Project description:Purpose: The purpose of this study was to use RNA-seq to investigate the molecular mechanisms of damage in the early stages of the response to axonal injury, before the onset of RGC death. Methods: 12-week-old wild-type (WT) mice were used in this study. The experiment group underwent an optic nerve crush (ONC) procedure to induce axonal injury in the right eye, and the control group underwent a sham procedure. Retinal mRNA profiles were generated by deep sequencing, in triplicate, using IlluminaHiseq2000. The sequence reads were analyzed by CLC genomics workbench and R software. qRT–PCR validation was performed using TaqMan assays. Results: Using an optimized data analysis workflow, we mapped about 66 million sequence reads per sample to the mouse genome (build mm9). Differential gene expression analysis showed that endoplasmic reticulum stress-related genes and antioxidative response-related genes have been shown to be significantly upregulated 2 days after ONC. Conclusions: Our study represents the first detailed analysis of retinal transcriptomes in the early stages after axonal injury. Our results indicated that ER stress plays a key role under these conditions. Furthermore, the antioxidative defense and immune responses occurred concurrently in the early stages after axonal injury. We believe that our study will lead to a better understanding of and insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying RGC death after axonal injury. Retinal mRNA profiles of 12 week-old wild type (WT) after ONC or sham were generated by deep sequencing, in triplicate, using Illumina Hiseq2000.
Project description:Glaucoma is an ocular disease characterized by progressive retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death caused by axonal injury. However, the underlying mechanisms involved in RGC death remain unclear. In this study, we investigated changes in the transcriptome profile following axonal injury in mice (C57BL/6) with RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) technology. The experiment group underwent an optic nerve crush (ONC) procedure to induce axonal injury in the right eye, and the control group underwent a sham procedure. Two days later, we extracted the retinas and performed RNA-seq and a pathway analysis. We identified 177 differentially expressed genes with RNA-seq, notably the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-related genes Atf3, Atf4, Atf5, Chac1, Chop, Egr1 and Trb3, which were significantly upregulated. The pathway analysis revealed that ATF4 was the most significant upstream regulator. The antioxidative response-related genes Hmox1 and Srxn1, as well as the immune response-related genes C1qa, C1qb and C1qc, were also significantly upregulated. To our knowledge, this is the first reported RNA-seq investigation of the retinal transcriptome and molecular pathways in the early stages after axonal injury. Our results indicated that ER stress plays a key role under these conditions. Furthermore, the antioxidative defense and immune responses occurred concurrently in the early stages after axonal injury. We believe that our study will lead to a better understanding of and insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying RGC death after axonal injury.
Project description:Tau is an axon-enriched protein that binds to and stabilizes microtubules, and hence plays a crucial role in neuronal function. In Alzheimer's disease (AD), pathological tau accumulation correlates with cognitive decline. Substantial visual deficits are found in individuals affected by AD including a preferential loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), the neurons that convey visual information from the retina to the brain. At present, however, the mechanisms that underlie vision changes in these patients are poorly understood. Here, we asked whether tau plays a role in early retinal pathology and neuronal dysfunction in AD.Alterations in tau protein and gene expression, phosphorylation, and localization were investigated by western blots, qPCR, and immunohistochemistry in the retina and visual pathways of triple transgenic mice (3xTg) harboring mutations in the genes encoding presenilin 1 (PS1M146 V), amyloid precursor protein (APPSwe), and tau (MAPTP301L). Anterograde axonal transport was assessed by intraocular injection of the cholera toxin beta subunit followed by quantification of tracer accumulation in the contralateral superior colliculus. RGC survival was analyzed on whole-mounted retinas using cell-specific markers. Reduction of tau expression was achieved following intravitreal injection of targeted siRNA.Our data demonstrate an age-related increase in endogenous retinal tau characterized by epitope-specific hypo- and hyper-phosphorylation in 3xTg mice. Retinal tau accumulation was observed as early as three months of age, prior to the reported onset of behavioral deficits, and preceded tau aggregation in the brain. Intriguingly, tau build up occurred in RGC soma and dendrites, while tau in RGC axons in the optic nerve was depleted. Tau phosphorylation changes and missorting correlated with substantial defects in anterograde axonal transport that preceded RGC death. Importantly, targeted siRNA-mediated knockdown of endogenous tau improved anterograde transport along RGC axons.Our study reveals profound tau pathology in the visual system leading to early retinal neuron damage in a mouse model of AD. Importantly, we show that tau accumulation promotes anterograde axonal transport impairment in vivo, and identify this response as an early feature of neuronal dysfunction that precedes cell death in the AD retina. These findings provide the first proof-of-concept that a global strategy to reduce tau accumulation is beneficial to improve axonal transport and mitigate functional deficits in AD and tauopathies.
Project description:In glaucoma, although axonal injury drives retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death, little is known about the underlying pathomechanisms. To provide new mechanistic insights and identify new biomarkers, we combined latest non-targeting metabolomics analyses to profile altered metabolites in the mouse whole retina 2, 4, and 7 days after optic nerve crush (NC). Ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography Fourier transform mass spectrometry covering wide spectrum of metabolites in combination highlighted 30 metabolites that changed its concentration after NC. The analysis displayed similar changes for purine nucleotide and glutathione as reported previously in another animal model of axonal injury and detected multiple metabolites that increased after the injury. After studying the specificity of the identified metabolites to RGCs in histological sections using imaging mass spectrometry, two metabolites, i.e., L-acetylcarnitine and phosphatidylcholine were increased not only preceding the peak of RGC death in the whole retina but also at the RGC layer (2.3-fold and 1.2-fold, respectively). These phospholipids propose novel mechanisms of RGC death and may serve as early biomarkers of axonal injury. The combinatory metabolomics analyses promise to illuminate pathomechanisms, reveal biomarkers, and allow the discovery of new therapeutic targets of glaucoma.
