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GABAergic interneurons synchronize network activities and monitor information flow. Post-mortem studies have reported decreased densities of cortical interneurons in schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BPD). The entorhinal cortex (EC) and the adjacent subicular regions are a hub for integration of hippocampal and cortical information, a process that is disrupted in SZ. Here we contrast and compare the density of interneuron populations in the caudal EC and subicular regions in BPD type I (BPD-I), SZ, and normal control (NC) subjects. Post-mortem human parahippocampal specimens of 13 BPD-I, 11 SZ and 17 NC subjects were used to examine the numerical density of parvalbumin-, somatostatin- or calbindin-positive interneurons. We observed a reduction in the numerical density of parvalbumin- and somatostatin-positive interneurons in the caudal EC and parasubiculum in BPD-I and SZ, but no change in the subiculum. Calbindin-positive interneuron densities were normal in all brain areas examined. The profile of decreased density was strikingly similar in BPD-I and SZ. Our results demonstrate a specific reduction of parvalbumin- and somatostatin-positive interneurons in the parahippocampal region in BPD-I and SZ, likely disrupting synchronization and integration of cortico-hippocampal circuits.
Neural stem cells (NSCs) persist in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the adult brain. Location within this germinal region determines the type of neuronal progeny NSCs generate, but the mechanism of adult NSC positional specification remains unknown. We show that sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling, resulting in high gli1 levels, occurs in the ventral SVZ and is associated with the genesis of specific neuronal progeny. Shh is selectively produced by a small group of ventral forebrain neurons. Ablation of Shh decreases production of ventrally derived neuron types, while ectopic activation of this pathway in dorsal NSCs respecifies their progeny to deep granule interneurons and calbindin-positive periglomerular cells. These results show that Shh is necessary and sufficient for the specification of adult ventral NSCs.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The EF hand, a helix-loop-helix structure, is one of the most common motifs found in animal genomes, and EF-hand Ca(2+)-binding proteins (EFCaBPs) are widely distributed throughout the cell. However, researchers remain confounded by a lack of understanding of how peptide sequences code for specific functions and by uncertainty about the molecular mechanisms that enable EFCaBPs to distinguish among many diverse cellular targets. Such knowledge could define the roles of EFCaBPs in health and disease and ultimately enable control or even design of Ca(2+)-dependent functions in medicine and biotechnology. In this Account, we describe our structural and biochemical research designed to understand the sequence-to-function relationship in EFCaBPs. The first structural goal was to define conformational changes induced by binding Ca(2+), and our group and others established that solution NMR spectroscopy is well suited for this task. We pinpointed residues critical to the differences in Ca(2+) response of calbindin D(9k) and calmodulin (CaM), homologous EFCaBPs from different functional classes, by using direct structure determination with site-directed mutagenesis and protein engineering. Structure combined with biochemistry provided the foundation for identifying the fundamental mechanism of cooperativity in the binding of Ca(2+) ions: this cooperativity provides EFCaBPs with the ability to detect the relatively small changes in concentration that constitute Ca(2+) signals. Using calbindin D(9k) as a model system, studies of the structure and fast time scale dynamics of each of the four ion binding states in a typical EF-hand domain provided direct evidence that site-site communication lowers the free energy cost of reorganization for binding the second ion. Our work has also extended models of how EFCaBPs interact with their cellular targets. We determined the unique dimeric architecture of S100 proteins, a specialized subfamily of EFCaBPs found exclusively in vertebrates. We described the implications for how these proteins transduce signals and went on to characterize interactions with peptide fragments of important cellular targets. Studies of the CaM homolog centrin revealed novel characteristics of its binding of Ca(2+) and its interaction with its cellular target Kar1. These results provided clear examples of how subtle differences in sequence fine-tune EFCaBPs to interact with their specific targets. The structural approach stands at a critical crossroad, shifting in emphasis from descriptive structural biochemistry to integrated biology and medicine. We present our dual-molecular-switch model for Ca(2+) regulation of gating functions of voltage-gated sodium channels in which both CaM and an intrinsic EF-hand domain serve as coupled Ca(2+) sensors. A second example involves novel EFCaBP extracellular function, that is, the role of S100A8/S100A9 heterodimer in the innate immune response to bacterial pathogens. A mechanism for the antimicrobial activity of S100A8/S100A9 was discovered. We describe interactions of S100A8/S100A9 and S100B with the cell surface receptor for advanced glycation end products. Biochemical and structural studies are now uncovering the mechanisms by which EFCaBPs work and are helping to define their biological activities, while simultaneously expanding knowledge of the roles of these proteins in normal cellular physiology and the pathology of disease.
