Publications by authors named "Lore Becker"

77 Publications

Mouse mutant phenotyping at scale reveals novel genes controlling bone mineral density.

PLoS Genet 2020 Dec 28;16(12):e1009190. Epub 2020 Dec 28.

German Mouse Clinic, Institute of Experimental Genetics, Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health GmbH, Neuherberg, Germany.

The genetic landscape of diseases associated with changes in bone mineral density (BMD), such as osteoporosis, is only partially understood. Here, we explored data from 3,823 mutant mouse strains for BMD, a measure that is frequently altered in a range of bone pathologies, including osteoporosis. A total of 200 genes were found to significantly affect BMD. This pool of BMD genes comprised 141 genes with previously unknown functions in bone biology and was complementary to pools derived from recent human studies. Nineteen of the 141 genes also caused skeletal abnormalities. Examination of the BMD genes in osteoclasts and osteoblasts underscored BMD pathways, including vesicle transport, in these cells and together with in silico bone turnover studies resulted in the prioritization of candidate genes for further investigation. Overall, the results add novel pathophysiological and molecular insight into bone health and disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009190DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7822523PMC
December 2020

Inhibition of LTβR signalling activates WNT-induced regeneration in lung.

Nature 2020 12 4;588(7836):151-156. Epub 2020 Nov 4.

Comprehensive Pneumology Center (CPC), Institute of Lung Biology and Disease, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Member of the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), Neuherberg, Germany.

Lymphotoxin β-receptor (LTβR) signalling promotes lymphoid neogenesis and the development of tertiary lymphoid structures, which are associated with severe chronic inflammatory diseases that span several organ systems. How LTβR signalling drives chronic tissue damage particularly in the lung, the mechanism(s) that regulate this process, and whether LTβR blockade might be of therapeutic value have remained unclear. Here we demonstrate increased expression of LTβR ligands in adaptive and innate immune cells, enhanced non-canonical NF-κB signalling, and enriched LTβR target gene expression in lung epithelial cells from patients with smoking-associated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and from mice chronically exposed to cigarette smoke. Therapeutic inhibition of LTβR signalling in young and aged mice disrupted smoking-related inducible bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue, induced regeneration of lung tissue, and reverted airway fibrosis and systemic muscle wasting. Mechanistically, blockade of LTβR signalling dampened epithelial non-canonical activation of NF-κB, reduced TGFβ signalling in airways, and induced regeneration by preventing epithelial cell death and activating WNT/β-catenin signalling in alveolar epithelial progenitor cells. These findings suggest that inhibition of LTβR signalling represents a viable therapeutic option that combines prevention of tertiary lymphoid structures and inhibition of apoptosis with tissue-regenerative strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2882-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7718297PMC
December 2020

Physiological relevance of the neuronal isoform of inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate 3-kinases in mice.

Neurosci Lett 2020 09 25;735:135206. Epub 2020 Jun 25.

Department of Biochemistry and Signal Transduction, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, D-20246, Hamburg, Germany. Electronic address:

Inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate 3-kinase-A (ITPKA) is the neuronal isoform of ITPKs and exhibits both actin bundling and InsPkinase activity. In addition to neurons, ITPKA is ectopically expressed in tumor cells, where its oncogenic activity increases tumor cell malignancy. In order to analyze the physiological relevance of ITPKA, here we performed a broad phenotypic screening of itpka deficient mice. Our data show that among the neurobehavioral tests analyzed, itpka deficient mice reacted faster to a hotplate, prepulse inhibition was impaired and the accelerating rotarod test showed decreased latency of itpka deficient mice to fall. These data indicate that ITPKA is involved in the regulation of nociceptive pathways, sensorimotor gating and motor learning. Analysis of extracerebral functions in control and itpka deficient mice revealed significantly reduced glucose, lactate, and triglyceride plasma concentrations in itpka deficient mice. Based on this finding, expression of ITPKA was analyzed in extracerebral tissues and the highest level was found in the small intestine. However, functional studies on CaCo-2 control and ITPKA depleted cells showed that glucose, as well as triglyceride uptake, were not significantly different between the cell lines. Altogether, these data show that ITPKA exhibits distinct functions in the central nervous system and reveal an involvement of ITPKA in energy metabolism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2020.135206DOI Listing
September 2020

The rRNA mA methyltransferase METTL5 is involved in pluripotency and developmental programs.

Genes Dev 2020 05 26;34(9-10):715-729. Epub 2020 Mar 26.

Institute of Functional Epigenetics, Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU), Neuherberg 85764, Germany.

Covalent chemical modifications of cellular RNAs directly impact all biological processes. However, our mechanistic understanding of the enzymes catalyzing these modifications, their substrates and biological functions, remains vague. Amongst RNA modifications N-methyladenosine (mA) is widespread and found in messenger (mRNA), ribosomal (rRNA), and noncoding RNAs. Here, we undertook a systematic screen to uncover new RNA methyltransferases. We demonstrate that the methyltransferase-like 5 (METTL5) protein catalyzes mA in rRNA at position A We report that absence of in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) results in a decrease in global translation rate, spontaneous loss of pluripotency, and compromised differentiation potential. METTL5-deficient mice are born at non-Mendelian rates and develop morphological and behavioral abnormalities. Importantly, mice lacking METTL5 recapitulate symptoms of patients with DNA variants in , thereby providing a new mouse disease model. Overall, our biochemical, molecular, and in vivo characterization highlights the importance of mA in rRNA in stemness, differentiation, development, and diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/gad.333369.119DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7197354PMC
May 2020

A comprehensive and comparative phenotypic analysis of the collaborative founder strains identifies new and known phenotypes.

