Critical role of promoter IV-driven BDNF transcription in GABAergic transmission and synaptic plasticity in the prefrontal cortex.
ABSTRACT: Transcription of Bdnf is controlled by multiple promoters, which drive expression of multiple transcripts encoding for the same protein. Promoter IV contributes significantly to activity-dependent brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) transcription. We have generated promoter IV mutant mice (BDNF-KIV) by inserting a GFP-STOP cassette within the Bdnf exon IV locus. This genetic manipulation results in disruption of promoter IV-mediated Bdnf expression. BDNF-KIV animals exhibited significant deficits in GABAergic interneurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), particularly those expressing parvalbumin, a subtype implicated in executive function and schizophrenia. Moreover, disruption of promoter IV-driven Bdnf transcription impaired inhibitory but not excitatory synaptic transmission recorded from layer V pyramidal neurons in the PFC. The attenuation of GABAergic inputs resulted in an aberrant appearance of spike-timing-dependent synaptic potentiation (STDP) in PFC slices derived from BDNF-KIV, but not wild-type littermates. These results demonstrate the importance of promoter IV-dependent Bdnf transcription in GABAergic function and reveal an unexpected regulation of STDP in the PFC by BDNF.
Project description:Activity-dependent gene transcription, including that of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) gene, has been implicated in various cognitive functions. We previously demonstrated that mutant mice with selective disruption of activity-dependent BDNF expression (BDNF-KIV mice) exhibit deficits in GABA-mediated inhibition in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Here, we show that disruption of activity-dependent BDNF expression impairs BDNF-dependent late-phase long-term potentiation (L-LTP) in CA1, a site of hippocampal output to the PFC. Interestingly, early-phase LTP and conventional L-LTP induced by strong tetanic stimulation were completely normal in BDNF-KIV mice. In parallel, attenuation of activity-dependent BDNF expression significantly impairs spatial memory reversal and contextual memory extinction, two executive functions that require intact hippocampal-PFC circuitry. In contrast, spatial and contextual memory per se were not affected. Thus, activity-dependent BDNF expression in the hippocampus and PFC may contribute to cognitive and behavioral flexibility. These results suggest distinct roles for different forms of L-LTP and provide a link between activity-dependent BDNF expression and behavioral perseverance, a hallmark of several psychiatric disorders.
Project description:Enriched environment treatment (EET) is a potential intervention for depression by inducing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). However, its age dependency remains unclear. We recently found that EET during early-life development (ED) was effective in increasing exploratory activity and anti-despair behavior, particularly in promoter IV-driven BDNF deficient mice (KIV), with the largest BDNF protein induction in the hippocampus and frontal cortex. Here, we further determined age dependency of EET effects on anhedonia and promoter-specific BDNF transcription, by using the sucrose preference test and qRT-PCR. Wild-type (WT) and KIV mice received 2 months of EET during ED, young-adulthood and old-adulthood (0-2, 2-4 and 12-14?months, respectively). All KIV groups showed reduced sucrose preference, which EET equally reversed regardless of age. EET increased hippocampal BDNF mRNA levels for all ages and genotypes, but increased frontal cortex BDNF mRNA levels only in ED KIV and old WT mice. Transcription by promoters I and IV was age-dependent in the hippocampus of WT mice: more effective induction of exon IV or I during ED or old-adulthood, respectively. Transcription by almost all 9 promoters was age-specific in the frontal cortex, mostly observed in ED KIV mice. After discontinuance of EET, the EET effects on anti-anhedonia and BDNF transcription in both regions persisted only in ED KIV mice. These results suggested that EET was equally effective in reversing anhedonia and inducing hippocampal BDNF transcription, but was more effective during ED in inducing frontal cortex BDNF transcription and for lasting anti-anhedonic and BDNF effects particularly in promoter IV-BDNF deficiency.
Project description:Promoter IV-driven expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a major neuronal growth factor, is implicated in the pathophysiology of major depression. We previously reported that mice lacking expression of BDNF through promoter IV (BDNF-KIV mice) exhibit a depression-like phenotype. Here, we examined whether the depression-like phenotype and decreased levels of BDNF because of promoter IV deficit could be rescued by enriched environment (EE) treatment, a potential antidepressant intervention. Three weeks of EE treatment rescued depression-like behavior of BDNF-KIV mice as assessed by the tail suspension test, open-field test and sucrose preference test. EE treatment also increased BDNF transcripts driven by multiple endogenous promoters and restored BDNF protein levels in the hippocampus (HIP) of BDNF-KIV mice. Further, we investigated adult hippocampal neurogenesis as a possible cellular mechanism underlying the depression-like behavior and its recovery in BDNF-KIV mice. We found that the number of surviving progenitors and their dendritic length in the dentate gyrus of the HIP were reduced in BDNF-KIV mice compared with the control wild-type mice. EE treatment restored the reduction in cell survival and dendritic length and increased cell proliferation in BDNF-KIV mice. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that EE rescued depression-like behavior, decreased BDNF levels and defective neurogenesis in the HIP caused by lack of promoter IV-driven BDNF expression. These results suggest that decreased BDNF levels because of one impaired promoter can be compensated by other BDNF promoters and that BDNF levels may be one of the key factors regulating depression and antidepressant effects through hippocampal neurogenesis.