Project description:Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterized by alterations in the contour of the optic nerve head (ONH), with corresponding visual field defects and progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). This progressive RGC death is considered to originate in axonal injury caused by compression of the axon bundles in the ONH. However, the molecular pathomechanisms of axonal injury-induced RGC death are not yet well understood. Here, we used RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to examine transcriptome changes in rat retinas 2 days after optic nerve transection (ONT), and then used computational techniques to predict the resulting alterations in the transcriptional regulatory network. RNA-seq revealed 267 differentially expressed genes after ONT, 218 of which were annotated and 49 unannotated. We also identified differentially expressed transcripts, including potentially novel isoforms. An in silico pathway analysis predicted that CREB1 was the most significant upstream regulator. Thus, this study identified genes and pathways that may be involved in the pathomechanisms of axonal injury. We believe that our data should serve as a valuable resource to understand the molecular processes that define axonal injury-driven RGC death and to discover novel therapeutic targets for glaucoma.
Project description:Dendritic defects occur in neurodegenerative diseases accompanied by axonopathy, yet the mechanisms that regulate these pathologic changes are poorly understood. Using Thy1-YFPH mice subjected to optic nerve axotomy, we demonstrate early retraction of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) dendrites and selective loss of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activity, which precede soma loss. Axonal injury triggered rapid upregulation of the stress-induced protein REDD2 (regulated in development and DNA damage response 2), a potent inhibitor of mTOR. Short interfering RNA-mediated REDD2 knockdown restored mTOR activity and rescued dendritic length, area and branch complexity in a rapamycin-dependent manner. Whole-cell recordings demonstrated that REDD2 depletion leading to mTOR activation in RGCs restored their light response properties. Lastly, we show that REDD2-dependent mTOR activity extended RGC survival following axonal damage. These results indicate that injury-induced stress leads to REDD2 upregulation, mTOR inhibition and dendrite pathology causing neuronal dysfunction and subsequent cell death.
Project description:Glaucoma is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the apoptotic death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). The primary insult to RGCs in glaucoma is thought to occur to their axons as they exit the eye in the optic nerve head. However, pathological signaling pathways that exert central roles in triggering RGC death following axonal injury remain unidentified. It is likely that the first changes to occur following axonal injury are signal relay events that transduce the injury signal from the axon to the cell body. Here we focus on the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK1-3) family, a signaling pathway implicated in axonal injury signaling and neurodegenerative apoptosis, and likely to function as a central node in axonal injury-induced RGC death. We show that JNK signaling is activated immediately after axonal injury in RGC axons at the site of injury. Following its early activation, sustained JNK signaling is observed in axonally-injured RGCs in the form of JUN phosphorylation and upregulation. Using mice lacking specific Jnk isoforms, we show that Jnk2 and Jnk3 are the isoforms activated in injured axons. Combined deficiency of Jnk2 and Jnk3 provides robust long-term protection against axonal injury-induced RGC death and prevents downregulation of the RGC marker, BRN3B, and phosphorylation of JUN. Finally, using Jun deficient mice, we show that JUN-dependent pathways are important for axonal injury-induced RGC death. Together these data demonstrate that JNK signaling is the major early pathway triggering RGC death after axonal injury and may directly link axon injury to transcriptional activity that controls RGC death.
Project description:BACKGROUND: We have used optic nerve injury as a model to study early signaling events in neuronal tissue following axonal injury. Optic nerve injury results in the selective death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). The time course of cell death takes place over a period of days with the earliest detection of RGC death at about 48 hr post injury. We hypothesized that in the period immediately following axonal injury, there are changes in the soma that signal surrounding glia and neurons and that start programmed cell death. In the current study, we investigated early changes in cellular signaling and gene expression that occur within the first 6 hrs post optic nerve injury. RESULTS: We found evidence of cell to cell signaling within 30 min of axonal injury. We detected differences in phosphoproteins and gene expression within the 6 hrs time period. Activation of TNFalpha and glutamate receptors, two pathways that can initiate cell death, begins in RGCs within 6 hrs following axonal injury. Differential gene expression at 6 hrs post injury included genes involved in cytokine, neurotrophic factor signaling (Socs3) and apoptosis (Bax). CONCLUSION: We interpret our studies to indicate that both neurons and glia in the retina have been signaled within 30 min after optic nerve injury. The signals are probably initiated by the RGC soma. In addition, signals activating cellular death pathways occur within 6 hrs of injury, which likely lead to RGC degeneration.
Project description:We used optic nerve injury as a model to study early signaling events in the neuronal soma following axonal injury. Optic nerve injury results in the selective death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). The time course of cell death takes place over a period of days with the earliest detection of RGC death at about 48 hr post injury. We hypothesized that in the period immediately following axonal injury, there are changes in the soma that signal surrounding glia and neurons and that start programmed cell death. In the current study, we investigated early changes in cellular signaling and gene expression that occur within the first 6 hrs post optic nerve injury. We detected differences in phosphoproteins and gene expression within this time period that we used to interpret temporal events. Our studies revealed that the entire retina has been signaled by the RGC soma within 30 min after optic nerve injury and that pathways that modulate cell death are likely to be active in RGCs within 6 hrs following axonal injury Experiment Overall Design: In the treated animals, axons of the optic nerve were crushed with fine forceps for 10 sec, 1 mm posterior to the globe, under direct visualization, within an intact meningeal sheath. Controls were contralateral eyes from the same animals in each group that had not been injured. After 6 hr eyes were enucleated and processed for tissue sectionin