Mamm Genome 2020 02 14;31(1-2):30-48. Epub 2020 Feb 14.

German Mouse Clinic, Institute of Experimental Genetics, Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Ingolstädter Landstrasse 1, 85764, Neuherberg, Germany.

The collaborative cross (CC) is a large panel of mouse-inbred lines derived from eight founder strains (NOD/ShiLtJ, NZO/HILtJ, A/J, C57BL/6J, 129S1/SvImJ, CAST/EiJ, PWK/PhJ, and WSB/EiJ). Here, we performed a comprehensive and comparative phenotyping screening to identify phenotypic differences and similarities between the eight founder strains. In total, more than 300 parameters including allergy, behavior, cardiovascular, clinical blood chemistry, dysmorphology, bone and cartilage, energy metabolism, eye and vision, immunology, lung function, neurology, nociception, and pathology were analyzed; in most traits from sixteen females and sixteen males. We identified over 270 parameters that were significantly different between strains. This study highlights the value of the founder and CC strains for phenotype-genotype associations of many genetic traits that are highly relevant to human diseases. All data described here are publicly available from the mouse phenome database for analyses and downloads.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00335-020-09827-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7060152PMC
February 2020

In-depth phenotyping reveals common and novel disease symptoms in a hemizygous knock-in mouse model (Mut-ko/ki) of mut-type methylmalonic aciduria.

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis 2020 03 23;1866(3):165622. Epub 2019 Nov 23.

Division of Metabolism and Children's Research Center, University Children's Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; radiz - Rare Disease Initiative Zurich, Clinical Research Priority Program for Rare Diseases, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Isolated methylmalonic aciduria (MMAuria) is primarily caused by deficiency of methylmalonyl-CoA mutase (MMUT or MUT). Biochemically, MUT deficiency results in the accumulation of methylmalonic acid (MMA), propionyl-carnitine (C3) and other metabolites. Patients often exhibit lethargy, failure to thrive and metabolic decompensation leading to coma or even death, with kidney and neurological impairment frequently identified in the long-term. Here, we report a hemizygous mouse model which combines a knock-in (ki) missense allele of Mut with a knock-out (ko) allele (Mut-ko/ki mice) that was fed a 51%-protein diet from day 12 of life, constituting a bespoke model of MMAuria. Under this diet, mutant mice developed a pronounced metabolic phenotype characterized by drastically increased blood levels of MMA and C3 compared to their littermate controls (Mut-ki/wt). With this bespoke mouse model, we performed a standardized phenotypic screen to assess the whole-body impairments associated with this strong metabolic condition. We found that Mut-ko/ki mice show common clinical manifestations of MMAuria, including pronounced failure to thrive, indications of mild neurological and kidney dysfunction, and degenerative morphological changes in the liver, along with less well described symptoms such as cardiovascular and hematological abnormalities. The analyses also reveal so far unknown disease characteristics, including low bone mineral density, anxiety-related behaviour and ovarian atrophy. This first phenotypic screening of a MMAuria mouse model confirms its relevance to human disease, reveals new alterations associated with MUT deficiency, and suggests a series of quantifiable readouts that can be used to evaluate potential treatment strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2019.165622DOI Listing
March 2020

CRN2 binds to TIMP4 and MMP14 and promotes perivascular invasion of glioblastoma cells.

Eur J Cell Biol 2019 Dec 11;98(5-8):151046. Epub 2019 Oct 11.

Centre for Biochemistry, Institute of Biochemistry I, Medical Faculty, University of Cologne, 50931, Cologne, Germany; Institute of Neuropathology, University Hospital Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, 91054, Erlangen, Germany; Center for Physiology and Pathophysiology, Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Medical Faculty, University of Cologne, 50931, Cologne, Germany. Electronic address:

CRN2 is an actin filament binding protein involved in the regulation of various cellular processes including cell migration and invasion. CRN2 has been implicated in the malignant progression of different types of human cancer. We used CRN2 knock-out mice for analyses as well as for crossbreeding with a Tp53/Pten knock-out glioblastoma mouse model. CRN2 knock-out mice were subjected to a phenotyping screen at the German Mouse Clinic. Murine glioblastoma tissue specimens as well as cultured murine brain slices and glioblastoma cell lines were investigated by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, and cell biological experiments. Protein interactions were studied by immunoprecipitation, pull-down, and enzyme activity assays. CRN2 knock-out mice displayed neurological and behavioural alterations, e.g. reduced hearing sensitivity, reduced acoustic startle response, hypoactivity, and less frequent urination. While glioblastoma mice with or without the additional CRN2 knock-out allele exhibited no significant difference in their survival rates, the increased levels of CRN2 in transplanted glioblastoma cells caused a higher tumour cell encasement of murine brain slice capillaries. We identified two important factors of the tumour microenvironment, the tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase 4 (TIMP4) and the matrix metalloproteinase 14 (MMP14, synonym: MT1-MMP), as novel binding partners of CRN2. All three proteins mutually interacted and co-localised at the front of lamellipodia, and CRN2 was newly detected in exosomes. On the functional level, we demonstrate that CRN2 increased the secretion of TIMP4 as well as the catalytic activity of MMP14. Our results imply that CRN2 represents a pro-invasive effector within the tumour cell microenvironment of glioblastoma multiforme.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejcb.2019.151046DOI Listing
December 2019

Soft windowing application to improve analysis of high-throughput phenotyping data.

Bioinformatics 2020 03;36(5):1492-1500

European Molecular Biology Laboratory, European Bioinformatics Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK.