© 2011 American Chemical Society
Gestational cocaine exposure in a rabbit model leads to a persistent increase in parvalbumin immunoreactive cells and processes, reduces dopamine D1 receptor coupling to Gsalpha by means of improper trafficking of the receptor, changes pyramidal neuron morphology, and disrupts cognitive function. Here, experiments investigated whether changes in parvalbumin neurons were specific, or extended to other subpopulations of interneurons. Additionally, we examined dopamine D1 receptor expression patterns and its overlap with specific interneuron populations in the rabbit prefrontal cortex as a possible correlate for alterations in interneuron development following prenatal cocaine exposure. Analysis of calbindin and calretinin interneuron subtypes revealed that they did not exhibit any differences in cell number or process development. Thus, specific consequences of prenatal cocaine in the rabbit appear to be limited to parvalbumin-positive interneurons. Dopamine D1 receptor expression did not correlate with the selective effects of cocaine exposure, however, as both parvalbumin and calbindin cell types expressed the receptor. The findings suggest that additional, unique properties of parvalbumin neurons contribute to their developmental sensitivity to in utero cocaine exposure.
The effects of Ca(2+) binding on the side-chain methyl dynamics of calbindin D(9k) have been characterized by (2)H NMR relaxation rate measurements. Longitudinal, transverse in-phase, quadrupolar order, transverse anti-phase and double quantum relaxation rates are reported for both the apo and Ca(2+)-loaded states of the protein at two magnetic field strengths. The relatively large size of the data set allows for a detailed analysis of the underlying conformational dynamics by spectral density mapping and model-free fitting procedures. The results reveal a correlation between a methyl group's distance from the Ca(2+) binding sites and its conformational dynamics. Several methyl groups segregate into two limiting classes, one proximal and the other distal to the binding sites. Methyl groups in these two classes respond differently to Ca(2+) binding, both in terms of the timescale and amplitude of their fluctuations. Ca(2+) binding elicits a partial immobilization among methyl groups in the proximal class, which is consistent with previous studies of calbindin's backbone dynamics. The distal class, however, exhibits a trend that could not be inferred from the backbone data in that its mobility actually increases with Ca(2+) binding. We have introduced the term polar dynamics to describe this type of organization across the molecule. The trend may represent an important mechanism by which calbindin D(9k) achieves high affinity binding while minimizing the corresponding loss of conformational entropy.
The molecular machinery governing glutamatergic-GABAergic neuronal subtype specification is unclear. Here we describe a cerebellar mutant, cerebelless, which lacks the entire cerebellar cortex in adults. The primary defect of the mutant brains was a specific inhibition of GABAergic neuron production from the cerebellar ventricular zone (VZ), resulting in secondary and complete loss of external germinal layer, pontine, and olivary nuclei during development. We identified the responsible gene, Ptf1a, whose expression was lost in the cerebellar VZ but was maintained in the pancreas in cerebelless. Lineage tracing revealed that two types of neural precursors exist in the cerebellar VZ: Ptf1a-expressing and -nonexpressing precursors, which generate GABAergic and glutamatergic neurons, respectively. Introduction of Ptf1a into glutamatergic neuron precursors in the dorsal telencephalon generated GABAergic neurons with representative morphological and migratory features. Our results suggest that Ptf1a is involved in driving neural precursors to differentiate into GABAergic neurons in the cerebellum.
