Trans-synaptic zinc mobilization improves social interaction in two mouse models of autism through NMDAR activation.
ABSTRACT: Genetic aspects of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have recently been extensively explored, but environmental influences that affect ASDs have received considerably less attention. Zinc (Zn) is a nutritional factor implicated in ASDs, but evidence for a strong association and linking mechanism is largely lacking. Here we report that trans-synaptic Zn mobilization rapidly rescues social interaction in two independent mouse models of ASD. In mice lacking Shank2, an excitatory postsynaptic scaffolding protein, postsynaptic Zn elevation induced by clioquinol (a Zn chelator and ionophore) improves social interaction. Postsynaptic Zn is mainly derived from presynaptic pools and activates NMDA receptors (NMDARs) through postsynaptic activation of the tyrosine kinase Src. Clioquinol also improves social interaction in mice haploinsufficient for the transcription factor Tbr1, which accompanies NMDAR activation in the amygdala. These results suggest that trans-synaptic Zn mobilization induced by clioquinol rescues social deficits in mouse models of ASD through postsynaptic Src and NMDAR activation.
Project description:Animals prenatally exposed to valproic acid (VPA), an antiepileptic agent, have been used as a model for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Previous studies have identified enhanced NMDA receptor (NMDAR) function in the brain of VPA rats, and demonstrated that pharmacological suppression of NMDAR function normalizes social deficits in these animals. However, whether repetitive behavior, another key feature of ASDs, can be rescued by NMDAR inhibition remains unknown. We report here that memantine, an NMDAR antagonist, administered to VPA mice rescues both social deficits and repetitive behaviors such as self-grooming and jumping. These results suggest that suppression of elevated NMDAR function in VPA animals normalizes repetitive behaviors in addition to social deficits.
Project description:Patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) commonly experience aberrant tactile sensitivity, yet the neural alterations underlying somatosensory dysfunction and the extent to which tactile deficits contribute to ASD characteristics are unknown. We report that mice harboring mutations in Mecp2, Gabrb3, Shank3, and Fmr1 genes associated with ASDs in humans exhibit altered tactile discrimination and hypersensitivity to gentle touch. Deletion of Mecp2 or Gabrb3 in peripheral somatosensory neurons causes mechanosensory dysfunction through loss of GABAA receptor-mediated presynaptic inhibition of inputs to the CNS. Remarkably, tactile defects resulting from Mecp2 or Gabrb3 deletion in somatosensory neurons during development, but not in adulthood, cause social interaction deficits and anxiety-like behavior. Restoring Mecp2 expression exclusively in the somatosensory neurons of Mecp2-null mice rescues tactile sensitivity, anxiety-like behavior, and social interaction deficits, but not lethality, memory, or motor deficits. Thus, mechanosensory processing defects contribute to anxiety-like behavior and social interaction deficits in ASD mouse models. PAPERCLIP.
Project description:The elevated sympathetic outflow associated with hypertension is maintained by increased N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) activity in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus. Synaptic NMDAR activity is tightly regulated by protein kinases, including the Src family of tyrosine kinases. We determined whether Src kinases play a role in increased NMDAR activity of PVN neurons projecting to the rostral ventrolateral medulla and in elevated sympathetic vasomotor tone in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs). The Src protein level in the PVN was significantly greater in SHRs than in normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats and was not significantly altered by lowering blood pressure with celiac ganglionectomy in SHRs. Inhibition of Src kinase activity with 4-amino-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-7-(dimethylethyl)pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine (PP2) completely normalized the higher amplitudes of evoked NMDAR-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents and puff NMDA-elicited currents of rostral ventrolateral medulla-projecting PVN neurons in SHRs. PP2 treatment also attenuated the higher frequency of NMDAR-mediated miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents of these neurons in SHRs. However, PP2 had no effect on NMDAR-excitatory postsynaptic currents or miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents of rostral ventrolateral medulla-projecting PVN neurons in WKY rats. NMDAR activity increased by an Src-activating peptide was blocked by PP2 but not by inhibition of casein kinase 2. In addition, microinjection of PP2 into the PVN not only decreased lumbar sympathetic nerve discharges and blood pressure but also eliminated the inhibitory effect of the NMDAR antagonist on sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure in SHRs. Collectively, our findings suggest that increased Src kinase activity potentiates presynaptic and postsynaptic NMDAR activity in the PVN and sympathetic vasomotor tone in hypertension.
