarkable similarity with the vertebrate neural tube, which is patterned by Sonic Hh. Altogether, we show that differentiating neurons can regulate the neuronal diversity of their distant target fields through morphogen gradients.
Neural circuit formation and function require that diverse neurons are specified in appropriate numbers. Known strategies for controlling neuronal numbers involve regulating either cell proliferation or survival. We used the Drosophila visual system to probe how neuronal numbers are set. Photoreceptors from the eye-disc induce their target field, the lamina, such that for every unit eye there is a corresponding lamina unit (column). Although each column initially contains ~6 post-mitotic lamina precursors, only 5 differentiate into neurons, called L1-L5; the ‘extra’ precursor, which is invariantly positioned above the L5 neuron in each column, undergoes apoptosis. Here, we showed that a glial population called the outer chiasm giant glia (xgO), which resides below the lamina, secretes multiple ligands to induce L5 differentiation in response to epidermal growth factor (EGF) from photoreceptors. By forcing neuronal differentiation in the lamina, we uncovered that though fated to die, the ‘extra’ precursor is specified as an L5. Therefore, two precursors are specified as L5s but only one differentiates during normal development. We found that the row of precursors nearest to xgO differentiate into L5s and, in turn, antagonise differentiation signalling to prevent the ‘extra’ precursors from differentiating, resulting in their death. Thus, an intricate interplay of glial signals and feedback from differentiating neurons defines an invariant and stereotyped pattern of neuronal differentiation and programmed cell death to ensure that lamina columns each contain exactly one L5 neuron.