165 research outputs found

    Attenuated transcriptional response to pro-inflammatory cytokines in schizophrenia hiPSC-derived neural progenitor cells

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    Maternal immune activation (MIA) during prenatal development is an environmental risk factor for psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia (SZ). Converging lines of evidence from human and animal model studies suggest that elevated cytokine levels in the maternal and fetal compartments are an important indication of the mechanisms driving this association. However, there is variability in susceptibility to the psychiatric risk conferred by MIA, likely influenced by genetic factors. How MIA interacts with a genetic profile susceptible to SZ is challenging to test in animal models. To address this gap, we examined whether differential gene expression responses occur in forebrain-lineage neural progenitor cells (NPCs) derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) generated from three individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and three healthy controls. Following acute (24 h) treatment with either interferon-gamma (IFNγ; 25 ng/μl) or interleukin (IL)-1β (10 ng/μl), we identified, by RNA sequencing, 3380 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in the IFNγ-treated control lines (compared to untreated controls), and 1980 DEGs in IFNγ-treated SZ lines (compared to untreated SZ lines). Out of 4137 genes that responded significantly to IFNγ across all lines, 1223 were common to both SZ and control lines. The 2914 genes that appeared to respond differentially to IFNγ treatment in SZ lines were subjected to a further test of significance (multiple testing correction applied to the interaction effect between IFNγ treatment and SZ diagnosis), yielding 359 genes that passed the significance threshold. There were no differentially expressed genes in the IL-1β-treatment conditions after Benjamini-Hochberg correction. Gene set enrichment analysis however showed that IL-1β impacts immune function and neuronal differentiation. Overall, our data suggest that a) SZ NPCs show an attenuated transcriptional response to IFNγ treatment compared to controls; b) Due to low IL-1β receptor expression in NPCs, NPC cultures appear to be less responsive to IL-1β than IFNγ; and c) the genes differentially regulated in SZ lines – in the face of a cytokine challenge – are primarily associated with mitochondrial, “loss-of-function”, pre- and post-synaptic gene sets. Our findings particularly highlight the role of early synaptic development in the association between maternal immune activation and schizophrenia risk

    Psychosis risk candidate ZNF804A localizes to synapses and regulates neurite formation and dendritic spine structure

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    BackgroundVariation in the gene encoding zinc finger binding protein 804A (ZNF804A) is associated with schizophrenia (SCZ) and bipolar disorder (BP). Evidence suggests that ZNF804A is a regulator of gene transcription and is present in nuclear and extranuclear compartments. However, a detailed examination of ZNF804A distribution and its neuronal functions has yet to be performed.MethodsThe localization of ZNF804A protein was examined in neurons derived from human neural progenitor cells (hNPCs), human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) or in primary rat cortical neurons. Additionally, siRNA-mediated knockdown of ZNF804A was conducted to determine its role in neurite formation, maintenance of dendritic spine morphology and responses to activity-dependent stimulations.ResultsEndogenous ZNF804A protein localized to somato-dendritic compartments and co-localized with the putative synaptic markers in young neurons derived from hNPCs and hiPSCs. In mature rat neurons, Zfp804A, the homolog of ZNF804A, was present in a subset of dendritic spines and co-localized with synaptic proteins in specific nanodomains, as determined by superresolution microscopy. Interestingly, knockdown of ZNF804A attenuated neurite outgrowth in young neurons, an effect potentially mediated by reduced neuroligin-4 (NLGN4) expression. Furthermore, knockdown of ZNF804A in mature neurons resulted in the loss of dendritic spine density, and impaired responses to activity-dependent stimulation.ConclusionsThese data reveal a novel subcellular distribution for ZNF804A within somato-dendritic compartments and a nanoscopic organisation at excitatory synapses. Moreover, our results suggest that ZNF804A plays an active role in neurite formation, maintenance of dendritic spines and activity-dependent structural plasticity