Project description:Behavioral symptoms in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have been attributed to abnormal neuronal connectivity, but the molecular bases of these behavioral and brain phenotypes are largely unknown. Human genetic studies have implicated PCDH10, a member of the ?2 subfamily of nonclustered protocadherin genes, in ASD. PCDH10 expression is enriched in the basolateral amygdala, a brain region implicated in the social deficits of ASD. Previous reports indicate that Pcdh10 plays a role in axon outgrowth and glutamatergic synapse elimination, but its roles in social behaviors and amygdala neuronal connectivity are unknown. We hypothesized that haploinsufficiency of Pcdh10 would reduce social approach behavior and alter the structure and function of amygdala circuits.Mice lacking one copy of Pcdh10 (Pcdh10+/-) and wild-type littermates were assessed for social approach and other behaviors. The lateral/basolateral amygdala was assessed for dendritic spine number and morphology, and amygdala circuit function was studied using voltage-sensitive dye imaging. Expression of Pcdh10 and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) subunits was assessed in postsynaptic density fractions of the amygdala.Male Pcdh10+/- mice have reduced social approach behavior, as well as impaired gamma synchronization, abnormal spine morphology, and reduced levels of NMDAR subunits in the amygdala. Social approach deficits in Pcdh10+/- male mice were rescued with acute treatment with the NMDAR partial agonist d-cycloserine.Our studies reveal that male Pcdh10+/- mice have synaptic and behavioral deficits, and establish Pcdh10+/- mice as a novel genetic model for investigating neural circuitry and behavioral changes relevant to ASD.
Project description:Human neuroimaging studies suggest that aberrant neural connectivity underlies behavioural deficits in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), but the molecular and neural circuit mechanisms underlying ASDs remain elusive. Here, we describe a complete knockout mouse model of the autism-associated Shank3 gene, with a deletion of exons 4-22 (?e4-22). Both mGluR5-Homer scaffolds and mGluR5-mediated signalling are selectively altered in striatal neurons. These changes are associated with perturbed function at striatal synapses, abnormal brain morphology, aberrant structural connectivity and ASD-like behaviour. In vivo recording reveals that the cortico-striatal-thalamic circuit is tonically hyperactive in mutants, but becomes hypoactive during social behaviour. Manipulation of mGluR5 activity attenuates excessive grooming and instrumental learning differentially, and rescues impaired striatal synaptic plasticity in ?e4-22(-/-) mice. These findings show that deficiency of Shank3 can impair mGluR5-Homer scaffolding, resulting in cortico-striatal circuit abnormalities that underlie deficits in learning and ASD-like behaviours. These data suggest causal links between genetic, molecular, and circuit mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of ASDs.
Project description:Extensive evidence links Glutamate receptor, ionotropic, NMDA2B (GRIN2B), encoding the GluN2B/NR2B subunit of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs), with various neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In addition, it remains unknown whether mutations in GluN2B, which starts to be expressed early in development, induces early pathophysiology that can be corrected by early treatments for long-lasting effects. We generated and characterized Grin2b-mutant mice that carry a heterozygous, ASD-risk C456Y mutation (Grin2b+/C456Y). In Grin2b+/C456Y mice, GluN2B protein levels were strongly reduced in association with decreased hippocampal NMDAR currents and NMDAR-dependent long-term depression (LTD) but unaltered long-term potentiation, indicative of mutation-induced protein degradation and LTD sensitivity. Behaviorally, Grin2b+/C456Y mice showed normal social interaction but exhibited abnormal anxiolytic-like behavior. Importantly, early, but not late, treatment of young Grin2b+/C456Y mice with the NMDAR agonist D-cycloserine rescued NMDAR currents and LTD in juvenile mice and improved anxiolytic-like behavior in adult mice. Therefore, GluN2B-C456Y haploinsufficiency decreases GluN2B protein levels, NMDAR-dependent LTD, and anxiety-like behavior, and early activation of NMDAR function has long-lasting effects on adult mouse behavior.
