Systems Genetic Analyses Highlight a TGF?-FOXO3 Dependent Striatal Astrocyte Network Conserved across Species and Associated with Stress, Sleep, and Huntington's Disease.
ABSTRACT: Recent systems-based analyses have demonstrated that sleep and stress traits emerge from shared genetic and transcriptional networks, and clinical work has elucidated the emergence of sleep dysfunction and stress susceptibility as early symptoms of Huntington's disease. Understanding the biological bases of these early non-motor symptoms may reveal therapeutic targets that prevent disease onset or slow disease progression, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this complex clinical presentation remain largely unknown. In the present work, we specifically examine the relationship between these psychiatric traits and Huntington's disease (HD) by identifying striatal transcriptional networks shared by HD, stress, and sleep phenotypes. First, we utilize a systems-based approach to examine a large publicly available human transcriptomic dataset for HD (GSE3790 from GEO) in a novel way. We use weighted gene coexpression network analysis and differential connectivity analyses to identify transcriptional networks dysregulated in HD, and we use an unbiased ranking scheme that leverages both gene- and network-level information to identify a novel astrocyte-specific network as most relevant to HD caudate. We validate this result in an independent HD cohort. Next, we computationally predict FOXO3 as a regulator of this network, and use multiple publicly available in vitro and in vivo experimental datasets to validate that this astrocyte HD network is downstream of a signaling pathway important in adult neurogenesis (TGF?-FOXO3). We also map this HD-relevant caudate subnetwork to striatal transcriptional networks in a large (n = 100) chronically stressed (B6xA/J)F2 mouse population that has been extensively phenotyped (328 stress- and sleep-related measurements), and we show that this striatal astrocyte network is correlated to sleep and stress traits, many of which are known to be altered in HD cohorts. We identify causal regulators of this network through Bayesian network analysis, and we highlight their relevance to motor, mood, and sleep traits through multiple in silico approaches, including an examination of their protein binding partners. Finally, we show that these causal regulators may be therapeutically viable for HD because their downstream network was partially modulated by deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus, a medical intervention thought to confer some therapeutic benefit to HD patients. In conclusion, we show that an astrocyte transcriptional network is primarily associated to HD in the caudate and provide evidence for its relationship to molecular mechanisms of neural stem cell homeostasis. Furthermore, we present a unified systems-based framework for identifying gene networks that are associated with complex non-motor traits that manifest in the earliest phases of HD. By analyzing and integrating multiple independent datasets, we identify a point of molecular convergence between sleep, stress, and HD that reflects their phenotypic comorbidity and reveals a molecular pathway involved in HD progression.
Project description:Sleep dysfunction and stress susceptibility are co-morbid complex traits, which often precede and predispose patients to a variety of neuropsychiatric diseases. Here, we demonstrate multi-level organizations of genetic landscape, candidate genes, and molecular networks associated with 328 stress and sleep traits in a chronically stressed population of 338 (C57BL/6J×A/J) F2 mice. We constructed striatal gene co-expression networks, revealing functionally and cell-type-specific gene co-regulations important for stress and sleep. Using a composite ranking system, we identified network modules most relevant for 15 independent phenotypic categories, highlighting a mitochondria/synaptic module that links sleep and stress. The key network regulators of this module are overrepresented with genes implicated in neuropsychiatric diseases. Our work suggests the interplay between sleep, stress, and neuropathology emerge from genetic influences on gene expression and their collective organization through complex molecular networks, providing a framework to interrogate the mechanisms underlying sleep, stress susceptibility, and related neuropathology. Examination of genomic and transcriptomic networks in a random subset of 100 (B6xA/J)F2 mice modeling the natural spectrum of stress susceptibility.
Project description:Sleep dysfunction and stress susceptibility are comorbid complex traits that often precede and predispose patients to a variety of neuropsychiatric diseases. Here, we demonstrate multilevel organizations of genetic landscape, candidate genes, and molecular networks associated with 328 stress and sleep traits in a chronically stressed population of 338 (C57BL/6J × A/J) F2 mice. We constructed striatal gene co-expression networks, revealing functionally and cell-type-specific gene co-regulations important for stress and sleep. Using a composite ranking system, we identified network modules most relevant for 15 independent phenotypic categories, highlighting a mitochondria/synaptic module that links sleep and stress. The key network regulators of this module are overrepresented with genes implicated in neuropsychiatric diseases. Our work suggests that the interplay among sleep, stress, and neuropathology emerges from genetic influences on gene expression and their collective organization through complex molecular networks, providing a framework for interrogating the mechanisms underlying sleep, stress susceptibility, and related neuropsychiatric disorders.
