Gigaxonin mutation analysis in patients with NIFID.
ABSTRACT: Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID) is a frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) characterized by frontotemporal dementia (FTD), pyramidal and extrapyramidal signs. The disease is histologically characterized by the presence of abnormal neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCIs) which contain ?-internexin and other neuronal intermediate filament (IF) proteins. Gigaxonin (GAN) is a cytoskeletal regulating protein and the genetic cause of giant axonal neuropathy. Since the immunoreactive profile of NCIs in NIFID is similar to that observed in brain sections from Gan(?ex1/?ex1) mice, we speculated that GAN could be a candidate gene causing NIFID. Therefore, we performed a mutation analysis of GAN in NIFID patients. Although the NCIs of NIFID and Gan(?ex1/?ex1) mice were immunohistochemically similar, no GAN variant was identified in DNA obtained from well-characterized cases of NIFID.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Giant Axonal Neuropathy (GAN) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder with early onset characterized by a severe deterioration of the peripheral and central nervous system, involving both the motor and the sensory tracts and leading to ataxia, speech defect and intellectual disabilities. The broad deterioration of the nervous system is accompanied by a generalized disorganization of the intermediate filaments, including neurofilaments in neurons, but the implication of this defect in disease onset or progression remains unknown. The identification of gigaxonin, the substrate adaptor of an E3 ubiquitin ligase, as the defective protein in GAN allows us to now investigate the crucial role of the gigaxonin-E3 ligase in sustaining neuronal and intermediate filament integrity. To study the mechanisms controlled by gigaxonin in these processes and to provide a relevant model to test the therapeutic approaches under development for GAN, we generated a Gigaxonin-null mouse by gene targeting. RESULTS: We investigated for the first time in Gigaxonin-null mice the deterioration of the motor and sensory functions over time as well as the spatial disorganization of neurofilaments. We showed that gigaxonin depletion in mice induces mild but persistent motor deficits starting at 60 weeks of age in the 129/SvJ-genetic background, while sensory deficits were demonstrated in C57BL/6 animals. In our hands, another gigaxonin-null mouse did not display the early and severe motor deficits reported previously. No apparent neurodegeneration was observed in our knock-out mice, but dysregulation of neurofilaments in proximal and distal axons was massive. Indeed, neurofilaments were not only more abundant but they also showed the abnormal increase in diameter and misorientation that are characteristics of the human pathology. CONCLUSIONS: Together, our results show that gigaxonin depletion in mice induces mild motor and sensory deficits but recapitulates the severe neurofilament dysregulation seen in patients. Our model will allow investigation of the role of the gigaxonin-E3 ligase in organizing neurofilaments and may prove useful in understanding the pathological processes engaged in other neurodegenerative disorders characterized by accumulation of neurofilaments and dysfunction of the Ubiquitin Proteasome System, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
Project description:Gigaxonin (also known as KLHL16) is an E3 ligase adaptor protein that promotes the ubiquitination and degradation of intermediate filament (IF) proteins. Mutations in human gigaxonin cause the fatal neurodegenerative disease giant axonal neuropathy (GAN), in which IF proteins accumulate and aggregate in axons throughout the nervous system, impairing neuronal function and viability. Despite this pathophysiological significance, the upstream regulation and downstream effects of normal and aberrant gigaxonin function remain incompletely understood. Here, we report that gigaxonin is modified by <italic>O</italic>-linked ?-<italic>N</italic>-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc), a prevalent form of intracellular glycosylation, in a nutrient- and growth factor–dependent manner. MS analyses of human gigaxonin revealed 9 candidate sites of O-GlcNAcylation, 2 of which — serine 272 and threonine 277 — are required for its ability to mediate IF turnover in gigaxonin-deficient human cell models that we created. Taken together, the results suggest that nutrient-responsive gigaxonin O-GlcNAcylation forms a regulatory link between metabolism and IF proteostasis. Our work may have significant implications for understanding the nongenetic modifiers of GAN phenotypes and for the optimization of gene therapy for this disease.
