Modulation by DREADD reveals the therapeutic effect of human iPSC-derived neuronal activity on functional recovery after spinal cord injury.
ABSTRACT: Transplantation of neural stem/progenitor cells (NS/PCs) derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) is considered to be a promising therapy for spinal cord injury (SCI) and will soon be translated to the clinical phase. However, how grafted neuronal activity influences functional recovery has not been fully elucidated. Here, we show the locomotor functional changes caused by inhibiting the neuronal activity of grafted cells using a designer receptor exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADD). In vitro analyses of inhibitory DREADD (hM4Di)-expressing cells demonstrated the precise inhibition of neuronal activity via administration of clozapine N-oxide. This inhibition led to a significant decrease in locomotor function in SCI mice with cell transplantation, which was exclusively observed following the maturation of grafted neurons. Furthermore, trans-synaptic tracing revealed the integration of graft neurons into the host motor circuitry. These results highlight the significance of engrafting functionally competent neurons by hiPSC-NS/PC transplantation for sufficient recovery from SCI.
Project description:Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs) are a popular chemogenetic technology for manipulation of neuronal activity in uninstrumented awake animals with potential for human applications as well. The prototypical DREADD agonist clozapine N-oxide (CNO) lacks brain entry and converts to clozapine, making it difficult to apply in basic and translational applications. Here we report the development of two novel DREADD agonists, JHU37152 and JHU37160, and the first dedicated 18F positron emission tomography (PET) DREADD radiotracer, [18F]JHU37107. We show that JHU37152 and JHU37160 exhibit high in vivo DREADD potency. [18F]JHU37107 combined with PET allows for DREADD detection in locally-targeted neurons, and at their long-range projections, enabling noninvasive and longitudinal neuronal projection mapping.
Project description:The chemogenetic technology DREADD (designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs) is widely used for remote manipulation of neuronal activity in freely moving animals. DREADD technology posits the use of "designer receptors," which are exclusively activated by the "designer drug" clozapine N-oxide (CNO). Nevertheless, the in vivo mechanism of action of CNO at DREADDs has never been confirmed. CNO does not enter the brain after systemic drug injections and shows low affinity for DREADDs. Clozapine, to which CNO rapidly converts in vivo, shows high DREADD affinity and potency. Upon systemic CNO injections, converted clozapine readily enters the brain and occupies central nervous system-expressed DREADDs, whereas systemic subthreshold clozapine injections induce preferential DREADD-mediated behaviors.
Project description:Spinal cord injury (SCI) frequently provokes serious detrimental outcomes because neuronal regeneration is limited in the central nervous system (CNS). Thus, the creation of a permissive environment for transplantation therapy with neural stem/progenitor cells (NS/PCs) is a promising strategy to replace lost neuronal cells, promote repair, and stimulate functional plasticity after SCI. Macrophages are important SCI-associated inflammatory cells and a major source of secreted factors that modify the lesion milieu. Here, we used conditional medium (CM) from bone marrow-derived M1 or M2 polarized macrophages to culture murine NS/PCs. The NS/PCs showed enhanced astrocytic versus neuronal/oligodendrocytic differentiation in the presence of M1- versus M2-CM. Similarly, cotransplantation of NS/PCs with M1 and M2 macrophages into intact or injured murine spinal cord increased the number of engrafted NS/PC-derived astrocytes and neurons/oligodendrocytes, respectively. Furthermore, when cotransplantated with M2 macrophages, the NS/PC-derived neurons integrated into the local circuitry and enhanced locomotor recovery following SCI. Interesting, engrafted M1 macrophages promoted long-distance rostral migration of NS/PC-derived cells in a chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 4 (CXCR4)-dependent manner, while engrafted M2 macrophages resulted in limited cell migration of NS/PC-derived cells. Altogether, these findings suggest that the cotransplantation of NS/PCs together with polarized macrophages could constitute a promising therapeutic approach for SCI repair.
