Publications by authors named "Nikolaj Klöcker"

39 Publications

Location, Dissection, and Analysis of the Murine Stellate Ganglion.

J Vis Exp 2020 12 22(166). Epub 2020 Dec 22.

Division of Cardiology, EVK Düsseldorf, cNEP, cardiac Neuro- and Electrophysiology Research Consortium; DZHK (German Centre for Cardiovascular Research); Institute of Neural and Sensory Physiology, Medical Faculty, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf;

The autonomic nervous system is a substantial driver of cardiac electrophysiology. Especially the role of its sympathetic branch is an ongoing matter of investigation in the pathophysiology of ventricular arrhythmias (VA). Neurons in the stellate ganglia (SG) - bilateral star-shaped structures of the sympathetic chain - are an important component of the sympathetic infrastructure. The SG are a recognized target for treatment via cardiac sympathetic denervation in patients with therapy-refractory VA. While neuronal remodeling and glial activation in the SG have been described in patients with VA, the underlying cellular and molecular processes that potentially precede the onset of arrhythmia are only insufficiently understood and should be elucidated to improve autonomic modulation. Mouse models allow us to study sympathetic neuronal remodeling, but identification of the murine SG is challenging for the inexperienced investigator. Thus, in-depth cellular and molecular biological studies of the murine SG are lacking for many common cardiac diseases. Here, we describe a basic repertoire for dissecting and studying the SG in adult mice for analyses at RNA level (RNA isolation for gene expression analyses, in situ hybridization), protein level (immunofluorescent whole mount staining), and cellular level (basic morphology, cell size measurement). We present potential solutions to overcome challenges in the preparation technique, and how to improve staining via quenching of autofluorescence. This allows for the visualization of neurons as well as glial cells via established markers in order to determine cell composition and remodeling processes. The methods presented here allow characterizing the SG to gain further information on autonomic dysfunction in mice prone to VA and can be complemented by additional techniques investigating neuronal and glial components of the autonomic nervous system in the heart.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/62026DOI Listing
December 2020

Disease-associated HCN4 V759I variant is not sufficient to impair cardiac pacemaking.

Pflugers Arch 2020 12 23;472(12):1733-1742. Epub 2020 Oct 23.

Institute of Neurophysiology, Medical Faculty, University of Düsseldorf, Universitätsstr 1, 40225, Düsseldorf, Germany.

The hyperpolarization-activated cation current I is a key determinant for cardiac pacemaker activity. It is conducted by subunits of the hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channel family, of which HCN4 is predominant in mammalian heart. Both loss-of-function and gain-of-function mutations of the HCN4 gene are associated with sinus node dysfunction in humans; however, their functional impact is not fully understood yet. Here, we sought to characterize a HCN4 V759I variant detected in a patient with a family history of sick sinus syndrome. The genomic analysis yielded a mono-allelic HCN4 V759I variant in a 49-year-old woman presenting with a family history of sick sinus syndrome. This HCN4 variant was previously classified as putatively pathogenic because genetically linked to sudden infant death syndrome and malignant epilepsy. However, detailed electrophysiological and cell biological characterization of HCN4 V759I in Xenopus laevis oocytes and embryonic rat cardiomyocytes, respectively, did not reveal any obvious abnormality. Voltage dependence and kinetics of mutant channel activation, modulation of cAMP-gating by the neuronal HCN channel auxiliary subunit PEX5R, and cell surface expression were indistinguishable from wild-type HCN4. In good agreement, the clinically likewise affected mother of the patient does not exhibit the reported HCN4 variance. HCN4 V759I resembles an innocuous genetic HCN channel variant, which is not sufficient to disturb cardiac pacemaking. Once more, our work emphasizes the importance of careful functional interpretation of genetic findings not only in the context of hereditary cardiac arrhythmias.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00424-020-02481-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7691308PMC
December 2020

Hepatic encephalopathy is linked to alterations of autophagic flux in astrocytes.

EBioMedicine 2019 Oct 21;48:539-553. Epub 2019 Oct 21.