Project description:Insomnia is prevalent, severe and partially heritable. Unfortunately, its neuronal correlates remain enigmatic, hampering the development of mechanistic models and rational treatments. Consistently reported impairments concern fragmented sleep, hyper-arousal and executive dysfunction. Because fronto-striatal networks could well play a role in sleep, arousal regulation and executive functioning, the present series of studies used an executive task to evaluate fronto-striatal functioning in disturbed sleep. Patients with insomnia showed reduced recruitment of the head of the left caudate nucleus during executive functioning, which was not secondary to altered performance or baseline perfusion. Individual differences in caudate recruitment were associated with hyper-arousal severity. Seed-based functional connectivity analysis suggested that attenuated input from a projecting orbitofrontal area with reduced grey matter density contributes to altered caudate recruitment in patients with insomnia. Attenuated caudate recruitment persisted after successful treatment of insomnia, warranting evaluation as a potential vulnerability trait. A similar selective reduction in caudate recruitment could be elicited in participants without sleep complaints by slow-wave sleep fragmentation, providing a model to facilitate investigation of the causes and consequences of insomnia.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Network alterations underlying neurodegenerative diseases often precede symptoms and functional deficits. Thus, their early identification is central for improved prognosis. In Huntington's disease (HD), the cortico-striatal networks, involved in motor function processing, are the most compromised neural substrate. However, whether the network alterations are intrinsic of the striatum or the cortex is not fully understood. RESULTS:In order to identify early HD neural deficits, we characterized neuronal ensemble calcium activity and network topology of HD striatal and cortical cultures. We used large-scale calcium imaging combined with activity-based network inference analysis. We extracted collective activity events and inferred the topology of the neuronal network in cortical and striatal primary cultures from wild-type and R6/1 mouse model of HD. Striatal, but not cortical, HD networks displayed lower activity and a lessened ability to integrate information. GABAA receptor blockade in healthy and HD striatal cultures generated similar coordinated ensemble activity and network topology, highlighting that the excitatory component of striatal system is spared in HD. Conversely, NMDA receptor activation increased individual neuronal activity while coordinated activity became highly variable and undefined. Interestingly, by boosting NMDA activity, we rectified striatal HD network alterations. CONCLUSIONS:Overall, our integrative approach highlights striatal defective network integration capacity as a major contributor of basal ganglia dysfunction in HD and suggests that increased excitatory drive may serve as a potential intervention. In addition, our work provides a valuable tool to evaluate in vitro network recovery after treatment intervention in basal ganglia disorders.
Project description:Age-related changes in striatal function are potentially important for predicting declining memory performance over the adult life span. Here, we used fMRI to measure functional connectivity of caudate subfields with large-scale association networks and positron emission tomography to measure striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) density in 51 older adults (age 65-86 years) who received annual cognitive testing for up to 7 years (mean = 5.59, range 2-7 years). Analyses showed that cortical-caudate functional connectivity was less differentiated in older compared with younger adults (n = 63, age 18-32 years). Unlike in younger adults, the central lateral caudate was less strongly coupled with the frontal parietal control network in older adults. Older adults also showed less "decoupling" of the caudate from other networks, including areas of the default network (DN) and the hippocampal complex. Contrary to expectations, less decoupling between caudate and the DN was not associated with an age-related reduction of striatal DAT, suggesting that neurobiological changes in the cortex may drive dedifferentiation of cortical-caudate connectivity. Reduction of specificity in functional coupling between caudate and regions of the DN predicted memory decline over subsequent years at older ages. The age-related reduction in striatal DAT density also predicted memory decline, suggesting that a relation between striatal functions and memory decline in aging is multifaceted. Collectively, the study provides evidence highlighting the association of age-related differences in striatal function to memory decline in normal aging.
Project description:Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder. Oxidative damage has been associated with pathological neuronal loss in HD. The therapeutic modulation of oxidative stress and mitochondrial function using low molecular weight compounds may be an important strategy for delaying the onset and slowing the progression of HD. In the present study, we found a marked increase of 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE) adducts, a lipid peroxidation marker, in the caudate and putamen of HD brains and in the striatum of HD mice. Notably, 4-HNE immunoreactivity was colocalized with mutant huntingtin inclusions in the striatal neurons of R6/2 HD mice. Administration of nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), an antioxidant that functions by inhibiting lipid peroxidation, markedly reduced 4-HNE adduct formation in the nuclear inclusions of R6/2 striatal neurons. NDGA also protected cultured neurons against oxidative stress-induced cell death by improving ATP generation and mitochondrial morphology and function. In addition, NDGA restored mitochondrial membrane potential, mitochondrial structure, and synapse structure in the striatum of R6/2 mice and increased their lifespan. The present findings suggest that further therapeutic studies using NDGA are warranted in HD and other neurodegenerative diseases characterized by increased oxidative stress and altered mitochondrial function.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Evidence shows significant heterogeneity in astrocyte gene expression and function. We previously demonstrated that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) exerts protective effects on whole brain primary cultured rat astrocytes treated with 3-nitropropionic acid (3NP), a mitochondrial toxin widely used as an in vitro model of Huntington's disease (HD). Therefore, we now investigated 3NP and BDNF effects on astrocytes from two areas involved in HD: the striatum and the entire cortex, and their involvement in neuron survival. METHODS:We prepared primary cultured rat cortical or striatal astrocytes and treated them with BDNF and/or 3NP for 24 h. In these cells, we assessed expression of astrocyte markers, BDNF receptor, and glutamate transporters, and cytokine release. We prepared astrocyte-conditioned medium (ACM) from cortical and striatal astrocytes and tested its effect on a cellular model of HD. RESULTS:BDNF protected astrocytes from 3NP-induced death, increased expression of its own receptor, and activation of ERK in both cortical and striatal astrocytes. However, BDNF modulated glutamate transporter expression differently by increasing GLT1 and GLAST expression in cortical astrocytes but only GLT1 expression in striatal astrocytes. Striatal astrocytes released higher amounts of tumor necrosis factor-? than cortical astrocytes in response to 3NP but BDNF decreased this effect in both populations. 3NP decreased transforming growth factor-? release only in cortical astrocytes, whereas BDNF treatment increased its release only in striatal astrocytes. Finally, we evaluated ACM effect on a cellular model of HD: the rat striatal neuron cell line ST14A expressing mutant human huntingtin (Q120) or in ST14A cells expressing normal human huntingtin (Q15). Neither striatal nor cortical ACM modified the viability of Q15 cells. Only ACM from striatal astrocytes treated with BDNF and ACM from 3NP + BDNF-treated striatal astrocytes protected Q120 cells, whereas ACM from cortical astrocytes did not. CONCLUSIONS:Data suggest that cortical and striatal astrocytes respond differently to mitochondrial toxin 3NP and BDNF. Moreover, striatal astrocytes secrete soluble neuroprotective factors in response to BDNF that selectively protect neurons expressing mutant huntingtin implicating that BDNF modulation of striatal astrocyte function has therapeutic potential against neurodegeneration.