Motivation: High-throughput phenomic projects generate complex data from small treatment and large control groups that increase the power of the analyses but introduce variation over time. A method is needed to utlize a set of temporally local controls that maximizes analytic power while minimizing noise from unspecified environmental factors.

Results: Here we introduce 'soft windowing', a methodological approach that selects a window of time that includes the most appropriate controls for analysis. Using phenotype data from the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC), adaptive windows were applied such that control data collected proximally to mutants were assigned the maximal weight, while data collected earlier or later had less weight. We applied this method to IMPC data and compared the results with those obtained from a standard non-windowed approach. Validation was performed using a resampling approach in which we demonstrate a 10% reduction of false positives from 2.5 million analyses. We applied the method to our production analysis pipeline that establishes genotype-phenotype associations by comparing mutant versus control data. We report an increase of 30% in significant P-values, as well as linkage to 106 versus 99 disease models via phenotype overlap with the soft-windowed and non-windowed approaches, respectively, from a set of 2082 mutant mouse lines. Our method is generalizable and can benefit large-scale human phenomic projects such as the UK Biobank and the All of Us resources.

Availability And Implementation: The method is freely available in the R package SmoothWin, available on CRAN http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=SmoothWin.

Supplementary Information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btz744DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7115897PMC
March 2020

Claudin-12 is not required for blood-brain barrier tight junction function.

Fluids Barriers CNS 2019 Sep 12;16(1):30. Epub 2019 Sep 12.

Theodor Kocher Institute, University of Bern, Freiestr. 1, 3012, Bern, Switzerland.

Background: The blood-brain barrier (BBB) ensures central nervous system (CNS) homeostasis by strictly controlling the passage of molecules and solutes from the bloodstream into the CNS. Complex and continuous tight junctions (TJs) between brain endothelial cells block uncontrolled paracellular diffusion of molecules across the BBB, with claudin-5 being its dominant TJs protein. However, claudin-5 deficient mice still display ultrastructurally normal TJs, suggesting the contribution of other claudins or tight-junction associated proteins in establishing BBB junctional complexes. Expression of claudin-12 at the BBB has been reported, however the exact function and subcellular localization of this atypical claudin remains unknown.

Methods: We created claudin-12-lacZ-knock-in C57BL/6J mice to explore expression of claudin-12 and its role in establishing BBB TJs function during health and neuroinflammation. We furthermore performed a broad standardized phenotypic check-up of the mouse mutant.

Results: Making use of the lacZ reporter allele, we found claudin-12 to be broadly expressed in numerous organs. In the CNS, expression of claudin-12 was detected in many cell types with very low expression in brain endothelium. Claudin-12 C57BL/6J mice lacking claudin-12 expression displayed an intact BBB and did not show any signs of BBB dysfunction or aggravated neuroinflammation in an animal model for multiple sclerosis. Determining the precise localization of claudin-12 at the BBB was prohibited by the fact that available anti-claudin-12 antibodies showed comparable detection and staining patterns in tissues from wild-type and claudin-12 C57BL/6J mice.

Conclusions: Our present study thus shows that claudin-12 is not essential in establishing or maintaining BBB TJs integrity. Claudin-12 is rather expressed in cells that typically lack TJs suggesting that claudin-12 plays a role other than forming classical TJs. At the same time, in depth phenotypic screening of clinically relevant organ functions of claudin-12 C57BL/6J mice suggested the involvement of claudin-12 in some neurological but, more prominently, in cardiovascular functions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12987-019-0150-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6739961PMC
September 2019

Low catalytic activity is insufficient to induce disease pathology in triosephosphate isomerase deficiency.

J Inherit Metab Dis 2019 09 11;42(5):839-849. Epub 2019 Jun 11.

The Molecular Biology of Metabolism Laboratory, Francis Crick Institute, London, UK.

Triosephosphate isomerase (TPI) deficiency is a fatal genetic disorder characterized by hemolytic anemia and neurological dysfunction. Although the enzyme defect in TPI was discovered in the 1960s, the exact etiology of the disease is still debated. Some aspects indicate the disease could be caused by insufficient enzyme activity, whereas other observations indicate it could be a protein misfolding disease with tissue-specific differences in TPI activity. We generated a mouse model in which exchange of a conserved catalytic amino acid residue (isoleucine to valine, Ile170Val) reduces TPI specific activity without affecting the stability of the protein dimer. TPI mice exhibit an approximately 85% reduction in TPI activity consistently across all examined tissues, which is a stronger average, but more consistent, activity decline than observed in patients or symptomatic mouse models that carry structural defect mutant alleles. While monitoring protein expression levels revealed no evidence for protein instability, metabolite quantification indicated that glycolysis is affected by the active site mutation. TPI mice develop normally and show none of the disease symptoms associated with TPI deficiency. Therefore, without the stability defect that affects TPI activity in a tissue-specific manner, a strong decline in TPI catalytic activity is not sufficient to explain the pathological onset of TPI deficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jimd.12105DOI Listing
September 2019

Genes Whose Gain or Loss-of-Function Increases Endurance Performance in Mice: A Systematic Literature Review.

Front Physiol 2019 22;10:262. Epub 2019 Mar 22.