Project description:Reduced promoter IV-driven expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is implicated in stress and major depression. We previously reported that defective promoter IV (KIV) caused depression-like behavior in young adult mice, which was reversed more effectively by enriched environment treatment (EET) than antidepressants. The effects of promoter IV-BDNF deficiency and EET over the life stages remain unknown. Since early-life development (ED) involves dynamic epigenetic processes, we hypothesized that EET during ED would provide maximum antidepressive effects that would persist later in life due to enhanced, long-lasting BDNF induction. We tested this hypothesis by determining EET effects across three life stages: ED (0-2 months), young adult (2-4 months), and old adult (12-14 months). KIV mice at all life stages showed depression-like behavior in the open-field and tail-suspension tests compared with wild-type mice. Two months of EET reduced depression-like behavior in ED and young adult, but not old adult mice, with the largest effect in ED KIV mice. This effect lasted for 1 month after discontinuance of EET only in ED mice. BDNF protein induction by EET in the hippocampus and frontal cortex was also the largest in ED mice and persisted only in the hippocampus of ED KIV mice after discontinuance of EET. No gender-specific effects were observed. The results suggest that defective promoter IV causes depression-like behavior, regardless of age and gender, and that EET during ED is particularly beneficial to individuals with promoter IV-BDNF deficiency, while additional treatment may be needed for older adults.
Project description:Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) promotes maturation of cholinergic neurons. However, how activity-dependent BDNF expression affects specific cholinergic gene expression remains unclear. This study addressed this question by determining mRNA levels of 22 acetylcholine receptor subunits, the choline transporter (CHT), and the choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) in mice deficient in activity-dependent BDNF via promoter IV (KIV) and control wild-type mice. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed significant reductions in nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha 5 (CHRNA5) in the frontal cortex and hippocampus and M5 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (CHRM5) in the hippocampus, but significant increases in M2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (CHRM2) in the frontal cortex of KIV mice compared to wild-type mice. Three-week treatments with fluoxetine, phenelzine, duloxetine, imipramine, or an enriched environment treatment (EET) did not affect the altered expression of these genes except that EET increased CHRNA5 levels only in KIV frontal cortex. EET also increased levels of CHRNA7, CHT, and ChAT, again only in the KIV frontal cortex. The imipramine treatment was most prominent among the four antidepressants; it up-regulated hippocampal CHRM2 and frontal cortex CHRM5 in both genotypes, and frontal cortex CHRNA7 only in KIV mice. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first evidence that BDNF deficiency disturbs expression of CHRNA5, CHRM2, and CHRM5. Our results suggest that promoter IV-BDNF deficiency - which occurs under chronic stress - causes cholinergic dysfunctions via these receptors. EET is effective on CHRNA5, while its compensatory induction of other cholinergic genes or drugs targeting CHRNA5, CHRM2, and CHRM5 may become an alternative strategy to reverse these BDNF-linked cholinergic dysfunctions.
Project description:Mechanisms underlying experience-dependent refinement of cortical connections, especially GABAergic inhibitory circuits, are unknown. By using a line of mutant mice that lack activity-dependent BDNF expression (bdnf-KIV), we show that experience regulation of cortical GABAergic network is mediated by activity-driven BDNF expression. Levels of endogenous BDNF protein in the barrel cortex are strongly regulated by sensory inputs from whiskers. There is a severe alteration of excitation and inhibition balance in the barrel cortex of bdnf-KIV mice as a result of reduced inhibitory but not excitatory conductance. Within the inhibitory circuits, the mutant barrel cortex exhibits significantly reduced levels of GABA release only from the parvalbumin-expressing fast-spiking (FS) interneurons, but not other interneuron subtypes. Postnatal deprivation of sensory inputs markedly decreased perisomatic inhibition selectively from FS cells in wild-type but not bdnf-KIV mice. These results suggest that postnatal experience, through activity-driven BDNF expression, controls cortical development by regulating FS cell-mediated perisomatic inhibition in vivo.
