Toward a Broader View of Ube3a in a Mouse Model of Angelman Syndrome: Expression in Brain, Spinal Cord, Sciatic Nerve and Glial Cells.
ABSTRACT: Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by developmental delay, speech impairment, movement disorder, sleep disorders and refractory epilepsy. AS is caused by loss of the Ube3a protein encoded for by the imprinted Ube3a gene. Ube3a is expressed nearly exclusively from the maternal chromosome in mature neurons. While imprinting in neurons of the brain has been well described, the imprinting and expression of Ube3a in other neural tissues remains relatively unexplored. Moreover, given the overwhelming deficits in brain function in AS patients, the possibility of disrupted Ube3a expression in the infratentorial nervous system and its consequent disability have been largely ignored. We evaluated the imprinting status of Ube3a in the spinal cord and sciatic nerve and show that it is also imprinted in these neural tissues. Furthermore, a growing body of clinical and radiological evidence has suggested that myelin dysfunction may contribute to morbidity in many neurodevelopmental syndromes. However, findings regarding Ube3a expression in non-neuronal cells of the brain have varied. Utilizing enriched primary cultures of oligodendrocytes and astrocytes, we show that Ube3a is expressed, but not imprinted in these cell types. Unlike many other neurodevelopmental disorders, AS symptoms do not become apparent until roughly 6 to 12 months of age. To determine the temporal expression pattern and silencing, we analyzed Ube3a expression in AS mice at several time points. We confirm relaxed imprinting of Ube3a in neurons of the postnatal developing cortex, but not in structures in which neurogenesis and migration are more complete. This furthers the hypothesis that the apparently normal window of development in AS patients is supported by an incompletely silenced paternal allele in developing neurons, resulting in a relative preservation of Ube3a expression during this crucial epoch of early development.
Project description:The ubiquitin protein E3A ligase gene (UBE3A) gene is imprinted with maternal-specific expression in neurons and biallelically expressed in all other cell types. Both loss-of-function and gain-of-function mutations affecting the dosage of UBE3A are associated with several neurodevelopmental syndromes and psychological conditions, suggesting that UBE3A is dosage-sensitive in the brain. The observation that loss of imprinting increases the dosage of UBE3A in brain further suggests that inactivation of the paternal UBE3A allele evolved as a dosage-regulating mechanism. To test this hypothesis, we examined UBE3A transcript and protein levels among cells, tissues, and species with different imprinting states of UBE3A.Overall, we found no correlation between the imprinting status and dosage of UBE3A. Importantly, we found that maternal Ube3a protein levels increase in step with decreasing paternal Ube3a protein levels during neurogenesis in mouse, fully compensating for loss of expression of the paternal Ube3a allele in neurons.Based on our findings, we propose that imprinting of UBE3A does not function to reduce the dosage of UBE3A in neurons but rather to regulate some other, as yet unknown, aspect of gene expression or protein function.
Project description:Angelman syndrome (AS) is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder caused by the loss of function from the maternal allele of UBE3A, a gene encoding an E3 ubiquitin ligase. UBE3A is only expressed from the maternally inherited allele in mature human neurons due to tissue-specific genomic imprinting. Imprinted expression of UBE3A is restricted to neurons by expression of UBE3A antisense transcript (UBE3A-ATS) from the paternally inherited allele, which silences the paternal allele of UBE3A in cis However, the mechanism restricting UBE3A-ATS expression and UBE3A imprinting to neurons is not understood. We used CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing to functionally define a bipartite boundary element critical for neuron-specific expression of UBE3A-ATS in humans. Removal of this element led to up-regulation of UBE3A-ATS without repressing paternal UBE3A However, increasing expression of UBE3A-ATS in the absence of the boundary element resulted in full repression of paternal UBE3A, demonstrating that UBE3A imprinting requires both the loss of function from the boundary element as well as the up-regulation of UBE3A-ATS These results suggest that manipulation of the competition between UBE3A-ATS and UBE3A may provide a potential therapeutic approach for AS.