Exercise Biology Group, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

Endurance is not only a key factor in many sports but endurance-related variables are also associated with good health and low mortality. Twin and family studies suggest that several endurance-associated traits are ≈50% inherited. However, we still poorly understand what DNA sequence variants contribute to endurance heritability. To address this issue, we conducted a systematic review to identify genes whose experimental loss or gain-of-function increases endurance capacity in mice. We found 31 genes including two isoforms of whose manipulation increases running or swimming endurance performance by up to 1800%. Genes whose gain-of-function increases endurance are , (Pepck) (both the a and b isoforms of the protein Pgc-1α), (calcineurin) & . Genes whose loss-of-function increases endurance in mice are . Of these genes, human DNA sequence variants of , , , , , , , , and are also associated with endurance capacity and/or VOmax trainability suggesting evolutionary conservation between mice and humans. Bioinformatical analyses show that there are numerous amino acid or copy number-changing DNA variants of endurance genes in humans, suggesting that genetic variation of endurance genes contributes to the variation of human endurance capacity, too. Moreover, several of these genes/proteins change their expression or phosphorylation in skeletal muscle or the heart after endurance exercise, suggesting a role in the adaptation to endurance exercise.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00262DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6439621PMC
March 2019

Measuring and Interpreting Oxygen Consumption Rates in Whole Fly Head Segments.

J Vis Exp 2019 01 7(143). Epub 2019 Jan 7.

Laboratory for Metabolism and Epigenetics in Aging, Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN); Laboratory for Metabolism and Epigenetics in Brain Aging, Institute of Neuroregeneration & Neurorehabilitation of Qingdao University; Molecular Biology Division, Biomedical Center, Faculty of Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich;

Regulated metabolic activity is essential for the normal functioning of living cells. Indeed, altered metabolic activity is causally linked with the progression of cancer, diabetes, neurodegeneration, and aging to name a few. For instance, changes in mitochondrial activity, the cell's metabolic powerhouse, have been characterized in many such diseases. Generally, the oxygen consumption rates of mitochondria were considered a reliable readout of mitochondrial activity and measurements in some of these studies were based on isolated mitochondria or cells. However, such conditions may not represent the complexity of a whole tissue. Recently, we have developed a novel method that enables the dynamic measurement of oxygen consumption rates from whole isolated fly heads. By utilizing this method, we have recorded lower oxygen consumption rates of the whole head segment in young versus aged flies. Secondly, we have discovered that lysine deacetylase inhibitors rapidly alter the oxygen consumption in the whole head. Our novel technique may therefore aid in uncovering new properties of various drugs, which may impact metabolic rates. Furthermore, our method may give a better understanding of metabolic behavior in an experimental setup that more closely resembles physiological states.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/58601DOI Listing
January 2019

A mouse model for intellectual disability caused by mutations in the X-linked 2'‑O‑methyltransferase Ftsj1 gene.

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis 2019 09 14;1865(9):2083-2093. Epub 2018 Dec 14.

Department of Functional Genomics, Interfaculty Institute of Genetics and Functional Genomics, University Medicine Greifswald, Felix-Hausdorff-Strasse 8, 17489 Greifswald, Germany.

Mutations in the X chromosomal tRNA 2'‑O‑methyltransferase FTSJ1 cause intellectual disability (ID). Although the gene is ubiquitously expressed affected individuals present no consistent clinical features beyond ID. In order to study the pathological mechanism involved in the aetiology of FTSJ1 deficiency-related cognitive impairment, we generated and characterized an Ftsj1 deficient mouse line based on the gene trapped stem cell line RRD143. Apart from an impaired learning capacity these mice presented with several statistically significantly altered features related to behaviour, pain sensing, bone and energy metabolism, the immune and the hormone system as well as gene expression. These findings show that Ftsj1 deficiency in mammals is not phenotypically restricted to the brain but affects various organ systems. Re-examination of ID patients with FTSJ1 mutations from two previously reported families showed that several features observed in the mouse model were recapitulated in some of the patients. Though the clinical spectrum related to Ftsj1 deficiency in mouse and man is variable, we suggest that an increased pain threshold may be more common in patients with FTSJ1 deficiency. Our findings demonstrate novel roles for Ftsj1 in maintaining proper cellular and tissue functions in a mammalian organism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2018.12.011DOI Listing
September 2019

Neuron-specific inactivation of alters locomotion in mice and changes interneuron composition in the spinal cord.

Life Sci Alliance 2018 Aug 16;1(4):e201800106. Epub 2018 Aug 16.

Molecular Genetics Lab, Leibniz Institute on Aging-Fritz Lipmann Institute, Jena, Germany.

Locomotion is coordinated by neuronal circuits of the spinal cord. Recently, dI6 neurons were shown to participate in the control of locomotion. A subpopulation of dI6 neurons expresses the Wilms tumor suppressor gene . However, the function of Wt1 in these cells is not understood. Here, we aimed to identify behavioral changes and cellular alterations in the spinal cord associated with deletion. Locomotion analyses of mice with neuron-specific deletion revealed a slower walk with a decreased stride frequency and an increased stride length. These mice showed changes in their fore-/hindlimb coordination, which were accompanied by a loss of contralateral projections in the spinal cord. Neonates with deletion displayed an increase in uncoordinated hindlimb movements and their motor neuron output was arrhythmic with a decreased frequency. The population size of dI6, V0, and V2a neurons in the developing spinal cord of conditional mutants was significantly altered. These results show that the development of particular dI6 neurons depends on expression and that loss of is associated with alterations in locomotion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.26508/lsa.201800106DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6238623PMC
August 2018

The heterozygous R155C VCP mutation: Toxic in humans! Harmless in mice?

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2018 09 9;503(4):2770-2777. Epub 2018 Aug 9.