Project description:Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) regulates diverse biological functions ranging from neuronal survival and differentiation during development to synaptic plasticity and cognitive behavior in the adult. BDNF disruption in both rodents and humans is associated with neurobehavioral alterations and psychiatric disorders. A unique feature of Bdnf transcription is regulation by nine individual promoters, which drive expression of variants that encode an identical protein. It is hypothesized that this unique genomic structure may provide flexibility that allows different factors to regulate BDNF signaling in distinct cell types and circuits. This has led to the suggestion that isoforms may regulate specific BDNF-dependent functions; however, little scientific support for this idea exists. We generated four novel mutant mouse lines in which BDNF production from one of the four major promoters (I, II, IV, or VI) is selectively disrupted (Bdnf-e1, -e2, -e4, and -e6 mice) and used a comprehensive comparator approach to determine whether different Bdnf transcripts are associated with specific BDNF-dependent molecular, cellular, and behavioral phenotypes. Bdnf-e1 and -e2 mutant males displayed heightened aggression accompanied by convergent expression changes in specific genes associated with serotonin signaling. In contrast, BDNF-e4 and -e6 mutants were not aggressive but displayed impairments associated with GABAergic gene expression. Moreover, quantifications of BDNF protein in the hypothalamus, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus revealed that individual Bdnf transcripts make differential, region-specific contributions to total BDNF levels. The results highlight the biological significance of alternative Bdnf transcripts and provide evidence that individual isoforms serve distinct molecular and behavioral functions.
Project description:Scaffolding proteins are major contributors to the spatial and temporal orchestration of signaling cascades and hence cellular functions. RACK1 is a scaffolding protein that plays an important role in the regulation of, and cross-talk between, various signaling pathways. Here we report that RACK1 is a mediator of chromatin remodeling, resulting in an exon-specific expression of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene. Specifically, we found that following the activation of the cAMP pathway, nuclear RACK1 localizes at the promoter IV region of the BDNF gene by its association with histones H3 and H4, leading to the dissociation of the transcription repressor methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) from the promoter, resulting in the acetylation of histone H4. These chromatin modifications lead to the activation of the promoter and to the subsequent promoter-controlled transcription of BDNF exon IV. Our findings expand our knowledge regarding the function of scaffolding proteins such as RACK1. Furthermore, this novel mechanism for the regulation of exon-specific expression of the BDNF gene by RACK1 could have implications on the neuronal functions of the growth factor including synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory.
Project description:Across the mammalian nervous system, neurotrophins control synaptic plasticity, neuromodulation, and neuronal growth. The neurotrophin Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is known to promote structural and functional synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, the cerebral cortex, and many other brain areas. In recent years, a wealth of data has been accumulated revealing the paramount importance of BDNF for neuronal function. BDNF signaling gives rise to multiple complex signaling pathways that mediate neuronal survival and differentiation during development, and formation of new memories. These different roles of BDNF for neuronal function have essential consequences if BDNF signaling in the brain is reduced. Thus, BDNF knock-out mice or mice that are deficient in BDNF receptor signaling via TrkB and p75 receptors show deficits in neuronal development, synaptic plasticity, and memory formation. Accordingly, BDNF signaling dysfunctions are associated with many neurological and neurodegenerative conditions including Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease. However, despite the widespread implications of BDNF-dependent signaling in synaptic plasticity in healthy and pathological conditions, the interplay of the involved different biochemical pathways at the synaptic level remained mostly unknown. In this paper, we investigated the role of BDNF/TrkB signaling in spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP) in rodent hippocampus CA1 pyramidal cells, by implementing the first subcellular model of BDNF regulated, spike timing-dependent long-term potentiation (t-LTP). The model is based on previously published experimental findings on STDP and accounts for the observed magnitude, time course, stimulation pattern and BDNF-dependence of t-LTP. It allows interpreting the main experimental findings concerning specific biomolecular processes, and it can be expanded to take into account more detailed biochemical reactions. The results point out a few predictions on how to enhance LTP induction in such a way to rescue or improve cognitive functions under pathological conditions.
Project description:The reelin gene is a strong candidate in the etiology of several psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. Most of these diseases are accompanied by cognitive and executive-function deficits associated with prefrontal dysfunctions. Mammalian prefrontal cortex (PFC) development is characterized by a protracted postnatal maturation constituting a period of enhanced vulnerability to psychiatric insults. The identification of the molecular components underlying this prolonged postnatal development is necessary to understand the synaptic properties of defective circuits participating in these psychiatric disorders. We have recently shown that reelin plays a key role in the maturation of glutamatergic functions in the postnatal PFC, but no data are available regarding the GABAergic circuits. Here, we undertook a cross-sectional analysis of GABAergic function in deep layer pyramidal neurons of the medial PFC of wild-type and haploinsufficient heterozygous reeler mice. Using electrophysiological approaches, we showed that decreased reelin levels impair the maturation of GABAergic synaptic transmission without affecting the inhibitory nature of GABA. This phenotype consequently impacted the developmental sequence of the synaptic excitation/inhibition (E/I) balance. These data indicate that reelin is necessary for the correct maturation and refinement of GABAergic synaptic circuits in the postnatal PFC and therefore provide a mechanism for altered E/I balance of prefrontal circuits associated with psychiatric disorders.