Project description:Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and Angelman syndrome (AS) are two neurodevelopmental disorders most often caused by deletions of the same region of paternally inherited and maternally inherited human chromosome 15q, respectively. AS is a single gene disorder, caused by the loss of function of the ubiquitin ligase E3A (UBE3A) gene, while PWS is still considered a contiguous gene disorder. Rare individuals with PWS who carry atypical microdeletions on chromosome 15q have narrowed the critical region for this disorder to a 108 kb region that includes the SNORD116 snoRNA cluster and the Imprinted in Prader-Willi (IPW) non-coding RNA. Here we report the derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from a PWS patient with an atypical microdeletion that spans the PWS critical region. We show that these iPSCs express brain-specific portions of the transcripts driven by the PWS imprinting center, including the UBE3A antisense transcript (UBE3A-ATS). Furthermore, UBE3A expression is imprinted in most of these iPSCs. These data suggest that UBE3A imprinting in neurons only requires UBE3A-ATS expression, and no other neuron-specific factors. These data also suggest that a boundary element lying within the PWS critical region prevents UBE3A-ATS expression in non-neural tissues.
Project description:Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic phenomenon resulting in parent-of-origin-specific gene expression that is regulated by a differentially methylated region. Gene mutations or failures in the imprinting process lead to the development of imprinting disorders, such as Angelman syndrome. The symptoms of Angelman syndrome are caused by the absence of functional UBE3A protein in neurons of the brain. To create a human neuronal model for Angelman syndrome, we reprogrammed dermal fibroblasts of a patient carrying a defined three-base pair deletion in UBE3A into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In these iPSCs, both parental alleles are present, distinguishable by the mutation, and express UBE3A. Detailed characterization of these iPSCs demonstrated their pluripotency and exceptional stability of the differentially methylated region regulating imprinted UBE3A expression. We observed strong induction of SNHG14 and silencing of paternal UBE3A expression only late during neuronal differentiation, in vitro. This new Angelman syndrome iPSC line allows to study imprinted gene regulation on both parental alleles and to dissect molecular pathways affected by the absence of UBE3A protein.
Project description:Mutations or deletions of the maternal allele of the UBE3A gene cause Angelman syndrome (AS), a severe neurodevelopmental disorder. The paternal UBE3A/Ube3a allele becomes epigenetically silenced in most neurons during postnatal development in humans and mice; hence, loss of the maternal allele largely eliminates neuronal expression of UBE3A protein. However, recent studies suggest that paternal Ube3a may escape silencing in certain neuron populations, allowing for persistent expression of paternal UBE3A protein. Here we extend evidence in AS model mice (Ube3a(m-/p+)) of paternal UBE3A expression within the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the master circadian pacemaker. Paternal UBE3A-positive cells in the SCN show partial colocalization with the neuropeptide arginine vasopressin (AVP) and clock proteins (PER2 and BMAL1), supporting that paternal UBE3A expression in the SCN is often of neuronal origin. Paternal UBE3A also partially colocalizes with a marker of neural progenitors, SOX2, implying that relaxed or incomplete imprinting of paternal Ube3a reflects an overall immature molecular phenotype. Our findings highlight the complexity of Ube3a imprinting in the brain and illuminate a subpopulation of SCN neurons as a focal point for future studies aimed at understanding the mechanisms of Ube3a imprinting.
Project description:The E3 ubiquitin ligase UBE3A, also known as E6-AP, has a multitude of ascribed functions and targets relevant to human health and disease. Epigenetic regulation of the UBE3A gene by parentally imprinted noncoding transcription within human chromosome 15q11.2-q13.3 is responsible for the maternal-specific effects of 15q11.2-q13.3 deletion or duplication disorders. Here, we review the evidence for diverse and emerging roles for UBE3A in the proteasome, synapse and nucleus in regulating protein stability and transcription as well as the current mechanistic understanding of UBE3A imprinting in neurons. Angelman and Dup15q syndromes as well as experimental models of these neurodevelopmental disorders are highlighted as improving understanding of UBE3A and its complex regulation for improving therapeutic strategies.
Project description:The paternal allele of Ube3a is silenced by imprinting in neurons, and Angelman syndrome (AS) is a disorder arising from a deletion or mutation of the maternal Ube3a allele, which thereby eliminates Ube3a neuronal expression. Sleep disorders such as short sleep duration and increased sleep onset latency are very common in AS.We found a unique link between neuronal imprinting of Ube3a and circadian rhythms in two mouse models of AS, including enfeebled circadian activity behavior and slowed molecular rhythms in ex vivo brain tissues. As a consequence of compromised circadian behavior, metabolic homeostasis is also disrupted in AS mice. Unsilencing the paternal Ube3a allele restores functional circadian periodicity in neurons deficient in maternal Ube3a but does not affect periodicity in peripheral tissues that are not imprinted for uniparental Ube3a expression. The ubiquitin ligase encoded by Ube3a interacts with the central clock components BMAL1 and BMAL2. Moreover, inactivation of Ube3a expression elevates BMAL1 levels in brain regions that control circadian behavior of AS-model mice, indicating an important role for Ube3a in modulating BMAL1 turnover.Ube3a expression constitutes a direct mechanistic connection between symptoms of a human neurological disorder and the central circadian clock mechanism. The lengthened circadian period leads to delayed phase, which could explain the short sleep duration and increased sleep onset latency of AS subjects. Moreover, we report the pharmacological rescue of an AS phenotype, in this case, altered circadian period. These findings reveal potential treatments for sleep disorders in AS patients.