Project description:The BTB-KELCH protein Gigaxonin plays key roles in sustaining neuron survival and cytoskeleton architecture. Indeed, recessive mutations in the Gigaxonin-encoding gene cause Giant Axonal Neuropathy (GAN), a severe neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a wide disorganization of the Intermediate Filament network. Growing evidences suggest that GAN is a continuum with the peripheral neuropathy Charcot-Marie-Tooth diseases type 2 (CMT2). Sharing similar sensory-motor alterations and aggregation of Neurofilaments, few reports have revealed that GAN and some CMT2 forms can be misdiagnosed on clinical and histopathological examination. The goal of this study is to propose a new differential diagnostic test for GAN/CMT2. Moreover, we aim at identifying the mechanisms causing the loss-of-function of Gigaxonin, which has been proposed to bind CUL3 and substrates as part of an E3 ligase complex.We establish that determining Gigaxonin level constitutes a very valuable diagnostic test in discriminating new GAN cases from clinically related inherited neuropathies. Indeed, in a set of seven new families presenting a neuropathy resembling GAN/CMT2, only five exhibiting a reduced Gigaxonin abundance have been subsequently genetically linked to GAN. Generating the homology modeling of Gigaxonin, we suggest that disease mutations would lead to a range of defects in Gigaxonin stability, impairing its homodimerization, BTB or KELCH domain folding, or CUL3 and substrate binding. We further demonstrate that regardless of the mutations or the severity of the disease, Gigaxonin abundance is severely reduced in all GAN patients due to both mRNA and protein instability mechanisms.In this study, we developed a new penetrant and specific test to diagnose GAN among a set of individuals exhibiting CMT2 of unknown etiology to suggest that the prevalence of GAN is probably under-evaluated among peripheral neuropathies. We propose to use this new test in concert with the clinical examination and prior to the systematic screening of GAN mutations that has shown strong limitations for large deletions. Combining the generation of the structural modeling of Gigaxonin to an analysis of Gigaxonin transcripts and proteins in patients, we provide the first evidences of the instability of this E3 ligase adaptor in disease.
Project description:Gigaxonin mutations cause the fatal human neurodegenerative disorder giant axonal neuropathy (GAN). Broad deterioration of the nervous system in GAN patients is accompanied by massive disorganization of intermediate filaments (IFs) both in neurons and many non-neuronal cells. With newly developed antibodies, gigaxonin is now shown to be expressed at extremely low levels throughout the nervous system. In lymphoblast cell lines derived from severe and mild forms of GAN, mutations in gigaxonin are shown to yield highly unstable proteins, thereby permitting a rapid diagnostic test for the spectrum of GAN mutations as an alternative to invasive nerve biopsy or systematic sequencing of the GAN gene. Gigaxonin has been proposed as a substrate adaptor for an E3 ubiquitin ligase, which affects proteasome-dependent degradation of microtubule-related proteins including MAP1B, MAP8 and the tubulin folding chaperone TBCB. We demonstrate that, unlike its counterpart TBCE, TBCB only moderately destabilizes microtubules. Neither TBCB abundance nor microtubule organization or densities are altered in GAN mutant fibroblasts, thus demonstrating that altered TBCB levels are not primary determinants of IF disorganization in GAN. Characteristic GAN mutant-induced ovoid aggregates of vimentin are not produced in normal fibroblasts after disrupting microtubule assembly, either by TBCE overexpression or depolymerizing drugs. Thus, IF disorganization in GAN fibroblasts is independent of TBCB and microtubule loss and must be regulated by a yet unidentified mechanism.
Project description:Alexander disease (AxD) is a primary genetic disorder of astrocytes caused by dominant mutations in the gene encoding the intermediate filament (IF) protein GFAP. This disease is characterized by excessive accumulation of GFAP, known as Rosenthal fibers, within astrocytes. Abnormal GFAP aggregation also occurs in giant axon neuropathy (GAN), which is caused by recessive mutations in the gene encoding gigaxonin. Given that one of the functions of gigaxonin is to facilitate proteasomal degradation of several IF proteins, we sought to determine whether gigaxonin is involved in the degradation of GFAP. Using a lentiviral transduction system, we demonstrated that gigaxonin levels influence the degradation of GFAP in primary astrocytes and in cell lines that express this IF protein. Gigaxonin was similarly involved in the degradation of some but not all AxD-associated GFAP mutants. In addition, gigaxonin directly bound to GFAP, and inhibition of proteasome reversed the clearance of GFAP in cells achieved by overexpressing gigaxonin. These studies identify gigaxonin as an important factor that targets GFAP for degradation through the proteasome pathway. Our findings provide a critical foundation for future studies aimed at reducing or reversing pathological accumulation of GFAP as a potential therapeutic strategy for AxD and related diseases.
Project description:Giant axonal neuropathy (GAN) is an early-onset neurological disorder caused by mutations in the GAN gene (encoding for gigaxonin), which is predicted to be an E3 ligase adaptor. In GAN, aggregates of intermediate filaments (IFs) represent the main pathological feature detected in neurons and other cell types, including patients' dermal fibroblasts. The molecular mechanism by which these mutations cause IFs to aggregate is unknown. Using fibroblasts from patients and normal individuals, as well as Gan-/- mice, we demonstrated that gigaxonin was responsible for the degradation of vimentin IFs. Gigaxonin was similarly involved in the degradation of peripherin and neurofilament IF proteins in neurons. Furthermore, proteasome inhibition by MG-132 reversed the clearance of IF proteins in cells overexpressing gigaxonin, demonstrating the involvement of the proteasomal degradation pathway. Together, these findings identify gigaxonin as a major factor in the degradation of cytoskeletal IFs and provide an explanation for IF aggregate accumulation, the subcellular hallmark of this devastating human disease.
