Differentiation of control and ALS mutant human iPSCs into functional skeletal muscle cells, a tool for the study of neuromuscolar diseases.
ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a severe and fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive loss of motoneurons, muscle atrophy and paralysis. Recent evidence suggests that ALS should be considered as a multi-systemic disease, in which several cell types contribute to motoneuron degeneration. In this view, mutations in ALS linked genes in other neural and non-neural cell types may exert non-cell autonomous effects on motoneuron survival and function. Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) have been recently derived from several patients with ALS mutations and it has been shown that they can generate motoneurons in vitro, providing a valuable tool to study ALS. However, the potential of iPSCs could be further valorized by generating other cell types that may be relevant to the pathology. In this paper, by taking advantage of a novel inducible system for MyoD expression, we show that both control iPSCs and iPSCs carrying mutations in ALS genes can generate skeletal muscle cells. We provide evidence that both control and mutant iPSC-derived myotubes are functionally active. This in vitro system will be instrumental to dissect the molecular and cellular pathways impairing the complex motoneuron microenvironment in ALS.
Project description:The FUS gene has been linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). FUS is a ubiquitous RNA-binding protein, and the mechanisms leading to selective motoneuron loss downstream of ALS-linked mutations are largely unknown. We report the transcriptome analysis of human purified motoneurons, obtained from FUS wild-type or mutant isogenic induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Gene ontology analysis of differentially expressed genes identified significant enrichment of pathways previously associated to sporadic ALS and other neurological diseases. Several microRNAs (miRNAs) were also deregulated in FUS mutant motoneurons, including miR-375, involved in motoneuron survival. We report that relevant targets of miR-375, including the neural RNA-binding protein ELAVL4 and apoptotic factors, are aberrantly increased in FUS mutant motoneurons. Characterization of transcriptome changes in the cell type primarily affected by the disease contributes to the definition of the pathogenic mechanisms of FUS-linked ALS.
Project description:Induced pluripotent cell-derived motoneurons (iPSCMNs) are sought for use in cell replacement therapies and treatment strategies for motoneuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, much remains unknown about the physiological properties of iPSCMNs and how they compare with endogenous spinal motoneurons or embryonic stem cell-derived motoneurons (ESCMNs). In the present study, we first used a proteomic approach and compared protein expression profiles between iPSCMNs and ESCMNs to show that <4% of the proteins identified were differentially regulated. Like ESCs, we found that mouse iPSCs treated with retinoic acid and a smoothened agonist differentiated into motoneurons expressing the LIM homeodomain protein Lhx3. When transplanted into the neural tube of developing chick embryos, iPSCMNs selectively targeted muscles normally innervated by Lhx3 motoneurons. In vitro studies showed that iPSCMNs form anatomically mature and functional neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) when cocultured with chick myofibers for several weeks. Electrophysiologically, iPSCMNs developed passive membrane and firing characteristic typical of postnatal motoneurons after several weeks in culture. Finally, iPSCMNs grafted into transected mouse tibial nerve projected axons to denervated gastrocnemius muscle fibers, where they formed functional NMJs, restored contractile force. and attenuated denervation atrophy. Together, iPSCMNs possess many of the same cellular and physiological characteristics as ESCMNs and endogenous spinal motoneurons. These results further justify using iPSCMNs as a source of motoneurons for cell replacement therapies and to study motoneuron diseases such as ALS.
Project description:Hyperexcitability has been suggested to contribute to motoneuron degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). If this is so, and given that the physiological type of a motor unit determines the relative susceptibility of its motoneuron in ALS, then one would expect the most vulnerable motoneurons to display the strongest hyperexcitability prior to their degeneration, whereas the less vulnerable should display a moderate hyperexcitability, if any. We tested this hypothesis in vivo in two unrelated ALS mouse models by correlating the electrical properties of motoneurons with their physiological types, identified based on their motor unit contractile properties. We found that, far from being hyperexcitable, the most vulnerable motoneurons become unable to fire repetitively despite the fact that their neuromuscular junctions were still functional. Disease markers confirm that this loss of function is an early sign of degeneration. Our results indicate that intrinsic hyperexcitability is unlikely to be the cause of motoneuron degeneration.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incurable neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects motoneurons in the brain and spinal cord. Dominant mutations in superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) cause a familial form of ALS. Mutant SOD1-damaged glial cells contribute to ALS pathogenesis by releasing neurotoxic factors, but the mechanistic basis of the motoneuron-specific elimination is poorly understood. Here, we describe a motoneuron-selective death pathway triggered by activation of lymphotoxin-? receptor (LT-?R) by LIGHT, and operating by a novel signaling scheme. We show that astrocytes expressing mutant SOD1 mediate the selective death of motoneurons through the proinflammatory cytokine interferon-? (IFN?), which activates the LIGHT-LT-?R death pathway. The expression of LIGHT and LT-?R by motoneurons in vivo correlates with the preferential expression of IFN? by motoneurons and astrocytes at disease onset and symptomatic stage in ALS mice. Importantly, the genetic ablation of Light in an ALS mouse model retards progression, but not onset, of the disease and increases lifespan. We propose that IFN? contributes to a cross-talk between motoneurons and astrocytes causing the selective loss of some motoneurons following activation of the LIGHT-induced death pathway.