Institute of Neuropathology, University Hospital Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, 91054, Erlangen, Germany. Electronic address:

Heterozygous missense mutations in the human VCP gene cause inclusion body myopathy associated with Paget disease of bone and fronto-temporal dementia (IBMPFD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The exact molecular mechanisms by which VCP mutations cause disease manifestation in different tissues are incompletely understood. In the present study, we report the comprehensive analysis of a newly generated R155C VCP knock-in mouse model, which expresses the ortholog of the second most frequently occurring human pathogenic VCP mutation. Heterozygous R155C VCP knock-in mice showed decreased plasma lactate, serum albumin and total protein concentrations, platelet numbers, and liver to body weight ratios, and increased oxygen consumption and CD8+/Ly6C + T-cell fractions, but none of the typical human IBMPFD or ALS pathologies. Breeding of heterozygous mice did not yield in the generation of homozygous R155C VCP knock-in animals. Immunoblotting showed identical total VCP protein levels in human IBMPFD and murine R155C VCP knock-in tissues as compared to wild-type controls. However, while in human IBMPFD skeletal muscle tissue 70% of the total VCP mRNA was derived from the mutant allele, in R155C VCP knock-in mice only 5% and 7% mutant mRNA were detected in skeletal muscle and brain tissue, respectively. The lack of any obvious IBMPFD or ALS pathology could thus be a consequence of the very low expression of mutant VCP. We conclude that the increased and decreased fractions of the R155C mutant VCP mRNA in man and mice, respectively, are due to missense mutation-induced, divergent alterations in the biological half-life of the human and murine mutant mRNAs. Furthermore, our work suggests that therapy approaches lowering the expression of the mutant VCP mRNA below a critical threshold may ameliorate the intrinsic disease pathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2018.08.038DOI Listing
September 2018

Genes Whose Gain or Loss-Of-Function Increases Skeletal Muscle Mass in Mice: A Systematic Literature Review.

Front Physiol 2018 22;9:553. Epub 2018 May 22.

Exercise Biology Group, Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

Skeletal muscle mass differs greatly in mice and humans and this is partially inherited. To identify muscle hypertrophy candidate genes we conducted a systematic review to identify genes whose experimental loss or gain-of-function results in significant skeletal muscle hypertrophy in mice. We found 47 genes that meet our search criteria and cause muscle hypertrophy after gene manipulation. They are from high to small effect size: . Knock out, knock down, overexpression or a higher activity of these genes causes overall muscle hypertrophy as measured by an increased muscle weight or cross sectional area. The mean effect sizes range from 5 to 345% depending on the manipulated gene as well as the muscle size variable and muscle investigated. Bioinformatical analyses reveal that are most highly expressed hypertrophy genes in human skeletal muscle when compared to other tissues. Many of the muscle hypertrophy-regulating genes are involved in transcription and ubiquitination. Especially genes belonging to three signaling pathways are able to induce hypertrophy: (a) Igf1-Akt-mTOR pathway, (b) myostatin-Smad signaling, and (c) the angiotensin-bradykinin signaling pathway. The expression of several muscle hypertrophy-inducing genes and the phosphorylation of their protein products changes after human resistance and high intensity exercise, in maximally stimulated mouse muscle or in overloaded mouse plantaris.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2018.00553DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992403PMC
May 2018

RNase H2 Loss in Murine Astrocytes Results in Cellular Defects Reminiscent of Nucleic Acid-Mediated Autoinflammation.

Front Immunol 2018 29;9:587. Epub 2018 Mar 29.

Medical Faculty, Institute of Biochemistry, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Kiel, Germany.

Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS) is a rare early onset childhood encephalopathy caused by persistent neuroinflammation of autoimmune origin. AGS is a genetic disorder and >50% of affected individuals bear hypomorphic mutations in ribonuclease H2 (RNase H2). All available RNase H2 mouse models so far fail to mimic the prominent CNS involvement seen in AGS. To establish a mouse model recapitulating the human disease, we deleted RNase H2 specifically in the brain, the most severely affected organ in AGS. Although RNase H2 mice lacked the nuclease in astrocytes and a majority of neurons, no disease signs were apparent in these animals. We additionally confirmed these results in a second, neuron-specific RNase H2 knockout mouse line. However, when astrocytes were isolated from brains of RNase H2 mice and cultured under mitogenic conditions, they showed signs of DNA damage and premature senescence. Enhanced expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) represents the most reliable AGS biomarker. Importantly, primary RNase H2 astrocytes displayed significantly increased ISG transcript levels, which we failed to detect in in brains of RNase H2 mice. Isolated astrocytes primed by DNA damage, including RNase H2-deficiency, exhibited a heightened innate immune response when exposed to bacterial or viral antigens. Taken together, we established a valid cellular AGS model that utilizes the very cell type responsible for disease pathology, the astrocyte, and phenocopies major molecular defects observed in AGS patient cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.00587DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5890188PMC
May 2019

Laboratory mouse housing conditions can be improved using common environmental enrichment without compromising data.

PLoS Biol 2018 04 16;16(4):e2005019. Epub 2018 Apr 16.

German Mouse Clinic, Institute of Experimental Genetics, Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany.

Animal welfare requires the adequate housing of animals to ensure health and well-being. The application of environmental enrichment is a way to improve the well-being of laboratory animals. However, it is important to know whether these enrichment items can be incorporated in experimental mouse husbandry without creating a divide between past and future experimental results. Previous small-scale studies have been inconsistent throughout the literature, and it is not yet completely understood whether and how enrichment might endanger comparability of results of scientific experiments. Here, we measured the effect on means and variability of 164 physiological parameters in 3 conditions: with nesting material with or without a shelter, comparing these 2 conditions to a "barren" regime without any enrichments. We studied a total of 360 mice from each of 2 mouse strains (C57BL/6NTac and DBA/2NCrl) and both sexes for each of the 3 conditions. Our study indicates that enrichment affects the mean values of some of the 164 parameters with no consistent effects on variability. However, the influence of enrichment appears negligible compared to the effects of other influencing factors. Therefore, nesting material and shelters may be used to improve animal welfare without impairment of experimental outcome or loss of comparability to previous data collected under barren housing conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2005019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5922977PMC
April 2018

Rapid and transient oxygen consumption increase following acute HDAC/KDAC inhibition in Drosophila tissue.

