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  • 1. Aufschnaiter, Andreas
    et al.
    Habernig, Lukas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren Institute. University of Graz, Austria.
    Kohler, Verena
    Diessl, Jutta
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren Institute.
    Carmona-Gutierrez, Didac
    Eisenberg, Tobias
    Keller, Walter
    Büttner, Sabrina
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren Institute. University of Graz, Austria.
    The Coordinated Action of Calcineurin and Cathepsin D Protects Against alpha-Synuclein Toxicity2017In: Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, ISSN 1662-5099, Vol. 10, article id 207Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The degeneration of dopaminergic neurons during Parkinson's disease (PD) is intimately linked to malfunction of alpha-synuclein (alpha Syn), the main component of the proteinaceous intracellular inclusions characteristic for this pathology. The cytotoxicity of alpha Syn has been attributed to disturbances in several biological processes conserved from yeast to humans, including Ca2+ homeostasis, general lysosomal function and autophagy. However, the precise sequence of events that eventually results in cell death remains unclear. Here, we establish a connection between the major lysosomal protease cathepsin D (CatD) and the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent phosphatase calcineurin. In a yeast model for PD, high levels of human alpha Syn triggered cytosolic acidification and reduced vacuolar hydrolytic capacity, finally leading to cell death. This could be counteracted by overexpression of yeast CatD (Pep4), which re-installed pH homeostasis and vacuolar proteolytic function, decreased alpha Syn oligomers and aggregates, and provided cytoprotection. Interestingly, these beneficial effects of Pep4 were independent of autophagy. Instead, they required functional calcineurin signaling, since deletion of calcineurin strongly reduced both the proteolytic activity of endogenous Pep4 and the cytoprotective capacity of overexpressed Pep4. Calcineurin contributed to proper endosomal targeting of Pep4 to the vacuole and the recycling of the Pep4 sorting receptor Pep1 from prevacuolar compartments back to the trans-Golgi network. Altogether, we demonstrate that stimulation of this novel calcineurin-Pep4 axis reduces alpha Syn cytotoxicity.

  • 2. Aufschnaiter, Andreas
    et al.
    Kohler, Verena
    Walter, Corvin
    Tosal-Castano, Sergi
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren Institute.
    Habernig, Lukas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren Institute.
    Wolinski, Heimo
    Keller, Walter
    Vögtle, F-Nora
    Büttner, Sabrina
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren Institute. University of Graz, Austria.
    The Enzymatic Core of the Parkinson's Disease-Associated Protein LRRK2 Impairs Mitochondria Biogenesis in Aging Yeast2018In: Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, ISSN 1662-5099, Vol. 11, article id 205Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Mitochondrial dysfunction is a prominent trait of cellular decline during aging and intimately linked to neuronal degeneration during Parkinson's disease (PD). Various proteins associated with PD have been shown to differentially impact mitochondrial dynamics, quality control and function, including the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2). Here, we demonstrate that high levels of the enzymatic core of human LRRK2, harboring GTPase as well as kinase activity, decreases mitochondrial mass via an impairment of mitochondria! biogenesis in aging yeast. We link mitochondrial depletion to a global downregulation of mitochondria-related gene transcripts and show that this catalytic core of LRRK2 localizes to mitochondria and selectively compromises respiratory chain complex IV formation. With progressing cellular age, this culminates in dissipation of mitochondrial transmembrane potential, decreased respiratory capacity, ATP depletion and generation of reactive oxygen species. Ultimately, the collapse of the mitochondrial network results in cell death. A point mutation in LRRK2 that increases the intrinsic GTPase activity diminishes mitochondrial impairment and consequently provides cytoprotection. In sum, we report that a downregulation of mitochondrial biogenesis rather than excessive degradation of mitochondria underlies the reduction of mitochondrial abundance induced by the enzymatic core of LRRK2 in aging yeast cells. Thus, our data provide a novel perspective for deciphering the causative mechanisms of LRRK2-associated PD pathology.