Project description:In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) the large motoneurons that innervate the fast-contracting muscle fibers (F-type motoneurons) are vulnerable and degenerate in adulthood. In contrast, the small motoneurons that innervate the slow-contracting fibers (S-type motoneurons) are resistant and do not degenerate. Intrinsic hyperexcitability of F-type motoneurons during early postnatal development has long been hypothesized to contribute to neural degeneration in the adult. Here, we performed a critical test of this hypothesis by recording from identified F- and S-type motoneurons in the superoxide dismutase-1 mutant G93A (mSOD1), a mouse model of ALS at a neonatal age when early pathophysiological changes are observed. Contrary to the standard hypothesis, excitability of F-type motoneurons was unchanged in the mutant mice. Surprisingly, the S-type motoneurons of mSDO1 mice did display intrinsic hyperexcitability (lower rheobase, hyperpolarized spiking threshold). As S-type motoneurons are resistant in ALS, we conclude that early intrinsic hyperexcitability does not contribute to motoneuron degeneration.
Project description:The reasons for the cellular specificity and slow progression of motoneuron diseases such as ALS are still poorly understood. We previously described a motoneuron-specific cell death pathway downstream of the Fas death receptor, in which synthesis of nitric oxide (NO) is an obligate step. Motoneurons from ALS model mice expressing mutant SOD1 showed increased susceptibility to exogenous NO as compared with controls. Here, we report a signaling mechanism whereby NO leads to death of mutant, but not control, motoneurons. Unexpectedly, exogenous NO triggers expression of Fas ligand (FasL) in cultured motoneurons. In mutant SOD1(G93A) and SOD1(G85R), but not in control motoneurons, this up-regulation results in activation of Fas, leading through Daxx to phosphorylation of p38 and further NO synthesis. This Fas/NO feedback amplification loop is required for motoneuron death in vitro. In vivo, mutant SOD1(G93A) and SOD1(G85R) mice show increased numbers of positive motoneurons and Daxx nuclear bodies weeks before disease onset. Moreover, FasL up-regulation is reduced in the presence of transgenic dominant-negative Daxx. We propose that chronic low-level activation of the Fas/NO feedback loop may underlie the motoneuron loss that characterizes familial ALS and may help to explain its slowly progressive nature.
Project description:Adaptive immune response is part of the dynamic changes that accompany motoneuron loss in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). CD4+ T cells that regulate a protective immunity during the neurodegenerative process have received the most attention. CD8+ T cells are also observed in the spinal cord of patients and ALS mice although their contribution to the disease still remains elusive. Here, we found that activated CD8+ T lymphocytes infiltrate the central nervous system (CNS) of a mouse model of ALS at the symptomatic stage. Selective ablation of CD8+ T cells in mice expressing the ALS-associated superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1)G93A mutant decreased spinal motoneuron loss. Using motoneuron-CD8+ T cell coculture systems, we found that mutant SOD1-expressing CD8+ T lymphocytes selectively kill motoneurons. This cytotoxicity activity requires the recognition of the peptide-MHC-I complex (where MHC-I represents major histocompatibility complex class I). Measurement of interaction strength by atomic force microscopy-based single-cell force spectroscopy demonstrated a specific MHC-I-dependent interaction between motoneuron and SOD1 G93A CD8+ T cells. Activated mutant SOD1 CD8+ T cells produce interferon-γ, which elicits the expression of the MHC-I complex in motoneurons and exerts their cytotoxic function through Fas and granzyme pathways. In addition, analysis of the clonal diversity of CD8+ T cells in the periphery and CNS of ALS mice identified an antigen-restricted repertoire of their T cell receptor in the CNS. Our results suggest that self-directed immune response takes place during the course of the disease, contributing to the selective elimination of a subset of motoneurons in ALS.