MTOR Suppresses Macroautophagy During Striatal Postnatal Development and Is Hyperactive in Mouse Models of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
ABSTRACT: Macroautophagy (hereafter referred to as autophagy) plays a critical role in neuronal function related to development and degeneration. Here, we investigated whether autophagy is developmentally regulated in the striatum, a brain region implicated in neurodevelopmental disease. We demonstrate that autophagic flux is suppressed during striatal postnatal development, reaching adult levels around postnatal day 28 (P28). We also find that mTOR signaling, a key regulator of autophagy, increases during the same developmental period. We further show that mTOR signaling is responsible for suppressing autophagy, via regulation of Beclin-1 and VPS34 activity. Finally, we discover that autophagy is downregulated during late striatal postnatal development (P28) in mice with in utero exposure to valproic acid (VPA), an established mouse model of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). VPA-exposed mice also display deficits in striatal neurotransmission and social behavior. Correction of hyperactive mTOR signaling in VPA-exposed mice restores social behavior. These results demonstrate that neurons coopt metabolic signaling cascades to developmentally regulate autophagy and provide additional evidence that mTOR-dependent signaling pathways represent pathogenic signaling cascades in ASD mouse models that are active during specific postnatal windows.
Project description:The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway plays a crucial role in cell metabolism, growth, and proliferation. The overactivation of mTOR has been implicated in the pathogenesis of syndromic autism spectrum disorder (ASD), such as tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). Treatment with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin improved social interaction deficits in mouse models of TSC. Prenatal exposure to valproic acid (VPA) increases the incidence of ASD. Rodent pups that are exposed to VPA in utero have been used as an animal model of ASD. Activation of the mTOR signaling pathway was recently observed in rodents that were exposed to VPA in utero, and rapamycin ameliorated social interaction deficits. The present study investigated the effect of rapamycin on social interaction deficits in both adolescence and adulthood, and gene expressions in mice that were exposed to VPA in utero. We subcutaneously injected 600?mg/kg VPA in pregnant mice on gestational day 12.5 and used the pups as a model of ASD. The pups were intraperitoneally injected with rapamycin or an equal volume of vehicle once daily for 2 consecutive days. The social interaction test was conducted in the offspring after the last rapamycin administration at 5-6?weeks of ages (adolescence) or 10-11?weeks of age (adulthood). Whole brains were collected after the social interaction test in the adulthood, and microarray and Western blot analyses were performed. Mice that were exposed to VPA and treated with vehicle exhibited a decrease in social interaction compared with control mice that were treated with vehicle. Rapamycin treatment in VPA-exposed mice improved social deficits. Mice that were exposed to VPA and treated with vehicle exhibited the aberrant expression of genes in the mTOR signaling pathway, and rapamycin treatment recovered changes in the expression of some genes, including Fyb and A330094K24Rik. Rapamycin treatment suppressed S6 phosphorylation in VPA-exposed mice. Aberrant gene expression was associated with social interaction deficits in VPA-exposed mice. Rapamycin may be an effective treatment for non-syndromic ASD in adolescent and adult patients who present impairments in the mTOR signaling pathway.
Project description:Developmental alterations of excitatory synapses are implicated in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Here, we report increased dendritic spine density with reduced developmental spine pruning in layer V pyramidal neurons in postmortem ASD temporal lobe. These spine deficits correlate with hyperactivated mTOR and impaired autophagy. In Tsc2 ± ASD mice where mTOR is constitutively overactive, we observed postnatal spine pruning defects, blockade of autophagy, and ASD-like social behaviors. The mTOR inhibitor rapamycin corrected ASD-like behaviors and spine pruning defects in Tsc2 ± mice, but not in Atg7(CKO) neuronal autophagy-deficient mice or Tsc2 ± :Atg7(CKO) double mutants. Neuronal autophagy furthermore enabled spine elimination with no effects on spine formation. Our findings suggest that mTOR-regulated autophagy is required for developmental spine pruning, and activation of neuronal autophagy corrects synaptic pathology and social behavior deficits in ASD models with hyperactivated mTOR.
