Genetic modulation of BDNF signaling affects the outcome of axonal competition in vivo.
ABSTRACT: Activity-dependent competition that operates on branch stability or formation plays a critical role in shaping the pattern and complexity of axonal terminal arbors. In the mammalian central nervous system (CNS), the effect of activity-dependent competition on axon arborization and on the assembly of sensory maps is well established. However, the molecular pathways that modulate axonal-branch stability or formation in competitive environments remain unknown.We establish an in vivo axonal-competition paradigm in the mouse olfactory system by employing a genetic strategy that permits suppression of neurosecretory activity in random subsets of olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs). Long-term follow up confirmed that this genetic manipulation triggers competition by revealing a bias toward selective stabilization of active arbors and local degeneration of synaptically silent ones. By using a battery of genetically modified mouse models, we demonstrate that a decrease either in the total levels or the levels of activity-dependent secreted BDNF (due to a val66met substitution), rescues silent arbors from withering. We show that this effect may be mediated, at least in part, by p75(NTR).We establish and experimentally validate a genetic in vivo axonal-competition paradigm in the mammalian CNS. By using this paradigm, we provide evidence for a specific effect of BDNF signaling on terminal-arbor pruning under competition in vivo. Our results have implications for the formation and refinement of the olfactory and other sensory maps, as well as for neuropsychiatric diseases and traits modulated by the BDNF val66met variant.
Project description:Sensory tissues exposed to the environment, such as skin, olfactory epithelia, and taste buds, continuously renew; therefore, peripheral neurons must have mechanisms to maintain appropriate innervation patterns. Although somatosensory neurons regenerate after injury, little is known about how these neurons cope with normal target organ changes. To elucidate neuronal plasticity in healthy skin, we analyzed the structure of Merkel-cell afferents, which are gentle touch receptors, during skin remodeling that accompanies mouse hair-follicle regeneration. The number of Merkel cells is reduced by 90% and axonal arbors are simplified during active hair growth. These structures rebound within just days. Computational modeling predicts that Merkel-cell changes are probabilistic, but myelinated branch stability depends on Merkel-cell inputs. Electrophysiology and behavior demonstrate that tactile responsiveness is less reliable during active growth than in resting skin. These results reveal that somatosensory neurons display structural plasticity at the cost of impairment in the reliability of encoding gentle touch.
Project description:Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) modulates the pruning of synaptically silent axonal arbors. The Met allele of the BDNF gene is associated with a reduction in the neurotrophin's activity-dependent release. We used diffusion-weighted imaging to construct structural brain networks for 36 healthy subjects with known BDNF genotypes. Through permutation testing we discovered clear differences in connection strength between subjects carrying the Met allele and those homozygotic for the Val allele. We trained a Gaussian process classifier capable of identifying the subjects' allelic group with 86% accuracy and high predictive value. In Met carriers structural connectivity was greatly increased throughout the forebrain, particularly in connections corresponding to the anterior and superior corona radiata as well as corticothalamic and corticospinal projections from the sensorimotor, premotor, and prefrontal portions of the internal capsule. Interhemispheric connectivity was also increased via the corpus callosum and anterior commissure, and extremely high connectivity values were found between inferior medial frontal polar regions via the anterior forceps. We propose that the decreased availability of BDNF leads to deficits in axonal maintenance in carriers of the Met allele, and that this produces mesoscale changes in white matter architecture.
Project description:In addition to being critical for apoptosis, components of the apoptotic pathway, such as caspases, are involved in other physiological processes in many types of cells, including neurons. However, very little is known about their role in dynamic, nonphysically destructive processes, such as axonal arborization and synaptogenesis. We show that caspases were locally active in vivo at the branch points of young, dynamic retinal ganglion cell axonal arbors but not in the cell body or in stable mature arbors. Caspase activation, dependent on Caspase-3, Caspase-9, and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), rapidly increased at branch points corresponding with branch tip addition. Time-lapse imaging revealed that knockdown of Caspase-3 and Caspase-9 led to more stable arbors and presynaptic sites. Genetic analysis showed that Caspase-3, Caspase-9, and p38 MAPK interacted with Slit1a-Robo2 signaling, suggesting that localized activation of caspases lie downstream of a ligand receptor system, acting as key promoters of axonal branch tip and synaptic dynamics to restrict arbor growth in vivo in the central nervous system.
