|Presynaptic regulation of astroglial excitatory neurotransmitter transporter GLT1. |
Yang, Yongjie, et al.
Neuron, 61: 880-94 (2009)
The neuron-astrocyte synaptic complex is a fundamental operational unit of the nervous system. Astroglia regulate synaptic glutamate, via neurotransmitter transport by GLT1/EAAT2. Astroglial mechanisms underlying this essential neuron-glial communication are not known. We now show that presynaptic terminals regulate astroglial synaptic functions, GLT1/EAAT2, via kappa B-motif binding phosphoprotein (KBBP), the mouse homolog of human heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein K (hnRNP K), which binds the GLT1/EAAT2 promoter. Neuron-stimulated KBBP is required for GLT1/EAAT2 transcriptional activation and is responsible for astroglial alterations in neural injury. Denervation of neuron-astrocyte signaling by corticospinal tract transection, ricin-induced motor neuron death, or neurodegeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis all result in reduced astroglial KBBP expression and transcriptional dysfunction of astroglial transporter expression. Presynaptic elements dynamically coordinate normal astroglial function and also provide a fundamental signaling mechanism by which altered neuronal function and injury leads to dysregulated astroglia in CNS disease.
|Axonal mRNA in uninjured and regenerating cortical mammalian axons. |
Taylor, Anne M, et al.
J. Neurosci., 29: 4697-707 (2009)
Using a novel microfluidic chamber that allows the isolation of axons without contamination by nonaxonal material, we have for the first time purified mRNA from naive, matured CNS axons, and identified the presence of >300 mRNA transcripts. We demonstrate that the transcripts are axonal in nature, and that many of the transcripts present in uninjured CNS axons overlap with those previously identified in PNS injury-conditioned DRG axons. The axonal transcripts detected in matured cortical axons are enriched for protein translational machinery, transport, cytoskeletal components, and mitochondrial maintenance. We next investigated how the axonal mRNA pool changes after axotomy, revealing that numerous gene transcripts related to intracellular transport, mitochondria and the cytoskeleton show decreased localization 2 d after injury. In contrast, gene transcripts related to axonal targeting and synaptic function show increased localization in regenerating cortical axons, suggesting that there is an increased capacity for axonal outgrowth and targeting, and increased support for synapse formation and presynaptic function in regenerating CNS axons after injury. Our data demonstrate that CNS axons contain many mRNA species of diverse functions, and suggest that, like invertebrate and PNS axons, CNS axons synthesize proteins locally, maintaining a degree of autonomy from the cell body.
|A microfluidic chamber for analysis of neuron-to-cell spread and axonal transport of an alpha-herpesvirus. |
Liu, Wendy W, et al.
PLoS ONE, 3: e2382 (2008)
Alpha-herpesviruses, including herpes simplex virus and pseudorabies virus (PRV), infect the peripheral nervous system (PNS) of their hosts. Here, we describe an in vitro method for studying neuron-to-cell spread of infection as well as viral transport in axons. The method centers on a novel microfluidic chamber system that directs growth of axons into a fluidically isolated environment. The system uses substantially smaller amounts of virus inoculum and media than previous chamber systems and yet offers the flexibility of applying multiple virology and cell biology assays including live-cell optical imaging. Using PRV infection of cultured PNS neurons, we demonstrate that the microfluidic chamber recapitulates all known facets of neuron-to-cell spread demonstrated in animals and other compartmented cell systems.
|Microfluidic culture platform for neuroscience research. |
Park, Jeong Won, et al.
Nat Protoc, 1: 2128-36 (2006)
This protocol describes the fabrication and use of a microfluidic device to culture central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system neurons for neuroscience applications. This method uses replica-molded transparent polymer parts to create miniature multi-compartment cell culture platforms. The compartments are made of tiny channels with dimensions of tens to hundreds of micrometers that are large enough to culture a few thousand cells in well-controlled microenvironments. The compartments for axon and somata are separated by a physical partition that has a number of embedded micrometer-sized grooves. After 3-4 days in vitro (DIV), cells that are plated into the somal compartment have axons that extend across the barrier through the microgrooves. The culture platform is compatible with microscopy methods such as phase contrast, differential interference microscopy, fluorescence and confocal microscopy. Cells can be cultured for 2-3 weeks within the device, after which they can be fixed and stained for immunocytochemistry. Axonal and somal compartments can be maintained fluidically isolated from each other by using a small hydrostatic pressure difference; this feature can be used to localize soluble insults to one compartment for up to 20 h after each medium change. Fluidic isolation enables collection of pure axonal fraction and biochemical analysis by PCR. The microfluidic device provides a highly adaptable platform for neuroscience research and may find applications in modeling CNS injury and neurodegeneration. This protocol can be completed in 1-2 days.
|A microfluidic culture platform for CNS axonal injury, regeneration and transport. |
Taylor, Anne M, et al.
Nat. Methods, 2: 599-605 (2005)
Investigation of axonal biology in the central nervous system (CNS) is hindered by a lack of an appropriate in vitro method to probe axons independently from cell bodies. Here we describe a microfluidic culture platform that polarizes the growth of CNS axons into a fluidically isolated environment without the use of targeting neurotrophins. In addition to its compatibility with live cell imaging, the platform can be used to (i) isolate CNS axons without somata or dendrites, facilitating biochemical analyses of pure axonal fractions and (ii) localize physical and chemical treatments to axons or somata. We report the first evidence that presynaptic (Syp) but not postsynaptic (Camk2a) mRNA is localized to developing rat cortical and hippocampal axons. The platform also serves as a straightforward, reproducible method to model CNS axonal injury and regeneration. The results presented here demonstrate several experimental paradigms using the microfluidic platform, which can greatly facilitate future studies in axonal biology.