Project description:Angelman syndrome (AS) is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder caused by maternal deficiency of the imprinted gene UBE3A. Individuals with AS suffer from intellectual disability, speech impairment, and motor dysfunction. Currently there is no cure for the disease. Here, we evaluated the phenotypic effect of activating the silenced paternal allele of Ube3a by depleting its antisense RNA Ube3a-ATS in mice. Premature termination of Ube3a-ATS by poly(A) cassette insertion activates expression of Ube3a from the paternal chromosome, and ameliorates many disease-related symptoms in the AS mouse model, including motor coordination defects, cognitive deficit, and impaired long-term potentiation. Studies on the imprinting mechanism of Ube3a revealed a pattern of biallelic transcription initiation with suppressed elongation of paternal Ube3a, implicating transcriptional collision between sense and antisense polymerases. These studies demonstrate the feasibility and utility of unsilencing the paternal copy of Ube3a via targeting Ube3a-ATS as a treatment for Angelman syndrome.
Project description:Imprinting, non-coding RNA and chromatin organization are modes of epigenetic regulation that modulate gene expression and are necessary for mammalian neurodevelopment. The only two known mammalian clusters of genes encoding small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs), SNRPN through UBE3A(15q11-q13/7qC) and GTL2(14q32.2/12qF1), are neuronally expressed, localized to imprinted loci and involved in at least five neurodevelopmental disorders. Deficiency of the paternal 15q11-q13 snoRNA HBII-85 locus is necessary to cause the neurodevelopmental disorder Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Here we show epigenetically regulated chromatin decondensation at snoRNA clusters in human and mouse brain. An 8-fold allele-specific decondensation of snoRNA chromatin was developmentally regulated specifically in maturing neurons, correlating with HBII-85 nucleolar accumulation and increased nucleolar size. Reciprocal mouse models revealed a genetic and epigenetic requirement of the 35 kb imprinting center (IC) at the Snrpn-Ube3a locus for transcriptionally regulated chromatin decondensation. PWS human brain and IC deletion mouse Purkinje neurons showed significantly decreased nucleolar size, demonstrating the essential role of the 15q11-q13 HBII-85 locus in neuronal nucleolar maturation. These results are relevant to understanding the molecular pathogenesis of multiple human neurodevelopmental disorders, including PWS and some causes of autism.
Project description:Angelman syndrome is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder caused by deletion or mutation of the maternal allele of the ubiquitin protein ligase E3A (UBE3A). In neurons, the paternal allele of UBE3A is intact but epigenetically silenced, raising the possibility that Angelman syndrome could be treated by activating this silenced allele to restore functional UBE3A protein. Using an unbiased, high-content screen in primary cortical neurons from mice, we identify twelve topoisomerase I inhibitors and four topoisomerase II inhibitors that unsilence the paternal Ube3a allele. These drugs included topotecan, irinotecan, etoposide and dexrazoxane (ICRF-187). At nanomolar concentrations, topotecan upregulated catalytically active UBE3A in neurons from maternal Ube3a-null mice. Topotecan concomitantly downregulated expression of the Ube3a antisense transcript that overlaps the paternal copy of Ube3a. These results indicate that topotecan unsilences Ube3a in cis by reducing transcription of an imprinted antisense RNA. When administered in vivo, topotecan unsilenced the paternal Ube3a allele in several regions of the nervous system, including neurons in the hippocampus, neocortex, striatum, cerebellum and spinal cord. Paternal expression of Ube3a remained elevated in a subset of spinal cord neurons for at least 12 ?weeks after cessation of topotecan treatment, indicating that transient topoisomerase inhibition can have enduring effects on gene expression. Although potential off-target effects remain to be investigated, our findings suggest a therapeutic strategy for reactivating the functional but dormant allele of Ube3a in patients with Angelman syndrome.