Project description:Axon growth and branching, and development of neuronal polarity are critically dependent on proper organization and dynamics of the microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton. MTs must organize with correct polarity for delivery of diverse cargos to appropriate subcellular locations, yet the molecular mechanisms regulating MT polarity remain poorly understood. Moreover, how an actively branching axon reorganizes MTs to direct their plus ends distally at branch points is unknown. We used high-speed, <i>in vivo</i> imaging of polymerizing MT plus ends to characterize MT dynamics in developing sensory axon arbors in zebrafish embryos. We find that axonal MTs are highly dynamic throughout development, and that the peripheral and central axons of sensory neurons show differences in MT behaviors. Furthermore, we show that Calsyntenin-1 (Clstn-1), a kinesin adaptor required for sensory axon branching, also regulates MT polarity in developing axon arbors. In wild type neurons the vast majority of MTs are directed in the correct plus-end-distal orientation from early stages of development. Loss of Clstn-1 causes an increase in MTs polymerizing in the retrograde direction. These misoriented MTs most often are found near growth cones and branch points, suggesting Clstn-1 is particularly important for organizing MT polarity at these locations. Together, our results suggest that Clstn-1, in addition to regulating kinesin-mediated cargo transport, also organizes the underlying MT highway during axon arbor development.
Project description:Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS). The purpose of the study was to examine the association between the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met genotype and structural and functional optic nerve damage in the eyes of NMOSD patients. A total of 17 NMOSD subjects (34 eyes) were included in the study and were divided into subgroups based on optic neuritis (ON) history and BDNF Val66Met polymorphisms. The mean (range) age was 47.8 (23-78) years, and the mean (SD) disease duration was 7.4 (2-39) years. All participants had undergone optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans for global retinal nerve fiber layer (gRNFL) and ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) thickness and multifocal visual evoked potential (mfVEP) test for amplitude and latency. BDNF Val66Met polymorphisms were genotyped in all participants. OCT and mfVEP changes were compared between two genotype groups (Met carriers vs. Val homozygotes) by using the generalised estimating equation (GEE) models. The BDNF Val66Met polymorphism was significantly associated with more severe nerve fiber layer damage and axonal loss in ON eyes of NMOSD subjects. Met carriers had more significantly reduced GCIPL (P = 0.002) and gRNFL (P < 0.001) thickness as well as more delayed mfVEP latency (P = 0.008) in ON eyes. No association was found between Val66Met variants and non-ON (NON)-eye of the participants. These findings suggest that the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism may be associated with optic nerve damage caused by acute ON attacks in NMOSD patients.
Project description:Stroke leads to long term sensory, motor and cognitive impairments. Most patients experience some degree of spontaneous recovery which is mostly incomplete and varying greatly among individuals. The variation in recovery outcomes has been attributed to numerous factors including lesion size, corticospinal tract integrity, age, gender and race. It is well accepted that genetics play a crucial role in stroke incidence and accumulating evidence suggests that it is also a significant determinant in recovery. Among the number of genes and variations implicated in stroke recovery the val66met single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the BDNF gene influences post-stroke plasticity in the most significant ways. Val66met is the most well characterized BDNF SNP and is common (40-50 % in Asian and 25-32% in Caucasian populations) in humans. It reduces activity-dependent BDNF release, dampens cortical plasticity and is implicated in numerous diseases. Earlier studies on the effects of val66met on stroke outcome and recovery presented primarily a maladaptive role. Novel findings however indicate a much more intricate interaction between val66met and stroke recovery which appears to be influenced by lesion location, post-stroke stage and age. This review will focus on the role of BDNF and val66met SNP in relation to stroke recovery and try to identify potential pathophysiologic mechanisms involved. The effects of age on val66met associated alterations in plasticity and potential consequences in terms of stroke are also discussed.