Sci Rep 2018 03 8;8(1):4199. Epub 2018 Mar 8.

Munich Center of Integrated Protein Science and Biomedical Center, Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, Planegg-Martinsried, 80336, Germany.

Epigenetic deregulation, such as the reduction of histone acetylation levels, is thought to be causally linked to various maladies associated with aging. Consequently, histone deacetylase inhibitors are suggested to serve as epigenetic therapy by increasing histone acetylation. However, previous work suggests that many non-histone proteins, including metabolic enzymes, are also acetylated and that post transitional modifications may impact their activity. Furthermore, deacetylase inhibitors were recently shown to impact the acetylation of a variety of proteins. By utilizing a novel technique to measure oxygen consumption rate from whole living tissue, we demonstrate that treatment of whole living fly heads by the HDAC/KDAC inhibitors sodium butyrate and Trichostatin A, induces a rapid and transient increase of oxygen consumption rate. In addition, our study indicates that the rate increase is markedly attenuated in midlife fly head tissue. Overall, our data suggest that HDAC/KDAC inhibitors may induce enhanced mitochondrial activity in a rapid manner. This observed metabolic boost provides further, but novel evidence, that treating various maladies with deacetylase inhibitors may be beneficial.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-22674-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5843646PMC
March 2018

Female mice lacking Pald1 exhibit endothelial cell apoptosis and emphysema.

Sci Rep 2017 11 13;7(1):15453. Epub 2017 Nov 13.

Science for life laboratory, Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, The Rudbeck laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Paladin (Pald1, mKIAA1274 or x99384) was identified in screens for vascular-specific genes and is a putative phosphatase. Paladin has also been proposed to be involved in various biological processes such as insulin signaling, innate immunity and neural crest migration. To determine the role of paladin we have now characterized the Pald1 knock-out mouse in a broad array of behavioral, physiological and biochemical tests. Here, we show that female, but not male, Pald1 heterozygous and homozygous knock-out mice display an emphysema-like histology with increased alveolar air spaces and impaired lung function with an obstructive phenotype. In contrast to many other tissues where Pald1 is restricted to the vascular compartment, Pald1 is expressed in both the epithelial and mesenchymal compartments of the postnatal lung. However, in Pald1 knock-out females, there is a specific increase in apoptosis and proliferation of endothelial cells, but not in non-endothelial cells. This results in a transient reduction of endothelial cells in the maturing lung. Our data suggests that Pald1 is required during lung vascular development and for normal function of the developing and adult lung in a sex-specific manner. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a sex-specific effect on endothelial cell apoptosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-14894-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5684320PMC
November 2017

Understanding gene functions and disease mechanisms: Phenotyping pipelines in the German Mouse Clinic.

Behav Brain Res 2018 10 29;352:187-196. Epub 2017 Sep 29.

German Mouse Clinic, Institute of Experimental Genetics, Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Ingolstädter-Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany; German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), Ingolstädter-Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany; Chair of Experimental Genetics, School of Life Science Weihenstephan, Technische Universität München, Alte Akademie 8, 85354 Freising, Germany. Electronic address:

Since decades, model organisms have provided an important approach for understanding the mechanistic basis of human diseases. The German Mouse Clinic (GMC) was the first phenotyping facility that established a collaboration-based platform for phenotype characterization of mouse lines. In order to address individual projects by a tailor-made phenotyping strategy, the GMC advanced in developing a series of pipelines with tests for the analysis of specific disease areas. For a general broad analysis, there is a screening pipeline that covers the key parameters for the most relevant disease areas. For hypothesis-driven phenotypic analyses, there are thirteen additional pipelines with focus on neurological and behavioral disorders, metabolic dysfunction, respiratory system malfunctions, immune-system disorders and imaging techniques. In this article, we give an overview of the pipelines and describe the scientific rationale behind the different test combinations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2017.09.048DOI Listing
October 2018

The BEACH protein LRBA is required for hair bundle maintenance in cochlear hair cells and for hearing.

EMBO Rep 2017 11 11;18(11):2015-2029. Epub 2017 Sep 11.

Auditory Systems Physiology Group Department of Otolaryngology University Medical Center Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

Lipopolysaccharide-responsive beige-like anchor protein (LRBA) belongs to the enigmatic class of BEACH domain-containing proteins, which have been attributed various cellular functions, typically involving intracellular protein and membrane transport processes. Here, we show that LRBA deficiency in mice leads to progressive sensorineural hearing loss. In LRBA knockout mice, inner and outer hair cell stereociliary bundles initially develop normally, but then partially degenerate during the second postnatal week. LRBA deficiency is associated with a reduced abundance of radixin and Nherf2, two adaptor proteins, which are important for the mechanical stability of the basal taper region of stereocilia. Our data suggest that due to the loss of structural integrity of the central parts of the hair bundle, the hair cell receptor potential is reduced, resulting in a loss of cochlear sensitivity and functional loss of the fraction of spiral ganglion neurons with low spontaneous firing rates. Clinical data obtained from two human patients with protein-truncating nonsense or frameshift mutations suggest that LRBA deficiency may likewise cause syndromic sensorineural hearing impairment in humans, albeit less severe than in our mouse model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.15252/embr.201643689DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5666617PMC
November 2017

Standardized, systemic phenotypic analysis reveals kidney dysfunction as main alteration of Kctd1 mutant mice.

