Epigenetic suppression of GAD65 expression mediates persistent pain.
ABSTRACT: Chronic pain is a common neurological disease involving lasting, multifaceted maladaptations ranging from gene modulation to synaptic dysfunction and emotional disorders. Sustained pathological stimuli in many diseases alter the output activities of certain genes through epigenetic modifications, but it is unclear how epigenetic mechanisms operate in the development of chronic pain. We show here that in the rat brainstem nucleus raphe magnus, which is important for central mechanisms of chronic pain, persistent inflammatory and neuropathic pain epigenetically suppresses Gad2 (encoding glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 (GAD65)) transcription through histone deacetylase (HDAC)-mediated histone hypoacetylation, resulting in impaired ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA) synaptic inhibition. Gad2 knockout mice showed sensitized pain behavior and impaired GABA synaptic function in their brainstem neurons. In wild-type but not Gad2 knockout mice, HDAC inhibitors strongly increased GAD65 activity, restored GABA synaptic function and relieved sensitized pain behavior. These findings suggest GAD65 and HDACs as potential therapeutic targets in an epigenetic approach to the treatment of chronic pain.
Project description:Maternal infection during pregnancy increases the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in the offspring. In addition to its influence on other neuronal systems, this early-life environmental adversity has been shown to negatively affect cortical ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA) functions in adult life, including impaired prefrontal expression of enzymes required for GABA synthesis. The underlying molecular processes, however, remain largely unknown. In the present study, we explored whether epigenetic modifications represent a mechanism whereby maternal infection during pregnancy can induce such GABAergic impairments in the offspring. We used an established mouse model of prenatal immune challenge that is based on maternal treatment with the viral mimetic poly(I:C). We found that prenatal immune activation increased prefrontal levels of 5-methylated cytosines (5mC) and 5-hydroxymethylated cytosines (5hmC) in the promoter region of GAD1, which encodes the 67-kDa isoform of the GABA-synthesising enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67). The early-life challenge also increased 5mC levels at the promoter region of GAD2, which encodes the 65-kDa GAD isoform (GAD65). These effects were accompanied by elevated GAD1 and GAD2 promoter binding of methyl CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) and by reduced GAD67 and GAD65 mRNA expression. Moreover, the epigenetic modifications at the GAD1 promoter correlated with prenatal infection-induced impairments in working memory and social interaction. Our study thus highlights that hypermethylation of GAD1 and GAD2 promoters may be an important molecular mechanism linking prenatal infection to presynaptic GABAergic impairments and associated behavioral and cognitive abnormalities in the offspring.
Project description:Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a widely conserved signaling molecule that in animals has been adapted as a neurotransmitter. GABA is synthesized from the amino acid glutamate by the action of glutamate decarboxylases (GADs). Two vertebrate genes, GAD1 and GAD2, encode distinct GAD proteins: GAD67 and GAD65, respectively. We have identified a third vertebrate GAD gene, GAD3. This gene is conserved in fishes as well as tetrapods. We analyzed protein sequence, gene structure, synteny, and phylogenetics to identify GAD3 as a homolog of GAD1 and GAD2. Interestingly, we found that GAD3 was lost in the hominid lineage. Because of the importance of GABA as a neurotransmitter, GAD3 may play important roles in vertebrate nervous systems.
Project description:An imbalance of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system is considered a major neurobiological pathomechanism of anxiety, and the amygdala is a key brain region involved. Reduced GABA levels have been found in anxiety patients, and genetic variations of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the rate-limiting enzyme of GABA synthesis, have been associated with anxiety phenotypes in both humans and mice. These findings prompted us to hypothesize that a deficiency of GAD65, the GAD isoform controlling the availability of GABA as a transmitter, affects synaptic transmission and plasticity in the lateral amygdala (LA), and thereby interferes with fear responsiveness. Results indicate that genetically determined GAD65 deficiency in mice is associated with (1) increased synaptic length and release at GABAergic connections, (2) impaired efficacy of GABAergic synaptic transmission and plasticity, and (3) reduced spillover of GABA to presynaptic GABAB receptors, resulting in a loss of the associative nature of long-term synaptic plasticity at cortical inputs to LA principal neurons. (4) In addition, training with high shock intensities in wild-type mice mimicked the phenotype of GAD65 deficiency at both the behavioral and synaptic level, indicated by generalization of conditioned fear and a loss of the associative nature of synaptic plasticity in the LA. In conclusion, GAD65 is required for efficient GABAergic synaptic transmission and plasticity, and for maintaining extracellular GABA at a level needed for associative plasticity at cortical inputs in the LA, which, if disturbed, results in an impairment of the cue specificity of conditioned fear responses typifying anxiety disorders.
