Abstract: Survival critically depends on selecting appropriate defensive or exploratory behaviors and is strongly influenced by the surrounding environment. Contextual discrimination is a fundamental process that is thought to depend on the prefrontal cortex to integrate sensory information from the environment and regulate adaptive responses to threat during uncertainty. However, the precise prefrontal circuits necessary for discriminating a previously threatening context from a neutral context remain unknown. Using a combination of single-unit recordings and optogenetic manipulations, we identified a neuronal subpopulation in the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) that projects to the lateral and ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (l/vlPAG) and is selectively activated during contextual fear discrimination. Moreover, optogenetic activation and inhibition of this neuronal population promoted contextual fear discrimination and generalization, respectively. Our results identify a subpopulation of dmPFC-l/vlPAG-projecting neurons that control switching between different emotional states during contextual discrimination.
Abstract: The basolateral amygdala (BLA) mediates associative learning for both fear and reward. Accumulating evidence supports the notion that different BLA projections distinctly alter motivated behavior, including projections to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), medial aspect of the central amygdala (CeM), and ventral hippocampus (vHPC). Although there is consensus regarding the existence of distinct subsets of BLA neurons encoding positive or negative valence, controversy remains regarding the anatomical arrangement of these populations. First, we map the location of more than 1,000 neurons distributed across the BLA and recorded during a Pavlovian discrimination task. Next, we determine the location of projection-defined neurons labeled with retrograde tracers and use CLARITY to reveal the axonal path in 3-dimensional space. Finally, we examine the local influence of each projection-defined populations within the BLA. Understanding the functional and topographical organization of circuits underlying valence assignment could reveal fundamental principles about emotional processing.
Abstract: The pathophysiology of body weight gain that is observed in patients suffering from myeloproliferative neoplasms treated with inhibitors of the janus kinase (Jak) 1 and 2 pathway remains unknown. Here we hypothesized that this class of drugs interferes with the metabolic actions of leptin, as this hormone requires functional Jak2 signaling. To test this, C57BL/6J chow-fed mice received either chronic intraperitoneal (ip) or repeated intracerebroventricular (icv) administration of the selective Jak2 inhibitor NVP-BSK805, which was proven efficacious in treating polycythemia in rodents. Changes in food intake, body weight and body composition were recorded. Icv NVP-BSK805 was combined with ip leptin to evaluate ability to interfere with the action of this hormone on food intake and on induction of hypothalamic phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). We found that chronic peripheral administration of NVP-BSK805 did not alter food intake, but increased fat mass and feed efficiency. The increase in fat mass was more pronounced during repeated icv administration of the compound, suggesting that metabolic effects were related to molecular interference in brain structures regulating energy balance. Accordingly, acute icv administration of NVP-BSK805 prevented the ability of leptin to decrease food intake and body weight by impeding STAT3 phosphorylation within the hypothalamus. Consequently, acute icv administration of NVP-BSK805 at higher dose induced hyperphagia and body weight gain. Our results provide evidence for a specific anabolic effect exerted by antineoplastic drugs targeting the Jak2 pathway, which is due to interference with the actions of leptin. Consequently, assessment of metabolic variables related to increased fat mass gain should be performed in patients treated with Jak2 inhibitors.
Abstract: RNA polymerase (Pol) III transcribes small untranslated RNAs that are essential for cellular homeostasis and growth. Its activity is regulated by inactivation of tumor suppressor proteins and overexpression of the oncogene c-MYC, but the concerted action of these tumor-promoting factors on Pol III transcription has not yet been assessed. In order to comprehensively analyse the regulation of Pol III transcription during tumorigenesis we employ a model system that relies on the expression of five genetic elements to achieve cellular transformation. Expression of these elements in six distinct transformation intermediate cell lines leads to the inactivation of TP53, RB1, and protein phosphatase 2A, as well as the activation of RAS and the protection of telomeres by TERT, thereby conducting to full tumoral transformation of IMR90 fibroblasts. Transformation is accompanied by moderately enhanced levels of a subset of Pol III-transcribed RNAs (7SK; MRP; H1). In addition, mRNA and/or protein levels of several Pol III subunits and transcription factors are upregulated, including increased protein levels of TFIIIB and TFIIIC subunits, of SNAPC1 and of Pol III subunits. Strikingly, the expression of POLR3G and of SNAPC1 is strongly enhanced during transformation in this cellular transformation model. Collectively, our data indicate that increased expression of several components of the Pol III transcription system accompanied by a 2-fold increase in steady state levels of a subset of Pol III RNAs is sufficient for sustaining tumor formation.
