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Neuronal microtubules are morphologically abnormal in diseased regions of brain from patients with late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD). Here we tested the hypothesis that tubulin derived from gray matter of patients with multiple forms of dementia was functionally impaired. Following taxol/GTP stimulation of tubulin polymerization of gray matter extracts we observed reduced capacity of tubulin to polymerize in LOAD, but not individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), compared to controls. Moreover, we observed similarly reduced taxol/GTP-stimulated tubulin polymerization from gray matter obtained from patients with AD caused by PSEN2 N141I mutation or frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism linked to chromosome-17 caused (FTDP-17) by TAU V337M or P301L mutation. Our results show that modification of tubulin function may contribute to intermediate or late stages in the pathogenesis of sporadic and inherited AD as well as FTDP-17.
Nigrostriatal dopamine depletion disrupts striatal medium spiny neuron morphology in Parkinson's disease and modulates striatal synaptic plasticity in animal models of parkinsonism. We demonstrate that long-term nigrostriatal dopamine depletion in the rat induces evolving changes in the phosphorylation of striatal proteins critical for synaptic plasticity. Dopamine depletion increased the phosphorylation of the alpha isoform of calcium-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKIIalpha) at Thr286, a site associated with enhanced autonomous kinase activity, but did not alter total levels of CaMKIIalpha or other synaptic proteins. Dopamine depletion decreased CaMKIIalpha levels in postsynaptic density-enriched fractions without significant changes in other proteins. The activity of protein phosphatase 1 (PP1), a postsynaptic phosphatase that dephosphorylates CaMKII, is regulated by DARPP-32 (dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein of 32 kDa). Dopamine depletion had no effect on DARPP-32 phosphorylation at Thr34, but increased DARPP-32 phosphorylation at Thr75. Levodopa administration reversed the increased phosphorylation of both CaMKIIalpha and DARPP-32. Normal ageing increased the levels of PP1(gamma1 isoform) but decreased levels of the PP1gamma1-targeting proteins spinophilin and neurabin. Elevated phosphorylations of CaMKIIalpha and DARPP-32 were maintained for up to 20 months after dopamine depletion. However, phosphorylation of the CaMKII-PP1 substrate, Ser831 in the glutamate receptor GluR1 subunit, was increased only after sustained (9-20 months) dopamine depletion. Interaction of ageing-related changes in PP1 with the dopamine depletion-induced changes in CaMKIIalpha may account for enhanced GluR1 phosphorylation only after long-term dopamine depletion. These evolving changes may impact striatal synaptic plasticity, Parkinson's disease progression and the changing efficacy and side-effects associated with dopamine replacement therapy.
Dysregulation of dopamine receptors (DARs) is believed to contribute to Parkinson disease (PD) pathology. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) undergo desensitization via activation-dependent phosphorylation by G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) followed by arrestin binding. Using quantitative Western blotting, we detected profound differences in the expression of arrestin2 and GRKs among four experimental groups of nonhuman primates: (1) normal, (2) parkinsonian, (3) parkinsonian treated with levodopa without or (4) with dyskinesia. Arrestin2 and GRK6 expression was significantly elevated in the MPTP-lesioned group in most brain regions; GRK2 was increased in caudal caudate and internal globus pallidus. Neither levodopa-treated group differed significantly from control. The only dyskinesia-specific change was an elevation of GRK3 in the ventral striatum of the dyskinetic group. Changes in arrestin and GRK expression in the MPTP group were accompanied by enhanced ERK activation and elevated total ERK expression, which were also reversed by L-DOPA. The data suggest the involvement of arrestins and GRKs in Parkinson disease pathology and the effects of levodopa treatment.
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease are increasingly prevalent in the aging population worldwide. The causes of these disorders are unknown, but many studies have suggested that the etiology is likely multifactorial and may involve exposure to something in the environment combined with the normal aging process. Nocardia asteroides are bacteria commonly found in the soil, and neuroinvasive strains of nocardiae have been described. N. asteroides strain GUH-2 invades the brains of experimentally infected animals and selectively affects dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra (SN), causing an L-DOPA-responsive movement disorder resembling parkinsonism. Furthermore, dopaminergic neurons undergo morphological changes characteristic of apoptosis following nocardial infection. Apoptosis has been implicated in dopaminergic neuronal dropout in Parkinson's patients as well as other parkinsonian models. Thus, in this study, in vivo and in vitro models were utilized to measure the ability of GUH-2 to induce the apoptotic death of dopaminergic cells. Following infection with GUH-2, dopaminergic apoptotic cells were identified in the SN of animals by in situ end labeling, which detects DNA fragmentation, combined with fluorescent immunolabeling of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive cells. In addition, apoptosis was observed in PC12 cell cultures incubated with GUH-2 by both in situ end labeling and the annexin V assay, which detects externalization of phosphatidylserine of the plasma membrane, indicating apoptotic death. Based on the results of these studies, it appears that experimental infection with N. asteroides provides a general model for studying apoptosis in parkinsonian disorders.
The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) plays a central role in the coordination of movement, attention, and the recognition of reward. Loss of DA from the basal ganglia, as a consequence of degeneration of neurons in the substantia nigra, triggers postural instability and Parkinson's disease (PD). DA transporters (DATs) regulate synaptic DA availability and provide a conduit for the uptake of DA mimetic neurotoxins, which can be used to evoke neuronal death and Parkinson-like syndrome. Recently, we have explored the sensitivity of DA neurons in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to the Parkinsonian-inducing neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) and found striking similarities, including DAT dependence, to neurodegeneration observed in mammalian models. In this review, we present our findings in the context of molecular and behavioral dimensions of DA signaling in C. elegans with an eye toward opportunities for uncovering DAT mutants, DAT regulators, and components of toxin-mediated cell death.