The cellular functions of several S100 proteins involve specific interactions with phospholipids and the cell membrane. The interactions between calbindin D(9k) (S100D) and the detergent dodecyl phosphocholine (DPC) were studied using NMR spectroscopy. In the absence of Ca(2+), the protein associates with DPC micelles. The micelle-associated state has intact helical secondary structures but no apparent tertiary fold. At neutral pH, Ca(2+)-loaded calbindin D(9k) does not associate with DPC micelles. However, a specific interaction is observed with individual DPC molecules at a site close to the linker between the two EF-hands. Binding to this site occurs only when Ca(2+) is bound to the protein. A reduction in pH in the absence of Ca(2+) increases the stability of the micelle-associated state. This along with the corresponding reduction in Ca(2+) affinity causes a transition to the micelle-associated state also in the presence of Ca(2+) when the pH is lowered. Site-specific analysis of the data indicates that calbindin D(9k) has a core of three tightly packed helices (A, B, and D), with a dynamic fourth helix (C) more loosely associated. Evidence is presented that the Ca(2+)-binding characteristics of the two EF-hands are distinctly different in a micelle environment. The role of calbindin D(9k) in the cell is discussed, along with the broader implications for the function of the S100 protein family.
Dopaminergic axons innervating the prefrontal cortex (PFC) target both pyramidal cells and GABAergic interneurons. Many of these dopamine (DA) axons in the rat coexpress the peptide neurotransmitter neurotensin. Previous electrophysiological data have suggested that neurotensin activates GABAergic interneurons in the PFC. Activation of D2-like DA receptors increases extracellular GABA levels in the PFC, as opposed to the striatum, where D2 receptor activation inhibits GABAergic neurons. Because activation of presynaptic D2 release-modulating autoreceptors in the PFC suppresses DA release but increases release of the cotransmitter neurotensin, D2 agonists may enhance the activity of GABAergic interneurons via release of neurotensin. In order to determine if neurotensin can activate GABAergic interneurons, we treated rats with the peptide neurotensin agonist, PD149163, and examined Fos expression in PFC neurons. Systemic administration of PD149163 increased overall Fos expression in the PFC, but not in the dorsal striatum. PD149163 induced Fos in PFC interneurons, as defined by the presence of calcium-binding proteins, and in pyramidal cells. Pretreatment with the high-affinity neurotensin antagonist, SR48692, blocked neurotensin agonist-induced Fos expression. These data suggest that neurotensin activates interneurons in the PFC of the rat.
The extent of conformational change that calcium binding induces in EF-hand proteins is a key biochemical property specifying Ca(2+) sensor versus signal modulator function. To understand how differences in amino acid sequence lead to differences in the response to Ca(2+) binding, comparative analyses of sequence and structures, combined with model building, were used to develop hypotheses about which amino acid residues control Ca(2+)-induced conformational changes. These results were used to generate a first design of calbindomodulin (CBM-1), a calbindin D(9k) re-engineered with 15 mutations to respond to Ca(2+) binding with a conformational change similar to that of calmodulin. The gene for CBM-1 was synthesized, and the protein was expressed and purified. Remarkably, this protein did not exhibit any non-native-like molten globule properties despite the large number of mutations and the nonconservative nature of some of them. Ca(2+)-induced changes in CD intensity and in the binding of the hydrophobic probe, ANS, implied that CBM-1 does undergo Ca(2+) sensorlike conformational changes. The X-ray crystal structure of Ca(2+)-CBM-1 determined at 1.44 A resolution reveals the anticipated increase in hydrophobic surface area relative to the wild-type protein. A nascent calmodulin-like hydrophobic docking surface was also found, though it is occluded by the inter-EF-hand loop. The results from this first calbindomodulin design are discussed in terms of progress toward understanding the relationships between amino acid sequence, protein structure, and protein function for EF-hand CaBPs, as well as the additional mutations for the next CBM design.
The ability to manipulate ligand-induced conformational change, although representing a major challenge to the protein engineer, is an essential end point in efforts to produce novel functional proteins for biotechnology and therapeutic applications. Progress towards this goal requires determining not only what factors control the fold and stability of a protein, but also how ligand binding alters the complex conformational/energetic landscape. Important strides are being made on several fronts, including understanding the origin of long-range effects and allosteric structural mechanisms, using both experimental and theoretical approaches.