J Biomed Sci 2017 Aug 17;24(1):57. Epub 2017 Aug 17.

Chair for Molecular Animal Breeding and Biotechnology, and Laboratory for Functional Genome Analysis, Gene Center, LMU Munich, 81377, Munich, Germany.

Background: Increased levels of blood plasma urea were used as phenotypic parameter for establishing novel mouse models for kidney diseases on the genetic background of C3H inbred mice in the phenotype-driven Munich ENU mouse mutagenesis project. The phenotypically dominant mutant line HST014 was established and further analyzed.

Methods: Analysis of the causative mutation as well as the standardized, systemic phenotypic analysis of the mutant line was carried out.

Results: The causative mutation was detected in the potassium channel tetramerization domain containing 1 (Kctd1) gene which leads to the amino acid exchange Kctd1 thereby affecting the functional BTB domain of the protein. This line is the first mouse model harboring a Kctd1 mutation. Kctd1 homozygous mutant mice die perinatally. Standardized, systemic phenotypic analysis of Kctd1 heterozygous mutants was carried out in the German Mouse Clinic (GMC). Systematic morphological investigation of the external physical appearance did not detect the specific alterations that are described in KCTD1 mutant human patients affected by the scalp-ear-nipple (SEN) syndrome. The main pathological phenotype of the Kctd1 heterozygous mutant mice consists of kidney dysfunction and secondary effects thereof, without gross additional primary alterations in the other phenotypic parameters analyzed. Genome-wide transcriptome profiling analysis at the age of 4 months revealed about 100 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in kidneys of Kctd1 heterozygous mutants as compared to wild-type controls.

Conclusions: In summary, the main alteration of the Kctd1 heterozygous mutants consists in kidney dysfunction. Additional analyses in 9-21 week-old heterozygous mutants revealed only few minor effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12929-017-0365-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5559776PMC
August 2017

Every-other-day feeding extends lifespan but fails to delay many symptoms of aging in mice.

Nat Commun 2017 07 24;8(1):155. Epub 2017 Jul 24.

DZNE, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Ludwig-Erhard-Allee 2, 53175, Bonn, Germany.

Dietary restriction regimes extend lifespan in various animal models. Here we show that longevity in male C57BL/6J mice subjected to every-other-day feeding is associated with a delayed onset of neoplastic disease that naturally limits lifespan in these animals. We compare more than 200 phenotypes in over 20 tissues in aged animals fed with a lifelong every-other-day feeding or ad libitum access to food diet to determine whether molecular, cellular, physiological and histopathological aging features develop more slowly in every-other-day feeding mice than in controls. We also analyze the effects of every-other-day feeding on young mice on shorter-term every-other-day feeding or ad libitum to account for possible aging-independent restriction effects. Our large-scale analysis reveals overall only limited evidence for a retardation of the aging rate in every-other-day feeding mice. The data indicate that every-other-day feeding-induced longevity is sufficiently explained by delays in life-limiting neoplastic disorders and is not associated with a more general slowing of the aging process in mice.Dietary restriction can extend the life of various model organisms. Here, Xie et al. show that intermittent periods of fasting achieved through every-other-day feeding protect mice against neoplastic disease but do not broadly delay organismal aging in animals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-00178-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537224PMC
July 2017

Fgf9 Mutation Alters Information Processing and Social Memory in Mice.

Mol Neurobiol 2018 Jun 10;55(6):4580-4595. Epub 2017 Jul 10.

Institutes of Developmental Genetics, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Neuherberg, Germany.

In neuropsychiatric diseases, such as major depression and anxiety, pathogenic vulnerability is partially dictated by a genetic predisposition. The search continues to define this genetic susceptibility and establish new genetic elements as potential therapeutic targets. The fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) could be interesting in this regard. This family of signaling molecules plays important roles in development while also functioning within the adult. This includes effects on aspects of brain function such as neurogenesis and synapse formation. Of this family, Fgf9 is expressed in the adult brain, but its functional role is less well defined. In this study, we examined the role of Fgf9 in different brain functions by analyzing the behavior of Fgf9 mutant mice, an Fgf9 allele without the confounding systemic effects of other Fgf9 genetic models. Here, we show that this mutation caused altered locomotor and exploratory reactivity to novel, mildly stressful environments. In addition, mutants showed heightened acoustic startle reactivity as well as impaired social discrimination memory. Notably, there was a substantial decrease in the level of adult olfactory bulb neurogenesis with no difference in hippocampal neurogenesis. Collectively, our findings indicate a role for the Fgf9 mutation in information processing and perception of aversive situations as well as in social memory. Thus, genetic alterations in Fgf9 could increase vulnerability to developing neuropsychiatric disease, and we propose the Fgf9 mutant mice as a valuable tool to study the predictive etiological aspects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12035-017-0659-3DOI Listing
June 2018

: effects on motor phenotypes and the sensorimotor system in mice.

Dis Model Mech 2017 08 23;10(8):981-991. Epub 2017 Jun 23.