Abstract: Positive allosteric modulators of AMPA receptors (AMPA-PAMs) are described to facilitate cognitive processes in different memory-based models. Among them, S 47445 is a novel potent and selective AMPA-PAM. In order to assess its efficacy after repeated administration, S 47445 effect was evaluated in two aging-induced memory dysfunction tasks in old mice, one short-term working memory model evaluated in a radial maze task and one assessing contextual memory performance. S 47445 was shown to improve cognition in both models sensitive to aging. In fact, administration of S 47445 at 0.3 mg/kg (s.c.) reversed the age-induced deficits of the working memory model whatever the retention interval. Moreover, in the contextual task, S 47445 also reversed the age-induced deficit at all tested doses (from 0.03 to 0.3 mg/kg, p.o.). Since donepezil, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, induces only moderate symptomatic effects on memory in Alzheimer's disease patients, an alternative strategy for treatment of cognitive symptoms could be to act simultaneously on both glutamatergic AMPA receptors and cholinergic pathways by combining pharmacological treatments. The present study further examined such effects by assessing combinations of S 47445 and donepezil given orally during 9 days in aged C57/Bl6J mice using contextual memory task (CSD) and the working memory model of serial alternation task (AT). Interestingly, a significant synergistic memory-enhancing effect was observed with the combination of donepezil at 0.1 mg/kg with S 47445 at 0.1 mg/kg p.o. in the CSD or with S 47445 at 0.1 and 0.3 mg/kg in AT in comparison to compounds given alone and without any pharmacokinetic interaction.
Abstract: Surgery and cisplatin-based treatment of hepatoblastoma (HB) currently guarantee the survival of 70-80% of patients. However, some important challenges remain in diagnosing high risk tumors and identifying relevant targetable pathways offering new therapeutic avenues. Previously, two molecular subclasses of hepatoblastoma tumors have been described, namely C1 and C2; C2 being the subgroup with the poorest prognosis, a more advanced tumor stage and the worst overall survival rate. An associated 16-gene signature to discriminate the two tumoral subgroups was proposed but it has not been transferred into clinical routine. To address these issues we performed RNA sequencing of 25 tumors and matched normal liver samples from patients. The transcript profiling separated HB into three distinct subgroups named C1, C2A and C2B, identifiable by a concise four-gene signature: HSD17B6, ITGA6, TOP2A and VIM, with TOP2A being characteristic for the proliferative C2A tumors. Differential expression of these genes was confirmed by RT-qPCR on an expanded cohort and by immunohistochemistry. We also revealed significant overexpression of genes involved in Fanconi Anemia (FA) pathway in the C2A subgroup. We then investigated the ability of several described FA inhibitors to block growth of HB cells in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrated that bortezomib, an FDA-approved proteasome inhibitor, strongly impairs the proliferation and survival of HB cell lines in vitro, blocks FA pathway associated double-strand DNA repair and significantly impedes HB growth in vivo. In conclusion, the highly proliferating C2A subtype is characterized by TOP2A gene up-regulation and FA pathway activation and HB therapeutic arsenal could include Bortezomib for the treatment of patients with the most aggressive tumors. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Abstract: Dysregulated adipocyte physiology leads to imbalanced energy storage, obesity, and associated diseases, imposing a costly burden on current health care. Cannabinoid receptor type-1 (CB1) plays a crucial role in controlling energy metabolism through central and peripheral mechanisms. In this work, adipocyte-specific inducible deletion of the CB1 gene (Ati-CB1-KO) was sufficient to protect adult mice from diet-induced obesity and associated metabolic alterations and to reverse the phenotype in already obese mice. Compared with controls, Ati-CB1-KO mice showed decreased body weight, reduced total adiposity, improved insulin sensitivity, enhanced energy expenditure, and fat depot-specific cellular remodeling toward lowered energy storage capacity and browning of white adipocytes. These changes were associated with an increase in alternatively activated macrophages concomitant with enhanced sympathetic tone in adipose tissue. Remarkably, these alterations preceded the appearance of differences in body weight, highlighting the causal relation between the loss of CB1 and the triggering of metabolic reprogramming in adipose tissues. Finally, the lean phenotype of Ati-CB1-KO mice and the increase in alternatively activated macrophages in adipose tissue were also present at thermoneutral conditions. Our data provide compelling evidence for a crosstalk among adipocytes, immune cells, and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), wherein CB1 plays a key regulatory role.