Project description:Growing evidence shows that alterations occurring at early developmental stages contribute to symptoms manifested in adulthood in the setting of neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we studied the molecular mechanisms causing giant axonal neuropathy (GAN), a severe neurodegenerative disease due to loss-of-function of the gigaxonin-E3 ligase. We showed that gigaxonin governs Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) induction, the developmental pathway patterning the dorso-ventral axis of the neural tube and muscles, by controlling the degradation of the Shh-bound Patched receptor. Similar to Shh inhibition, repression of gigaxonin in zebrafish impaired motor neuron specification and somitogenesis and abolished neuromuscular junction formation and locomotion. Shh signaling was impaired in gigaxonin-null zebrafish and was corrected by both pharmacological activation of the Shh pathway and human gigaxonin, pointing to an evolutionary-conserved mechanism regulating Shh signaling. Gigaxonin-dependent inhibition of Shh activation was also demonstrated in primary fibroblasts from patients with GAN and in a Shh activity reporter line depleted in gigaxonin. Our findings establish gigaxonin as a key E3 ligase that positively controls the initiation of Shh transduction, and reveal the causal role of Shh dysfunction in motor deficits, thus highlighting the developmental origin of GAN.
Project description:Giant axonal neuropathy (GAN) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by autosomal recessive mutations in the GAN gene resulting in a loss of a ubiquitously expressed protein, gigaxonin. Gene replacement therapy is a promising strategy for treatment of the disease; however, the effectiveness and safety of gigaxonin reintroduction have not been tested in human GAN nerve cells. Here we report the derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from three GAN patients with different GAN mutations. Motor neurons differentiated from GAN iPSCs exhibit accumulation of neurofilament (NF-L) and peripherin (PRPH) protein and formation of PRPH aggregates, the key pathological phenotypes observed in patients. Introduction of gigaxonin either using a lentiviral vector or as a stable transgene resulted in normalization of NEFL and PRPH levels in GAN neurons and disappearance of PRPH aggregates. Importantly, overexpression of gigaxonin had no adverse effect on survival of GAN neurons, supporting the feasibility of gene replacement therapy. Our findings demonstrate that GAN iPSCs provide a novel model for studying human GAN neuropathologies and for the development and testing of new therapies in relevant cell types.
Project description:Giant axonal neuropathy (GAN)(1) is a rare autosomal recessive neurological disorder caused by mutations in the GAN gene that encodes gigaxonin, a member of the BTB/Kelch family of E3 ligase adaptor proteins.(1) This disease is characterized by the aggregation of Intermediate Filaments (IF)-cytoskeletal elements that play important roles in cell physiology including the regulation of cell shape, motility, mechanics and intra-cellular signaling. Although a range of cell types are affected in GAN, neurons display the most severe pathology, with neuronal intermediate filament accumulation and aggregation; this in turn causes axonal swellings or "giant axons." A mechanistic understanding of GAN IF pathology has eluded researchers for many years. In a recent study(1) we demonstrate that the normal function of gigaxonin is to regulate the degradation of IF proteins via the proteasome. Our findings present the first direct link between GAN mutations and IF pathology; moreover, given the importance of IF aggregations in a wide range of disease conditions, our findings could have wider ramifications.
Project description:Mutations in the gigaxonin gene are responsible for giant axonal neuropathy (GAN), a progressive neurodegenerative disorder associated with abnormal accumulations of Intermediate Filaments (IFs). Gigaxonin is the substrate-specific adaptor for a new Cul3-E3-ubiquitin ligase family that promotes the proteasome dependent degradation of its partners MAP1B, MAP8 and tubulin cofactor B. Here, we report the generation of a mouse model with targeted deletion of Gan exon 1 (Gan(Deltaexon1;Deltaexon1)). Analyses of the Gan(Deltaexon1;Deltaexon1) mice revealed increased levels of various IFs proteins in the nervous system and the presence of IFs inclusion bodies in the brain. Despite deficiency of full length gigaxonin, the Gan(Deltaexon1;Deltaexon1) mice do not develop overt neurological phenotypes and giant axons reminiscent of the human GAN disease. Nonetheless, at 6 months of age the Gan(Deltaexon1;Deltaexon1) mice exhibit a modest hind limb muscle atrophy, a 10% decrease of muscle innervation and a 27% axonal loss in the L5 ventral roots. This new mouse model should provide a useful tool to test potential therapeutic approaches for GAN disease.