Institute of Neurogenomics, Helmholtz Zentrum München, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany

encodes a developmental transcription factor and has been linked to restless legs syndrome (RLS) in genome-wide association studies. RLS is a movement disorder leading to severe sleep reduction and has a substantial impact on the quality of life of patients. In genome-wide association studies, has consistently been the gene with the highest effect size and functional studies suggest a disease-relevant downregulation. Therefore, haploinsufficiency of could be the system with the most potential for modeling RLS in animals. We used heterozygous -knockout mice to study the effects of haploinsufficiency on mouse behavioral and neurological phenotypes, and to relate the findings to human RLS. We exposed the -deficient mice to assays of motor, sensorimotor and cognitive ability, and assessed the effect of a dopaminergic receptor 2/3 agonist commonly used in the treatment of RLS. The mutant mice showed a pattern of circadian hyperactivity, which is compatible with human RLS. Moreover, we discovered a replicable prepulse inhibition (PPI) deficit in the -deficient animals. In addition, these mice were hyposensitive to the PPI-reducing effect of the dopaminergic receptor agonist, highlighting a role of Meis1 in the dopaminergic system. Other reported phenotypes include enhanced social recognition at an older age that was not related to alterations in adult olfactory bulb neurogenesis previously shown to be implicated in this behavior. In conclusion, the -deficient mice fulfill some of the hallmarks of an RLS animal model, and revealed the role of Meis1 in sensorimotor gating and in the dopaminergic systems modulating it.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/dmm.030080DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5560065PMC
August 2017

Analysis of locomotor behavior in the German Mouse Clinic.

J Neurosci Methods 2018 04 5;300:77-91. Epub 2017 May 5.

German Mouse Clinic, Institute of Experimental Genetics, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Ingolstaedter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany; Institute of Developmental Genetics, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Ingolstaedter Landstr.1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany.

Background: Generation and phenotyping of mutant mouse models continues to increase along with the search for the most efficient phenotyping tests. Here we asked if a combination of different locomotor tests is necessary for comprehensive locomotor phenotyping, or if a large data set from an automated gait analysis with the CatWalk system would suffice.

New Method: First we endeavored to meaningfully reduce the large CatWalk data set by Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to decide on the most relevant parameters. We analyzed the influence of sex, body weight, genetic background and age. Then a combination of different locomotor tests was analyzed to investigate the possibility of redundancy between tests.

Result: The extracted 10 components describe 80% of the total variance in the CatWalk, characterizing different aspects of gait. With these, effects of CatWalk version, sex, body weight, age and genetic background were detected. In addition, the PCA on a combination of locomotor tests suggests that these are independent without significant redundancy in their locomotor measures.

Comparison With Existing Methods: The PCA has permitted the refinement of the highly dimensional CatWalk (and other tests) data set for the extraction of individual component scores and subsequent analysis.

Conclusion: The outcome of the PCA suggests the possibility to focus on measures of the front and hind paws, and one measure of coordination in future experiments to detect phenotypic differences. Furthermore, although the CatWalk is sensitive for detecting locomotor phenotypes pertaining to gait, it is necessary to include other tests for comprehensive locomotor phenotyping.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneumeth.2017.05.005DOI Listing
April 2018

Spinal poly-GA inclusions in a C9orf72 mouse model trigger motor deficits and inflammation without neuron loss.

Acta Neuropathol 2017 08 13;134(2):241-254. Epub 2017 Apr 13.

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) Munich, Feodor-Lynen-Straße 17, 81377, Munich, Germany.

Translation of the expanded (ggggcc) repeat in C9orf72 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) causes abundant poly-GA inclusions. To elucidate their role in pathogenesis, we generated transgenic mice expressing codon-modified (GA) conjugated with cyan fluorescent protein (CFP). Transgenic mice progressively developed poly-GA inclusions predominantly in motoneurons and interneurons of the spinal cord and brain stem and in deep cerebellar nuclei. Poly-GA co-aggregated with p62, Rad23b and the newly identified Mlf2, in both mouse and patient samples. Consistent with the expression pattern, 4-month-old transgenic mice showed abnormal gait and progressive balance impairment, but showed normal hippocampus-dependent learning and memory. Apart from microglia activation we detected phosphorylated TDP-43 but no neuronal loss. Thus, poly-GA triggers behavioral deficits through inflammation and protein sequestration that likely contribute to the prodromal symptoms and disease progression of C9orf72 patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-017-1711-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5508040PMC
August 2017

Interplay between H1 and HMGN epigenetically regulates OLIG1&2 expression and oligodendrocyte differentiation.

Nucleic Acids Res 2017 04;45(6):3031-3045

Protein Section, Laboratory of Metabolism, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

An interplay between the nucleosome binding proteins H1 and HMGN is known to affect chromatin dynamics, but the biological significance of this interplay is still not clear. We find that during embryonic stem cell differentiation loss of HMGNs leads to down regulation of genes involved in neural differentiation, and that the transcription factor OLIG2 is a central node in the affected pathway. Loss of HMGNs affects the expression of OLIG2 as well as that of OLIG1, two transcription factors that are crucial for oligodendrocyte lineage specification and nerve myelination. Loss of HMGNs increases the chromatin binding of histone H1, thereby recruiting the histone methyltransferase EZH2 and elevating H3K27me3 levels, thus conferring a repressive epigenetic signature at Olig1&2 sites. Embryonic stem cells lacking HMGNs show reduced ability to differentiate towards the oligodendrocyte lineage, and mice lacking HMGNs show reduced oligodendrocyte count and decreased spinal cord myelination, and display related neurological phenotypes. Thus, the presence of HMGN proteins is required for proper expression of neural differentiation genes during embryonic stem cell differentiation. Specifically, we demonstrate that the dynamic interplay between HMGNs and H1 in chromatin epigenetically regulates the expression of OLIG1&2, thereby affecting oligodendrocyte development and myelination, and mouse behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkw1222DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5389484PMC
April 2017