Project description:Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by impairments in social behaviors that are sometimes coupled to specialized cognitive abilities. A small percentage of ASD patients carry mutations in genes encoding neuroligins, which are postsynaptic cell-adhesion molecules. We introduced one of these mutations into mice: the Arg451-->Cys451 (R451C) substitution in neuroligin-3. R451C mutant mice showed impaired social interactions but enhanced spatial learning abilities. Unexpectedly, these behavioral changes were accompanied by an increase in inhibitory synaptic transmission with no apparent effect on excitatory synapses. Deletion of neuroligin-3, in contrast, did not cause such changes, indicating that the R451C substitution represents a gain-of-function mutation. These data suggest that increased inhibitory synaptic transmission may contribute to human ASDs and that the R451C knockin mice may be a useful model for studying autism-related behaviors.
Project description:Hyperconnectivity of neuronal circuits due to increased synaptic protein synthesis is thought to cause autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is strongly implicated in ASDs by means of upstream signalling; however, downstream regulatory mechanisms are ill-defined. Here we show that knockout of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 2 (4E-BP2)-an eIF4E repressor downstream of mTOR-or eIF4E overexpression leads to increased translation of neuroligins, which are postsynaptic proteins that are causally linked to ASDs. Mice that have the gene encoding 4E-BP2 (Eif4ebp2) knocked out exhibit an increased ratio of excitatory to inhibitory synaptic inputs and autistic-like behaviours (that is, social interaction deficits, altered communication and repetitive/stereotyped behaviours). Pharmacological inhibition of eIF4E activity or normalization of neuroligin 1, but not neuroligin 2, protein levels restores the normal excitation/inhibition ratio and rectifies the social behaviour deficits. Thus, translational control by eIF4E regulates the synthesis of neuroligins, maintaining the excitation-to-inhibition balance, and its dysregulation engenders ASD-like phenotypes.
Project description:Shank2 is an excitatory postsynaptic scaffolding protein strongly implicated in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Shank2-mutant mice with a homozygous deletion of exons 6 and 7 show decreased NMDA receptor (NMDAR) functions and autistic-like behaviors in juvenile (~postnatal day or P21) and adult (> P56) stages that are rescued by NMDAR activation. These mice, however, show an opposite change increased NMDAR functions—at ~P14, and NMDAR suppression by early and chronic memantine treatment during P7–21 prevents NMDAR hypofunction and autistic-like behaviors at juvenile (~P21) and adult (~P56) stages. To explore molecular mechanisms underlying the long-lasting effects of early memantine treatment, we performed RNA-Seq analysis of forebrains from wild-type and Shank2-mutant mice early and chronically treated with vehicle or memantine. Memantine-treated Shank2-mutant mice showed upregulations of chromatin-related genes and downregulations of mitochondria- and ribosome-related genes. In addition, vehicle-treated Shank2-mutant mice showed transcriptomic patterns that are largely opposite to those observed in ASD, as supported by the expression patterns of ASD-risk/related genes and cell-type-specific genes. These patterns, likely representing compensatory changes, were weakened by early memantine treatment. These results suggest that early chronic memantine treatment in Shank2-mutant mice alters chromatin- and mitochondria/ribosome-related gene expressions and weakens anti-ASD transcriptomic patterns. Overall design: Forebrain transcriptome of memantine-, vehicle-treated Shank2 wild-type and knock-out mice
Project description:Group II metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR2/3) have emerged as important targets for the treatment of schizophrenia. Since hypofunction of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) has also been implicated in the etiology of schizophrenia, we examined whether postsynaptic mGluR2/3 regulate NMDAR function. Activation of mGluR2/3 significantly decreased the ratio of AMPA-to-NMDA excitatory postsynaptic currents at Schaffer Collateral-CA1 synapses and enhanced the peak of NMDA-evoked currents in acutely isolated CA1 neurons. The mGluR2/3-mediated potentiation of NMDAR currents was selective for GluN2A-containing NMDARs and was mediated by the Src family kinase Src. Activation of mGluR2/3 inhibited the adenylyl cyclase-cAMP-PKA pathway and thereby activated Src by inhibiting its regulatory C-terminal Src kinase (Csk). We suggest a novel model of regulation of NMDARs by Gi/o-coupled receptors whereby inhibition of the cAMP-PKA pathway via mGluR2/3 activates Src kinase and potentiates GluN2A-containing NMDAR currents. This represents a potentially novel mechanism to correct the hypoglutamatergic state found in schizophrenia.