Project description:The postpartum period in mammals undergoes a variety of physiological adaptations, including metabolic, behavioral and neuroendocrine alterations. GABA signaling has been strongly linked to various emotional states, stress responses and offspring protection. However, whether GABA signaling may change in the lateral septum (LS), a core brain region for regulating behavioral, emotional and stress responses in postpartum mice has not previously been examined. In this study, we tested whether the expression of two isoforms of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), GAD65 (GAD2) and GAD67 (GAD1), the rate-limiting enzyme for GABA synthesis, exhibits altered expression in postpartum mice relative to nonmaternal, virgin mice. Using microdissected septal tissue from virgin and age-matched postpartum females, quantitative real-time PCR and Western blotting were carried out to assess GAD mRNA and protein expression, respectively. We found both protein and mRNA expression of GAD67 in the whole septum was up-regulated in postpartum mice. By contrast, no significant difference in the whole septum was observed in GAD65 expression. We then conducted a finer level of analysis using smaller microdissections and found GAD67 to be significantly increased in rostral LS, but not in caudal LS or medial septum (MS). Further, GAD65 mRNA expression in rostral LS, but not in caudal LS or MS was also significantly elevated in postpartum mice. These findings suggest that an increased GABA production in rostral LS of the postpartum mice via elevated GAD65 and GAD67 expression may contribute to multiple alterations in behavioral and emotional states, and responses to stress that occur during the postpartum period. Given that rostral LS contains GABA neurons that are projection neurons or local interneurons, it still needs to be determined whether the function of elevated GABA is for local or distant action or both.
Project description:The inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA is synthesized by the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) in neurons and in pancreatic ?-cells in islets of Langerhans where it functions as a paracrine and autocrine signaling molecule regulating the function of islet endocrine cells. The localization of the two non-allelic isoforms GAD65 and GAD67 to vesicular membranes is important for rapid delivery and accumulation of GABA for regulated secretion. While the membrane anchoring and trafficking of GAD65 are mediated by intrinsic hydrophobic modifications, GAD67 remains hydrophilic, and yet is targeted to vesicular membrane pathways and synaptic clusters in neurons by both a GAD65-dependent and a distinct GAD65-independent mechanism. Herein we have investigated the membrane association and targeting of GAD67 and GAD65 in monolayer cultures of primary rat, human, and mouse islets and in insulinoma cells. GAD65 is primarily detected in Golgi membranes and in peripheral vesicles distinct from insulin vesicles in ?-cells. In the absence of GAD65, GAD67 is in contrast primarily cytosolic in ?-cells; its co-expression with GAD65 is necessary for targeting to Golgi membranes and vesicular compartments. Thus, the GAD65-independent mechanism for targeting of GAD67 to synaptic vesicles in neurons is not functional in islet ?-cells. Therefore, only GAD65:GAD65 homodimers and GAD67:GAD65 heterodimers, but not the GAD67:GAD67 homodimer gain access to vesicular compartments in ?-cells to facilitate rapid accumulation of newly synthesized GABA for regulated secretion and fine tuning of GABA-signaling in islets of Langerhans.
Project description:The lateral habenula (LHb) sends complex projections to several areas of the mesopontine tegmentum, the raphe, and the hypothalamus. However, few markers have been available to distinguish subsets of LHb neurons that may serve these pathways. In order to address this complexity, we examined the mouse and rat LHb for neurons that express the GABA biosynthesis enzymes glutamate decarboxylase 1 (GAD1) and GAD2, and the vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT). The mouse LHb contains a population of neurons that express GAD2, while the rat LHb contains discrete populations of neurons that express GAD1 and VGAT. However, we could not detect single neurons in either species that co-express a GABA synthetic enzyme and VGAT, suggesting that these LHb neurons do not use GABA for conventional synaptic transmission. Instead, all of the neuronal types expressing a GABAergic marker in both species showed co-expression of the glutamate transporter VGluT2. Anterograde tract-tracing of the projections of GAD2-expressing LHb neurons in Gad2Cre mice, combined with retrograde tracing from selected downstream nuclei, show that LHb-GAD2 neurons project selectively to the midline structures in the mesopontine tegmentum, including the median raphe (MnR) and nucleus incertus (NI), and only sparsely innervate the hypothalamus, rostromedial tegmental nucleus (RMTg), and ventral tegmental area (VTA). Postsynaptic recording of LHb-GAD2 neuronal input to tegmental neurons confirms that glutamate, not GABA, is the fast neurotransmitter in this circuit. Thus, GAD2 expression can serve as a marker for functional studies of excitatory neurons serving specific LHb output pathways in mice.