Abstract: The amygdala plays key roles in fear and anxiety. Studies of the amygdala have largely focused on neuronal function and connectivity. Astrocytes functionally interact with neurons, but their role in the amygdala remains largely unknown. We show that astrocytes in the medial subdivision of the central amygdala (CeM) determine the synaptic and behavioral outputs of amygdala circuits. To investigate the role of astrocytes in amygdala-related behavior and identify the underlying synaptic mechanisms, we used exogenous or endogenous signaling to selectively activate CeM astrocytes. Astrocytes depressed excitatory synapses from basolateral amygdala via A1 adenosine receptor activation and enhanced inhibitory synapses from the lateral subdivision of the central amygdala via A2A receptor activation. Furthermore, astrocytic activation decreased the firing rate of CeM neurons and reduced fear expression in a fear-conditioning paradigm. Therefore, we conclude that astrocyte activity determines fear responses by selectively regulating specific synapses, which indicates that animal behavior results from the coordinated activity of neurons and astrocytes.
Abstract: The surface dynamics of neurotransmitter receptors and transporters, as well as ion channels, has been well-documented in neurons, revealing complex molecular behaviour and key physiological functions. However, our understanding of the membrane trafficking and dynamics of the signalling molecules located at the plasma membrane of glial cells is still in its infancy. Yet, recent breakthroughs in the field of glial cells have been obtained using combination of superresolution microscopy, single molecule imaging, and electrophysiological recordings. Here, we review our current knowledge on the surface dynamics of neurotransmitter receptors, transporters and ion channels, in glial cells. It has emerged that the brain cell network activity, synaptic activity, and calcium signalling, regulate the surface distribution and dynamics of these molecules. Remarkably, the dynamics of a given neurotransmitter receptor/transporter at the plasma membrane of a glial cell or neuron is unique, revealing the existence of cell-type specific regulatory pathways. Thus, investigating the dynamics of signalling proteins at the surface of glial cells will likely shed new light on our understanding of glial cell physiology and pathology.
Abstract: The vast majority of neurons within the striatum are GABAergic medium spiny neurons (MSNs), which receive glutamatergic input from the cortex and thalamus, and form two major efferent pathways: the direct pathway, expressing dopamine D1 receptor (D1R-MSNs), and the indirect pathway, expressing dopamine D2 receptor (D2R-MSNs). While molecular mechanisms of MSN degeneration have been identified in animal models of striatal damage, the molecular factors that dictate a selective vulnerability of D1R-MSNs or D2R-MSNs remain unknown. Here, we combined genetic, chemogenetic, and pharmacological strategies with behavioral and neurochemical analyses, and show that the pool of cannabinoid CB1 receptor (CB1R) located on corticostriatal terminals efficiently safeguards D1R-MSNs, but not D2R-MSNs, from different insults. This cell-specific response relies on the regulation of glutamatergic signaling, and is independent from the CB1R-dependent control of astroglial activity in the striatum. These findings define cortical CB1R as a pivotal synaptic player in dictating a differential vulnerability of D1R-MSNs versus D2R-MSNs, and increase our understanding of the role of coordinated cannabinergic-glutamatergic signaling in establishing corticostriatal circuits and its dysregulation in neurodegenerative diseases.