Project description:Neural circuits are formed and refined during childhood, including via critical changes in neuronal excitability. Here, we investigated the ontogeny of striatal intrinsic excitability. We found that dopamine neurotransmission increases from the first to the third postnatal week in mice and precedes the reduction in spiny projection neuron (SPN) intrinsic excitability during the fourth postnatal week. In mice developmentally deficient for striatal dopamine, direct pathway D1-SPNs failed to undergo maturation of excitability past P18 and maintained hyperexcitability into adulthood. We found that the absence of D1-SPN maturation was due to altered phosphatidylinositol 4,5-biphosphate dynamics and a consequent lack of normal ontogenetic increases in Kir2 currents. Dopamine replacement corrected these deficits in SPN excitability when provided from birth or during a specific period of juvenile development (P18-P28), but not during adulthood. These results identify a sensitive period of dopamine-dependent striatal maturation, with implications for the pathophysiology and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders.
Project description:Autophagy is closely related to tumor cell sensitivity to anticancer drugs. The HDAC (histone deacetylase) inhibitor valproic acid (VPA) interacted synergistically with chemotherapeutic agents to trigger lymphoma cell autophagy, which resulted from activation of AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) and inhibition of downstream MTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin [serine/threonine kinase]) signaling. In an HDAC-independent manner, VPA potentiated the effect of doxorubicin on lymphoma cell autophagy via reduction of cellular inositol 1,4,5 trisphosphate (IP3), blockade of calcium into mitochondria and modulation of PRKAA1/2-MTOR cascade. In murine xenograft models established with subcutaneous injection of lymphoma cells, dual treatment of VPA and doxorubicin initiated IP3-mediated calcium depletion and PRKAA1/2 activation, induced in situ autophagy and efficiently retarded tumor growth. Aberrant genes involving mitochondrial calcium transfer were frequently observed in primary tumors of lymphoma patients. Collectively, these findings suggested an HDAC-independent chemosensitizing activity of VPA and provided an insight into the clinical application of targeting autophagy in the treatment of lymphoma.
Project description:The amygdala controls socioemotional behavior and has consistently been implicated in the etiology of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Precocious amygdala development is commonly reported in ASD youth with the degree of overgrowth positively correlated to the severity of ASD symptoms. Prenatal exposure to VPA leads to an ASD phenotype in both humans and rats and has become a commonly used tool to model the complexity of ASD symptoms in the laboratory. Here, we examined abnormalities in gene expression in the amygdala and socioemotional behavior across development in the valproic acid (VPA) rat model of ASD.Rat dams received oral gavage of VPA (500 mg/kg) or saline daily between E11 and 13. Socioemotional behavior was tracked across development in both sexes. RNA sequencing and proteomics were performed on amygdala samples from male rats across development.Effects of VPA on time spent in social proximity and anxiety-like behavior were sex dependent, with social abnormalities presenting in males and heightened anxiety in females. Across time VPA stunted developmental and immune, but enhanced cellular death and disorder, pathways in the amygdala relative to saline controls. At postnatal day 10, gene pathways involved in nervous system and cellular development displayed predicted activations in prenatally exposed VPA amygdala samples. By juvenile age, however, transcriptomic and proteomic pathways displayed reductions in cellular growth and neural development. Alterations in immune pathways, calcium signaling, Rho GTPases, and protein kinase A signaling were also observed.As behavioral, developmental, and genomic alterations are similar to those reported in ASD, these results lend support to prenatal exposure to VPA as a useful tool for understanding how developmental insults to molecular pathways in the amygdala give rise to ASD-related syndromes.