  • 3.
    Liu, Yiting
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Luo, Jiangnan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Nässel, Dick R.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    The Drosophila Transcription Factor Dimmed Affects Neuronal Growth and Differentiation in Multiple Ways Depending on Neuron Type and Developmental Stage2016In: Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, ISSN 1662-5099, Vol. 9, article id 97Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Growth of postmitotic neurons occurs during different stages of development, including metamorphosis, and may also be part of neuronal plasticity and regeneration. Recently we showed that growth of post-mitotic neuroendocrine cells expressing the basic helix loop helix (bHLH) transcription factor Dimmed (Dimm) in Drosophila could be regulated by insulin/IGF signaling and the insulin receptor (dlnR). Dimm is also known to confer a secretory phenotype to neuroendocrine cells and can be part of a combinatorial code specifying terminal differentiation in peptidergic neurons. To further understand the mechanisms of Down function we ectopically expressed Dimm or Dimm together with dlnR in a wide range of Dimm positive and Dimm negative peptidergic neurons, sensory neurons, interneurons, motor neurons, and gut endocrine cells. We provide further evidence that dlnR mediated cell growth occurs in a Dimm dependent manner and that one source of insulin-like peptide (DILP) for dlnR mediated cell growth in the OHS is DILP6 from glial cells. Expressing both Dimm and dlnR in Dimm negative neurons induced growth of cell bodies, whereas dlnR alone did not. We also found that Dimm alone can regulate cell growth depending on specific cell type. This may be explained by the finding that the dlnR is a direct target of Dimm. Conditional gene targeting experiments showed that Dimm alone could affect cell growth in certain neuron types during metamorphosis or in the adult stage. Another important finding was that ectopic Dimm inhibits apoptosis of several types of neurons normally destined for programmed cell death (PCD). Taken together our results suggest that Dimm plays multiple transcriptional roles at different developmental stages in a cell type-specific manner. In some cell types ectopic Dimm may act together with resident combinatorial code transcription factors and affect terminal differentiation, as well as act in transcriptional networks that participate in long term maintenance of neurons which might lead to blocked apoptosis.

  • 4.
    Luo, Jiangnan
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Liu, Yiting
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Nässel, Dick R.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Transcriptional Reorganization of Drosophila Motor Neurons and Their Muscular Junctions toward a Neuroendocrine Phenotype by the bHLH Protein Dimmed2017In: Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, ISSN 1662-5099, Vol. 10, article id 260Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Neuroendocrine cells store and secrete bulk amounts of neuropeptides, and display morphological and molecular characteristics distinct from neurons signaling with classical neurotransmitters. In Drosophila the transcription factor Dimmed (Dimm), is a prime organizer of neuroendocrine capacity in a majority of the peptidergic neurons. These neurons display large cell bodies and extensive axon terminations that commonly do not form regular synapses. We ask which molecular compartments of a neuron are affected by Dimm to generate these morphological features. Thus, we ectopically expressed Dimm in glutamatergic, Dimm-negative, motor neurons and analyzed their characteristics in the central nervous system and the neuromuscular junction. Ectopic Dimm results in motor neurons with enlarged cell bodies, diminished dendrites, larger axon terminations and boutons, as well as reduced expression of synaptic proteins both pre and post-synaptically. Furthermore, the neurons display diminished vesicular glutamate transporter, and signaling components known to sustain interactions between the developing axon termination and muscle, such as wingless and frizzled are down regulated. Ectopic co-expression of Dimm and the insulin receptor augments most of the above effects on the motor neurons. In summary, ectopic Dimm expression alters the glutamatergic motor neuron phenotype toward a neuroendocrine one, both pre- and post-synaptically. Thus, Dimm is a key organizer of both secretory capacity and morphological features characteristic of neuroendocrine cells, and this transcription factor affects also post- synaptic proteins.

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