Project description:Cortico-striatal network dysfunction in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is generally investigated by comparing functional connectivity of the main striatal sub-regions (i.e., putamen, caudate, and nucleus accumbens) between an ADHD and a control group. However, dimensional analyses based on continuous symptom measures might help to parse the high phenotypic heterogeneity in ADHD. Here, we focus on functional segregation of regions in the striatum and investigate cortico-striatal networks using both categorical and dimensional measures of ADHD.We computed whole-brain functional connectivity for six striatal sub-regions that resulted from a novel functional parcellation technique. We compared functional connectivity maps between adolescents with ADHD (N=169) and healthy controls (N=122), and investigated dimensional ADHD-related measures by relating striatal connectivity to ADHD symptom scores (N=444). Finally, we examined whether altered connectivity of striatal sub-regions related to motor and cognitive performance.We observed no case-control differences in functional connectivity patterns of the six striatal networks. In contrast, inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity symptom scores were associated with increases in functional connectivity in the networks of posterior putamen and ventral caudate. Increased connectivity of posterior putamen with motor cortex and cerebellum was associated with decreased motor performance.Our findings support hypotheses of cortico-striatal network dysfunction in ADHD by demonstrating that dimensional symptom measures are associated with changes in functional connectivity. These changes were not detected by categorical ADHD versus control group analyses, highlighting the important contribution of dimensional analyses to investigating the neurobiology of ADHD.
Project description:Huntington's disease is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder associated with progressive motor and cognitive impairments, and the expansion of a cysteine-adenine-guanine trinucleotide (polyglutamine) repeats in exon one of the human huntingtin gene. The pathology of the disease is characterized by a profound degeneration of striatal GABAergic projection neurons with relative sparing of interneurons accompanied with astrogliosis. Here, we describe the striatal pathology in two genotypically different transgenic HD monkeys that exhibit degrees of disease progression that resembled those seen in juvenile- (rHD1) and adult-onset (rHD7) HD. The caudate nucleus and putamen underwent severe neuronal loss in both animals, while the striatal volume was reduced only in rHD1, the most severely affected monkey. The number of GABAergic (calretinin- and parvalbumin-positive) and cholinergic interneurons was also reduced in most striatal regions of these two monkeys, but to variable degrees. Overall, the density of interneurons was increased in rHD1, but not in rHD7, suggesting a relative sparing of interneurons over projection neurons in the striatum of the most affected HD monkey. The neuropil of both the caudate nucleus and putamen was invaded with reactive astrocytes in rHD1, while astrogliosis was much less severe in rHD7 and absent from control. Combined with behavioral data collected from these monkeys, our findings further demonstrate that transgenic HD monkeys share similar disease patterns with HD patients, making them a highly reliable preclinical HD animal model.
Project description:Huntington's disease (HD) is caused by Huntingtin (Htt) gene mutation resulting in the loss of striatal GABAergic neurons and motor functional deficits. We report here an in vivo cell conversion technology to reprogram striatal astrocytes into GABAergic neurons in both R6/2 and YAC128 HD mouse models through AAV-mediated ectopic expression of NeuroD1 and Dlx2 transcription factors. We found that the astrocyte-to-neuron (AtN) conversion rate reached 80% in the striatum and >50% of the converted neurons were DARPP32+ medium spiny neurons. The striatal astrocyte-converted neurons showed action potentials and synaptic events, and projected their axons to the targeted globus pallidus and substantia nigra in a time-dependent manner. Behavioral analyses found that NeuroD1 and Dlx2-treated R6/2 mice showed a significant extension of life span and improvement of motor functions. This study demonstrates that in vivo AtN conversion may be a disease-modifying gene therapy to treat HD and other neurodegenerative disorders.