Project description:The histone-deacetylase inhibitor activity of valproic acid (VPA) was discovered after VPA's adoption as an anticonvulsant. This generated speculation for VPA's potential to increase the expression of neuroprotective genes. Clinical trials for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) are currently active, testing VPA's potential to reduce photoreceptor loss; however, we lack information regarding the effects of VPA on available mammalian models of retinal degeneration, nor do we know if retinal gene expression is perturbed by VPA in a predictable way. Thus, we examined the effects of systemic VPA on neurotrophic factor and Nrl-related gene expression in the mouse retina and compared VPA's effects on the rate of photoreceptor loss in two strains of mice, Pde6b(rd1/rd1) and Pde6b(rd10/rd10) .The expression of Bdnf, Gdnf, Cntf, and Fgf2 was measured by quantitative PCR after single and multiple doses of VPA (intraperitoneal) in wild-type and Pde6b(rd1/rd1) mice. Pde6b(rd1/rd1) mice were treated with daily doses of VPA during the period of rapid photoreceptor loss. Pde6b(rd10/rd10) mice were also treated with systemic VPA to compare in a partial loss-of-function model. Retinal morphology was assessed by virtual microscopy or spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). Full-field and focal electroretinography (ERG) analysis were employed with Pde6b(rd10/rd10) mice to measure retinal function.In wild-type postnatal mice, a single VPA dose increased the expression of Bdnf and Gdnf in the neural retina after 18 h, while the expression of Cntf was reduced by 70%. Daily dosing of wild-type mice from postnatal day P17 to P28 resulted in smaller increases in Bdnf and Gdnf expression, normal Cntf expression, and reduced Fgf2 expression (25%). Nrl gene expression was decreased by 50%, while Crx gene expression was not affected. Rod-specific expression of Mef2c and Nr2e3 was decreased substantially by VPA treatment, while Rhodopsin and Pde6b gene expression was normal at P28. Daily injections with VPA (P9-P21) dramatically slowed the loss of rod photoreceptors in Pde6b(rd1/rd1) mice. At age P21, VPA-treated mice had several extra rows of rod photoreceptor nuclei compared to PBS-injected littermates. Dosing started later (P14) or dosing every second day also rescued photoreceptors. In contrast, systemic VPA treatment of Pde6b(rd10/rd10) mice (P17-P28) reduced visual function that correlated with a slight increase in photoreceptor loss. Treating Pde6b(rd10/rd10) mice earlier (P9-P21) also failed to rescue photoreceptors. Treating wild-type mice earlier (P9-P21) reduced the number of photoreceptors in VPA-treated mice by 20% compared to PBS-treated animals.A single systemic dose of VPA can change retinal neurotrophic factor and rod-specific gene expression in the immature retina. Daily VPA treatment from P17 to P28 can also alter gene expression in the mature neural retina. While daily treatment with VPA could significantly reduce photoreceptor loss in the rd1 model, VPA treatment slightly accelerated photoreceptor loss in the rd10 model. The apparent rescue of photoreceptors in the rd1 model was not the result of producing more photoreceptors before degeneration. In fact, daily systemic VPA was toxic to wild-type photoreceptors when started at P9. However, the effective treatment period for Pde6b(rd1/rd1) mice (P9-P21) has significant overlap with the photoreceptor maturation period, which complicates the use of the rd1 model for testing of VPA's efficacy. In contrast, VPA treatment started after P17 did not cause photoreceptor loss in wild-type mice. Thus, the acceleration of photoreceptor loss in the rd10 model may be more relevant where both photoreceptor loss and VPA treatment (P17-P28) started when the central retina was mature.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Burkitt leukemia/lymphoma is a major subtype of aggressive B-cell lymphoma. Biological targeted therapies on this disease need to be further investigated and may help to improve the clinical outcome of the patients.<h4>Methods</h4>This study examined the anti-tumor activity of the histone deacetylases (HDAC) inhibitor valproic acid (VPA) combined with the mammalian target of rapamycin (MTOR) inhibitor temsirolimus in Burkitt leukemia/lymphoma cell lines, as well as in primary tumor cells and a murine xenograft model.<h4>Results</h4>Co-treatment of VPA and temsirolimus synergistically inhibited the tumor cell growth and triggered the autophagic cell death, with a significant inhibition of MTOR signaling and MYC oncoprotein. Functioned as a class I HDAC inhibitor, VPA potentiated the effect of temsirolimus on autophagy through inhibiting HDAC1. Molecular silencing of HDAC1 using small interfering RNA (siRNA) attenuated VPA-mediated regulation of CDKN1A, CDKN1B and LC3-I/II, regression of tumor cell growth and induction of autophagy. Meanwhile, VPA counteracted temsirolimus-induced AKT activation via HDAC3 inhibition. HDAC3 siRNA abrogated the ability of VPA to modulate AKT phosphorylation, to suppress tumor cell growth and to induce autophagy. Strong antitumor effect was also observed on primary tumor cells while sparing normal hematopoiesis ex vivo. In a murine xenograft model established with subcutaneous injection of Namalwa cells, dual treatment efficiently blocked tumor growth, inhibited MYC and induced in situ autophagy.<h4>Conclusions</h4>These findings confirmed the synergistic effect of the HDAC and MTOR inhibitors on Burkitt leukemia/lymphoma, and provided an insight into clinical application of targeting autophagy in treating MYC-associated lymphoid malignancies.