Project description:Direct lineage reprogramming through genetic-based strategies enables the conversion of differentiated somatic cells into functional neurons and distinct neuronal subtypes. Induced dopaminergic (iDA) neurons can be generated by direct conversion of skin fibroblasts; however, their in vivo phenotypic and functional properties remain incompletely understood, leaving their impact on Parkinson's disease (PD) cell therapy and modeling uncertain. Here, we determined that iDA neurons retain a transgene-independent stable phenotype in culture and in animal models. Furthermore, transplanted iDA neurons functionally integrated into host neuronal tissue, exhibiting electrically excitable membranes, synaptic currents, dopamine release, and substantial reduction of motor symptoms in a PD animal model. Neuronal cell replacement approaches will benefit from a system that allows the activity of transplanted neurons to be controlled remotely and enables modulation depending on the physiological needs of the recipient; therefore, we adapted a DREADD (designer receptor exclusively activated by designer drug) technology for remote and real-time control of grafted iDA neuronal activity in living animals. Remote DREADD-dependent iDA neuron activation markedly enhanced the beneficial effects in transplanted PD animals. These data suggest that iDA neurons have therapeutic potential as a cell replacement approach for PD and highlight the applicability of pharmacogenetics for enhancing cellular signaling in reprogrammed cell-based approaches.
Project description:Most studies targeting chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) have concluded that neural stem/progenitor cell (NS/PC) transplantation exerts only a subclinical recovery; this in contrast to its remarkable effect on acute and subacute SCI. To determine whether the addition of rehabilitative intervention enhances the effect of NS/PC transplantation for chronic SCI, we used thoracic SCI mouse models to compare manifestations secondary to both transplantation and treadmill training, and the two therapies combined, with a control group. Significant locomotor recovery in comparison with the control group was only achieved in the combined therapy group. Further investigation revealed that NS/PC transplantation improved spinal conductivity and central pattern generator activity, and that treadmill training promoted the appropriate inhibitory motor control. The combined therapy enhanced these independent effects of each single therapy, and facilitated neuronal differentiation of transplanted cells and maturation of central pattern generator activity synergistically. Our data suggest that rehabilitative treatment represents a therapeutic option for locomotor recovery after NS/PC transplantation, even in chronic SCI.
Project description:The pontine nucleus locus coeruleus (LC) is the primary source of noradrenergic (NE) projections to the brain and is important for working memory, attention, and cognitive flexibility. Individuals with Down syndrome (DS) develop Alzheimer's disease (AD) with high penetrance and often exhibit working memory deficits coupled with degeneration of LC-NE neurons early in the progression of AD pathology. Designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) are chemogenetic tools that allow targeted manipulation of discrete neuronal populations in the brain without the confounds of off-target effects. We utilized male Ts65Dn mice (a mouse model for DS), and male normosomic (NS) controls to examine the effects of inhibitory DREADDs delivered via an AAV vector under translational control of the synthetic PRSx8, dopamine ? hydroxylase (D?H) promoter. This chemogenetic tool allowed LC inhibition upon administration of the inert DREADD ligand, clozapine-N-oxide (CNO). DREADD-mediated LC inhibition impaired performance in a novel object recognition task and reversal learning in a spatial task. DREADD-mediated LC inhibition gave rise to an elevation of ?-adrenoreceptors both in NS and in Ts65Dn mice. Further, microglial markers showed that the inhibitory DREADD stimulation led to increased microglial activation in the hippocampus in Ts65Dn but not in NS mice. These findings strongly suggest that LC signaling is important for intact memory and learning in Ts65Dn mice and disruption of these neurons leads to increased inflammation and dysregulation of adrenergic receptors.