    Characterisation of neurons derived from a cortical human neural stem cell line CTX0E16

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    INTRODUCTION: Conditionally immortalised human neural progenitor cells (hNPCs) represent a robust source of native neural cells to investigate physiological mechanisms in both health and disease. However, in order to recognise the utility of such cells, it is critical to determine whether they retain characteristics of their tissue of origin and generate appropriate neural cell types upon differentiation. To this end, we have characterised the conditionally immortalised, cortically-derived, human NPC line, CTX0E16, investigating the molecular and cellular phenotype of differentiated neurons to determine whether they possess characteristics of cortical glutamatergic neurons. METHODS: Differentiated CTX0E16 cells were characterised by assessing expression of several neural fates markers, and examination of developing neuronal morphology. Expression of neurotransmitter receptors, signalling proteins and related proteins were assessed by q- and RT-PCR and complemented by Ca(2+) imaging, electrophysiology and assessment of ERK signalling in response to neurotransmitter ligand application. Finally, differentiated neurons were assessed for their ability to form putative synapses and to respond to activity-dependent stimulation. RESULTS: Differentiation of CTX0E16 hNPCs predominately resulted in the generation of neurons expressing markers of cortical and glutamatergic (excitatory) fate, and with a typical polarized neuronal morphology. Gene expression analysis confirmed an upregulation in the expression of cortical, glutamatergic and signalling proteins following differentiation. CTX0E16 neurons demonstrated Ca(2+) and ERK1/2 responses following exogenous neurotransmitter application, and after 6 weeks displayed spontaneous Ca(2+) transients and electrophysiological properties consistent with that of immature neurons. Differentiated CTX0E16 neurons also expressed a range of pre- and post-synaptic proteins that co-localized along distal dendrites, and moreover, displayed structural plasticity in response to modulation of neuronal activity. CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the CTX0E16 hNPC line is a robust source of cortical neurons, which display functional properties consistent with a glutamatergic phenotype. Thus CTX0E16 neurons can be used to study cortical cell function, and furthermore, as these neurons express a range of disease-associated genes, they represent an ideal platform with which to investigate neurodevelopmental mechanisms in native human cells in health and disease. ELECTRONIC SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL: The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13287-015-0136-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users

    Rapid modulation of synaptogenesis and spinogenesis by 17β-estradiol in primary cortical neurons

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    In the mammalian forebrain, the majority of excitatory synapses occur on dendritic spines. Changes in the number of these structures is important for brain development, plasticity and the refinement of neuronal circuits. The formation of excitatory synapses involves the coordinated formation of dendritic spines and targeting of multi-protein complexes to nascent connections. Recent studies have demonstrated that the estrogen 17β-estradiol (E2) can rapidly increase the number of dendritic spines, an effect consistent with the ability of E2 to rapidly influence cognitive function. However, the molecular composition of E2-induced spines and whether these protrusions form synaptic connections has not been fully elucidated. Moreover, which estrogen receptor(s) (ER) mediate these spine-morphogenic responses are not clear. Here, we report that acute E2 treatment results in the recruitment of postsynaptic density protein 95 (PSD-95) to novel dendritic spines. In addition neuroligin 1 (Nlg-1) and the NMDA receptor subunit GluN1 are recruited to nascent synapses in cortical neurons. The presence of these synaptic proteins at nascent synapses suggests that the machinery to allow pre- and post-synapses to form connections are present in E2-induced spines. We further demonstrate that E2 treatment results in the rapid and transient activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), Akt and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathways. However, only ERK1/2 and Akt are required for E2-mediated spinogenesis. Using synthetic receptor modulators, we further demonstrate that activation of the estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) but not alpha (ERα) mimics rapid E2-induced spinogenesis and synaptogenesis. Taken together these findings suggest that in primary cortical neurons, E2 signaling via ERβ, but not through ERα, is capable of remodeling neuronal circuits by increasing the number of excitatory synapses