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal paralytic disorder caused by dysfunction and degeneration of motor neurons. Multiple disease-causing mutations, including in the genes for SOD1 and TDP-43, have been identified in ALS. Astrocytes expressing mutant SOD1 are strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of ALS: we have shown that media conditioned by astrocytes carrying mutant SOD1(G93A) contains toxic factor(s) that kill motoneurons by activating voltage-sensitive sodium (Na v ) channels. In contrast, a recent study suggests that astrocytes expressing mutated TDP43 contribute to ALS pathology, but do so via cell-autonomous processes and lack non-cell-autonomous toxicity. Here we investigate whether astrocytes that express diverse ALS-causing mutations release toxic factor(s) that induce motoneuron death, and if so, whether they do so via a common pathogenic pathway. We exposed primary cultures of wild-type spinal cord cells to conditioned medium derived from astrocytes (ACM) that express SOD1 (ACM-SOD1(G93A) and ACM-SOD1(G86R)) or TDP43 (ACM-TDP43(A315T)) mutants; we show that such exposure rapidly (within 30-60 min) increases dichlorofluorescein (DCF) fluorescence (indicative of nitroxidative stress) and leads to extensive motoneuron-specific death within a few days. Co-application of the diverse ACMs with anti-oxidants Trolox or esculetin (but not with resveratrol) strongly improves motoneuron survival. We also find that co-incubation of the cultures in the ACMs with Na v channel blockers (including mexiletine, spermidine, or riluzole) prevents both intracellular nitroxidative stress and motoneuron death. Together, our data document that two completely unrelated ALS models lead to the death of motoneuron via non-cell-autonomous processes, and show that astrocytes expressing mutations in SOD1 and TDP43 trigger such cell death through a common pathogenic pathway that involves nitroxidative stress, induced at least in part by Na v channel activity.
Project description:In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), loss of motoneuron function leads to weakness and, ultimately, respiratory failure and death. Regardless of the initial pathogenic factors, motoneuron loss follows a specific pattern: the largest ?-motoneurons die before smaller ?-motoneurons, and ?-motoneurons are spared. In this article, we examine how homeostatic responses to this orderly progression could lead to local microcircuit dysfunction that in turn propagates motoneuron dysfunction and death. We first review motoneuron diversity and the principle of ?-? coactivation and then discuss two specific spinal motoneuron microcircuits: those involving proprioceptive afferents and those involving Renshaw cells. Next, we propose that the overall homeostatic response of the nervous system is aimed at maintaining force output. Thus motoneuron degeneration would lead to an increase in inputs to motoneurons, and, because of the pattern of neuronal degeneration, would result in an imbalance in local microcircuit activity that would overwhelm initial homeostatic responses. We suggest that this activity would ultimately lead to excitotoxicity of motoneurons, which would hasten the progression of disease. Finally, we propose that should this be the case, new therapies targeted toward microcircuit dysfunction could slow the course of ALS.
Project description:The most common inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease affecting adult motoneurons, is caused by dominant mutations in the ubiquitously expressed Cu(2+)/Zn(2+) superoxide dismutase (SOD1). Recent studies suggest that glia may contribute to motoneuron injury in animal models of familial ALS. To determine whether the expression of mutant SOD1 (mSOD1(G93A)) in CNS microglia contributes to motoneuron injury, PU.1(-/-) mice that are unable to develop myeloid and lymphoid cells received bone marrow transplants resulting in donor-derived microglia. Donor-derived microglia from mice overexpressing mSOD1(G93A), an animal model of familial ALS, transplanted into PU.1(-/-) mice could not induce weakness, motoneuron injury, or an ALS-like disease. To determine whether expression of mSOD1(G93A) in motoneurons and astroglia, as well as microglia, was required to produce motoneuron disease, PU.1(-/-) mice were bred with mSOD1(G93A) mice. In mSOD1(G93A)/PU.1(-/-) mice, wild-type donor-derived microglia slowed motoneuron loss and prolonged disease duration and survival when compared with mice receiving mSOD1(G93A) expressing cells or mSOD1(G93A) mice. In vitro studies confirmed that wild-type microglia were less neurotoxic than similarly cultured mSOD1(G93A) microglia. Compared with wild-type microglia, mSOD1(G93A) microglia produced and released more superoxide and nitrite+nitrate, and induced more neuronal death. These data demonstrate that the expression of mSOD1(G93A) results in activated and neurotoxic microglia, and suggests that the lack of mSOD1(G93A) expression in microglia may contribute to motoneuron protection. This study confirms the importance of microglia as a double-edged sword, and focuses on the importance of targeting microglia to minimize cytotoxicity and maximize neuroprotection in neurodegenerative diseases.