Project description:The inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) is synthesized by two isoforms of the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD): GAD65 and GAD67. Whereas GAD67 is constitutively active and produces >90% of GABA in the central nervous system, GAD65 is transiently activated and augments GABA levels for rapid modulation of inhibitory neurotransmission. Hydrophobic lipid modifications of the GAD65 protein target it to Golgi membranes and synaptic vesicles in neuroendocrine cells. In contrast, the GAD67 protein remains hydrophilic but has been shown to acquire membrane association by heterodimerization with GAD65. Here, we identify a second mechanism that mediates robust membrane anchoring, axonal targeting, and presynaptic clustering of GAD67 but that is independent of GAD65. This mechanism is abolished by a leucine-103 to proline mutation that changes the conformation of the N-terminal domain but does not affect the GAD65-dependent membrane anchoring of GAD67. Thus two distinct mechanisms target the constitutively active GAD67 to presynaptic clusters to facilitate accumulation of GABA for rapid delivery into synapses.
Project description:Stiff person syndrome (SPS) is a highly-disabling neurological disorder of the CNS characterized by progressive muscular rigidity and spasms. In approximately 60-80% of patients there are autoantibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the enzyme that synthesizes gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), the predominant inhibitory neurotransmitter of the CNS. Although GAD is intracellular, it is thought that autoimmunity to GAD65 may play a role in the development of SPS. To test this hypothesis, we immunized mice, that expressed enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) under the GAD65 promoter, with either GAD65 (n = 13) or phosphate buffered saline (PBS) (n = 13). Immunization with GAD65 resulted in autoantibodies that immunoprecipitated GAD, bound to CNS tissue in a highly characteristic pattern, and surprisingly bound not only to GAD intracellularly but also to the surface of cerebellar neurons in culture. Moreover, immunization resulted in immunoglobulin diffusion into the brainstem, and a partial loss of GAD-EGFP expressing cells in the brainstem. Although immunization with GAD65 did not produce any behavioral abnormality in the mice, the induction of neuronal-surface antibodies and the trend towards loss of GABAergic neurons in the brainstem, supports a role for humoral autoimmunity in the pathogenesis of SPS and suggests that the mechanisms may involve spread to antigens expressed on the surface of these neurons.
Project description:Homeostatic synaptic plasticity, or synaptic scaling, is a mechanism that tunes neuronal transmission to compensate for prolonged, excessive changes in neuronal activity. Both excitatory and inhibitory neurons undergo homeostatic changes based on synaptic transmission strength, which could effectively contribute to a fine-tuning of circuit activity. However, gene regulation that underlies homeostatic synaptic plasticity in GABAergic (GABA, gamma aminobutyric) neurons is still poorly understood. The present study demonstrated activity-dependent dynamic scaling in which NMDA-R (N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor) activity regulated the expression of GABA synthetic enzymes: glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 and 67 (GAD65 and GAD67). Results revealed that activity-regulated BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) release is necessary, but not sufficient, for activity-dependent up-scaling of these GAD isoforms. Bidirectional forms of activity-dependent GAD expression require both BDNF-dependent and BDNF-independent pathways, both triggered by NMDA-R activity. Additional results indicated that these two GAD genes differ in their responsiveness to chronic changes in neuronal activity, which could be partially caused by differential dependence on BDNF. In parallel to activity-dependent bidirectional scaling in GAD expression, the present study further observed that a chronic change in neuronal activity leads to an alteration in neurotransmitter release from GABAergic neurons in a homeostatic, bidirectional fashion. Therefore, the differential expression of GAD65 and 67 during prolonged changes in neuronal activity may be implicated in some aspects of bidirectional homeostatic plasticity within mature GABAergic presynapses.
Project description:Imbalances in GABA (?-aminobutyric acid) homoeostasis underlie psychiatric and movement disorders. The ability of the 65 kDa isoform of GAD (glutamic acid decarboxylase), GAD65, to control synaptic GABA levels is influenced through its capacity to auto-inactivate. In contrast, the GAD67 isoform is constitutively active. Previous structural insights suggest that flexibility in the GAD65 catalytic loop drives enzyme inactivation. To test this idea, we constructed a panel of GAD65/67 chimaeras and compared the ability of these molecules to auto-inactivate. Together, our data reveal the important finding that the C-terminal domain of GAD plays a key role in controlling GAD65 auto-inactivation. In support of these findings, we determined the X-ray crystal structure of a GAD65/67 chimaera that reveals that the conformation of the catalytic loop is intimately linked to the C-terminal domain.