Project description:The refinement of neural circuits during development depends on a dynamic process of branching of axons and dendrites that leads to synapse formation and connectivity. The neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is essential for the outgrowth and activity-dependent remodeling of axonal arbors in vivo. However, the mechanisms that translate extracellular signals into the formation of axonal branches are incompletely understood. We found that MAP kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP-1) controls axon branching. MKP-1 expression induced by BDNF signaling caused spatiotemporal deactivation of c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), which reduced the phosphorylation of JNK substrates that destabilize microtubules. Indeed, neurons from mkp-1 null mice could not produce axon branches in response to BDNF. Our results identify a signaling mechanism that regulates axonal branching and provide a framework for studying the molecular mechanisms of innervation and axonal remodeling under normal and pathological conditions.
Project description:Primary dysmenorrhea (PDM), the most prevalent menstrual cycle-related problem in women of reproductive age, is associated with negative moods. Whether the menstrual pain and negative moods have a genetic basis remains unknown. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a key role in the production of central sensitization and contributes to chronic pain conditions. BDNF has also been implicated in stress-related mood disorders. We screened and genotyped the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism (rs6265) in 99 Taiwanese (Asian) PDMs (20-30 years old) and 101 age-matched healthy female controls. We found that there was a significantly higher frequency of the Met allele of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism in the PDM group. Furthermore, BDNF Met/Met homozygosity had a significantly stronger association with PDM compared with Val carrier status. Subsequent behavioral/hormonal assessments of sub-groups (PDMs = 78, controls = 81; eligible for longitudinal multimodal neuroimaging battery studies) revealed that the BDNF Met/Met homozygous PDMs exhibited a higher menstrual pain score (sensory dimension) and a more anxious mood than the Val carrier PDMs during the menstrual phase. Although preliminary, our study suggests that the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism is associated with PDM in Taiwanese (Asian) people, and BDNF Met/Met homozygosity may be associated with an increased risk of PDM. Our data also suggest the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism as a possible regulator of menstrual pain and pain-related emotions in PDM. Absence of thermal hypersensitivity may connote an ethnic attribution. The presentation of our findings calls for further genetic and neuroscientific investigations of PDM.
Project description:Developmental axon remodeling is characterized by the selective removal of branches from axon arbors. The mechanisms that underlie such branch loss are largely unknown. Additionally, how neuronal resources are specifically assigned to the branches of remodeling arbors is not understood. Here we show that axon branch loss at the developing mouse neuromuscular junction is mediated by branch-specific microtubule severing, which results in local disassembly of the microtubule cytoskeleton and loss of axonal transport in branches that will subsequently dismantle. Accordingly, pharmacological microtubule stabilization delays neuromuscular synapse elimination. This branch-specific disassembly of the cytoskeleton appears to be mediated by the microtubule-severing enzyme spastin, which is dysfunctional in some forms of upper motor neuron disease. Our results demonstrate a physiological role for a neurodegeneration-associated modulator of the cytoskeleton, reveal unexpected cell biology of branch-specific axon plasticity and underscore the mechanistic similarities of axon loss in development and disease.
Project description:Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in neuroplasticity and promotes axonal growth, but its secretion, regulated by a BDNF gene, declines with age. The low-activity (met) allele of common polymorphism BDNF val66met is associated with reduced production of BDNF. We examined whether age-related reduction in the integrity of cerebral white matter (WM) depends on the BDNF val66met genotype. Forty-one middle-aged and older adults participated in the study. Regional WM integrity was assessed by fractional anisotropy (FA) computed from manually drawn regions of interest in the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum on diffusion tensor imaging scans. After controlling for effects of sex and hypertension, we found that only the BDNF 66met carriers displayed age-related declines in the splenium FA, whereas no age-related declines were shown by BDNF val homozygotes. No genotype-related differences were observed in the genu of the corpus callosum. This finding is consistent with a view that genetic risk for reduced BDNF affects posterior regions that otherwise are considered relatively insensitive to normal aging. Those individuals with a genetic predisposition for decreased BDNF expression may not be able to fully benefit from BDNF-based plasticity and repair mechanisms.