Project description:Designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) are an advanced experimental tool that could potentially provide a novel approach to pain management. In particular, expression of an inhibitory (Gi-coupled) DREADD in nociceptors might enable ligand-dependent analgesia. To test this possibility, TRPV1-cre mice were used to restrict expression of Gi-DREADDs to predominantly C-fibers. Whereas baseline heat thresholds in both male and female mice expressing Gi-DREADD were normal, 1 mg/kg clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) produced a significant 3 h increase in heat threshold that returned to baseline by 5 h after injection. Consistent with these behavioral results, CNO decreased action potential firing in isolated sensory neurons from Gi-DREADD mice. Unexpectedly, however, the expression of Gi-DREADD in sensory neurons caused significant changes in voltage-gated Ca2+ and Na+ currents in the absence of CNO, as well as an increase in Na+ channel (NaV1.7) expression. Furthermore, CNO-independent excitatory and inhibitory second-messenger signaling was also altered in these mice, which was associated with a decrease in the analgesic effect of endogenous inhibitory G-protein-coupled receptor activation. These results highlight the potential of this exciting technology, but also its limitations, and that it is essential to identify the underlying mechanisms for any observed behavioral phenotypes.DREADD technology is a powerful tool enabling manipulation of activity and/or transmitter release from targeted cell populations. The purpose of this study was to determine whether inhibitory DREADDs in nociceptive afferents could be used to produce analgesia, and if so, how. DREADD activation produced a ligand-dependent analgesia to heat in vivo and a decrease in neuronal firing at the single-cell level. However, we observed that expression of Gi-DREADD also causes ligand-independent changes in ion channel activity and second-messenger signaling. These findings highlight both the potential and the limitations of this exciting technology as well as the necessity to identify the mechanisms underlying any observed phenotype.
Project description:Transplantation of DA neurons is actively pursued as a restorative therapy in Parkinson's disease (PD). Pioneering clinical trials using transplants of fetal DA neuroblasts have given promising results, although a number of patients have developed graft-induced dyskinesias (GIDs), and the mechanism underlying this troublesome side effect is still unknown. Here we have used a new model where the activity of the transplanted DA neurons can be selectively modulated using a bimodal chemogenetic (DREADD) approach, allowing either enhancement or reduction of the therapeutic effect. We show that exclusive activation of a cAMP-linked (Gs-coupled) DREADD or serotonin 5-HT6 receptor, located on the grafted DA neurons, is sufficient to induce GIDs. These findings establish a mechanistic link between the 5-HT6 receptor, intracellular cAMP, and GIDs in transplanted PD patients. This effect is thought to be mediated through counteraction of the D2 autoreceptor feedback inhibition, resulting in a dysplastic DA release from the transplant.
Project description:Here, we describe a newly generated transgenic mouse in which the Gs DREADD (rM3Ds), an engineered G protein-coupled receptor, is selectively expressed in striatopallidal medium spiny neurons (MSNs). We first show that in vitro, rM3Ds can couple to Gαolf and induce cAMP accumulation in cultured neurons and HEK-T cells. The rM3Ds was then selectively and stably expressed in striatopallidal neurons by creating a transgenic mouse in which an adenosine2A (adora2a) receptor-containing bacterial artificial chromosome was employed to drive rM3Ds expression. In the adora2A-rM3Ds mouse, activation of rM3Ds by clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) induces DARPP-32 phosphorylation, consistent with the known consequence of activation of endogenous striatal Gαs-coupled GPCRs. We then tested whether CNO administration would produce behavioral responses associated with striatopallidal Gs signaling and in this regard CNO dose-dependently decreases spontaneous locomotor activity and inhibits novelty induced locomotor activity. Last, we show that CNO prevented behavioral sensitization to amphetamine and increased AMPAR/NMDAR ratios in transgene-expressing neurons of the nucleus accumbens shell. These studies demonstrate the utility of adora2a-rM3Ds transgenic mice for the selective and noninvasive modulation of Gαs signaling in specific neuronal populations in vivo.This unique tool provides a new resource for elucidating the roles of striatopallidal MSN Gαs signaling in other neurobehavioral contexts.