Project description:Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition whose primary features include social communication and interaction impairments with restricted or repetitive motor movements. No approved treatment for the core symptoms is available and considerable research efforts aim at identifying effective therapeutic strategies. Emerging evidence suggests that altered endocannabinoid signaling and immune dysfunction might contribute to ASD pathogenesis. In this scenario, phytocannabinoids could hold great pharmacological potential due to their combined capacities to act either directly or indirectly on components of the endocannabinoid system and to modulate immune functions. Among all plant-cannabinoids, the phytocannabinoid cannabidivarin (CBDV) was recently shown to reduce motor impairments and cognitive deficits in animal models of Rett syndrome, a condition showing some degree of overlap with autism, raising the possibility that CBDV might have therapeutic potential in ASD. Here, we investigated the ability of CBDV treatment to reverse or prevent ASD-like behaviors in male rats prenatally exposed to valproic acid (VPA; 500 mg/kg i.p.; gestation day 12.5). The offspring received CBDV according to two different protocols: symptomatic (0.2/2/20/100 mg/kg i.p.; postnatal days 34-58) and preventative (2/20 mg/kg i.p.; postnatal days 19-32). The major efficacy of CBDV was observed at the dose of 20 mg/kg for both treatment schedules. CBDV in symptomatic rats recovered social impairments, social novelty preference, short-term memory deficits, repetitive behaviors and hyperlocomotion whereas preventative treatment reduced sociability and social novelty deficits, short-term memory impairments and hyperlocomotion, without affecting stereotypies. As dysregulations in the endocannabinoid system and neuroinflammatory markers contribute to the development of some ASD phenotypes in the VPA model, neurochemical studies were performed after symptomatic treatment to investigate possible CBDV's effects on the endocannabinoid system, inflammatory markers and microglia activation in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Prenatal VPA exposure increased CB1 receptor, FAAH and MAGL levels, enhanced GFAP, CD11b, and TNF? levels and triggered microglia activation restricted to the hippocampus. All these alterations were restored after CBDV treatment. These data provide preclinical evidence in support of the ability of CBDV to ameliorate behavioral abnormalities resembling core and associated symptoms of ASD. At the neurochemical level, symptomatic CBDV restores hippocampal endocannabinoid signaling and neuroinflammation induced by prenatal VPA exposure.
Project description:Autistic spectral disorder (ASD) is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disease that affects multiple brain regions. Both clinical and animal studies have revealed the possible involvement of the cerebellum in ASD pathology. In this study, we generated a rodent ASD model through a single prenatal administration of valproic acid (VPA) into pregnant mice, followed by cerebellar morphological and functional studies of the offspring. Behavioral studies showed that VPA exposure led to retardation of critical motor reflexes in juveniles and impaired learning in a tone-conditioned complex motor task in adults. These behavioral phenotypes were associated with premature migration and excess apoptosis of the granular cell (GC) precursor in the cerebellar cortex during the early postnatal period, and the decreased cell density and impaired dendritic arborization of the Purkinje neurons. On acute cerebellar slices, suppressed synaptic transmission of the Purkinje cells were reported in the VPA-treated mice. In summary, converging evidence from anatomical, electrophysiological and behavioral abnormalities in the VPA-treated mice suggest cerebellar pathology in ASD and indicate the potential values of motor dysfunction in the early diagnosis of ASD.
Project description:Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are pervasive neurodevelopmental conditions detected during childhood when delayed language onset and social deficits are observed. Children diagnosed with ASD frequently display sensorimotor deficits associated with the cerebellum, suggesting a dysfunction of synaptic circuits. Astroglia are part of the tripartite synapses and <i>postmortem</i> studies reported an increased expression of the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in the cerebellum of ASD patients. Astroglia respond to neuronal activity with calcium transients that propagate to neighboring cells, resulting in a functional response known as a calcium wave. This form of intercellular signaling is implicated in proliferation, migration, and differentiation of neural precursors. Prenatal exposure to valproate (VPA) is a preclinical model of ASD in which premature migration and excess of apoptosis occur in the internal granular layer (IGL) of the cerebellum during the early postnatal period. In this study we tested calcium wave propagation in the IGL of mice prenatally exposed to VPA. Sensorimotor deficits were observed and IGL depolarization evoked a calcium wave with astrocyte recruitment. The calcium wave propagation, initial cell recruitment, and mean amplitude of the calcium transients increased significantly in VPA-exposed mice compared to the control group. Astrocyte recruitment was significantly increased in the VPA model, but the mean amplitude of the calcium transients was unchanged. Western blot and histological studies revealed an increased expression of GFAP, higher astroglial density and augmented morphological complexity. We conclude that the functional signature of the IGL is remarkably augmented in the preclinical model of autism.