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Medical Faculty, Düsseldorf, Germany. Electronic address:

Background: Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a severe neuropsychiatric syndrome caused by various types of liver failure resulting in hyperammonemia-induced dysfunction of astrocytes. It is unclear whether autophagy, an important pro-survival pathway, is altered in the brains of ammonia-intoxicated animals as well as in HE patients.

Methods: Using primary rat astrocytes, a co-culture model of primary mouse astrocytes and neurons, an in vivo rat HE model, and post mortem brain samples of liver cirrhosis patients with HE we analyzed whether and how hyperammonemia modulates autophagy.

Findings: We show that autophagic flux is efficiently inhibited after administration of ammonia in astrocytes. This occurs in a fast, reversible, time-, dose-, and ROS-dependent manner and is mediated by ammonia-induced changes in intralysosomal pH. Autophagic flux is also strongly inhibited in the cerebral cortex of rats after acute ammonium intoxication corroborating our results using an in vivo rat HE model. Transglutaminase 2 (TGM2), a factor promoting autophagy, is upregulated in astrocytes of in vitro- and in vivo-HE models as well as in post mortem brain samples of liver cirrhosis patients with HE, but not in patients without HE. LC3, a commonly used autophagy marker, is significantly increased in the brain of HE patients. Ammonia also modulated autophagy moderately in neuronal cells. We show that taurine, known to ameliorate several parameters caused by hyperammonemia in patients suffering from liver failure, is highly potent in reducing ammonia-induced impairment of autophagic flux. This protective effect of taurine is apparently not linked to inhibition of mTOR signaling but rather to reducing ammonia-induced ROS formation.

Interpretation: Our data support a model in which autophagy aims to counteract ammonia-induced toxicity, yet, as acidification of lysosomes is impaired, possible protective effects thereof, are hampered. We propose that modulating autophagy in astrocytes and/or neurons, e.g. by taurine, represents a novel strategy to treat liver diseases associated with HE.

Funding: Supported by the DFG, CRC974 "Communication and Systems Relevance in Liver Injury and Regeneration", Düsseldorf (Project number 190586431) Projects A05 (DH), B04 (BG), B05 (NK), and B09 (ASR).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.09.058DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6838440PMC
October 2019

Sign Inversion in Photopharmacology: Incorporation of Cyclic Azobenzenes in Photoswitchable Potassium Channel Blockers and Openers.

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 2019 10 12;58(43):15421-15428. Epub 2019 Sep 12.

Department of Chemistry and Center for Integrated Protein Science (CIPSM), Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Butenandtstr. 5-13, 81377, Munich, Germany.

Photopharmacology relies on ligands that change their pharmacodynamics upon photoisomerization. Many of these ligands are azobenzenes that are thermodynamically more stable in their elongated trans-configuration. Often, they are biologically active in this form and lose activity upon irradiation and photoisomerization to their cis-isomer. Recently, cyclic azobenzenes, so-called diazocines, have emerged, which are thermodynamically more stable in their bent cis-form. Incorporation of these switches into a variety of photopharmaceuticals could convert dark-active ligands into dark-inactive ligands, which is preferred in most biological applications. This "pharmacological sign-inversion" is demonstrated for a photochromic blocker of voltage-gated potassium channels, termed CAL, and a photochromic opener of G protein-coupled inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channels, termed CLOGO.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201905790DOI Listing
October 2019

Isoform-specific Inhibition of N-methyl-D-aspartate Receptors by Bile Salts.

Sci Rep 2019 07 11;9(1):10068. Epub 2019 Jul 11.

Institute of Neural and Sensory Physiology, Medical Faculty, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, 40225, Düsseldorf, Germany.

The N-methyl-D-aspartate subfamily of ionotropic glutamate receptors (NMDARs) is well known for its important roles in the central nervous system (CNS), e.g. learning and memory formation. Besides the CNS, NMDARs are also expressed in numerous peripheral tissues including the pancreas, kidney, stomach, and blood cells, where an understanding of their physiological and pathophysiological roles is only evolving. Whereas subunit composition increases functional diversity of NMDARs, a great number of endogenous cues tune receptor signaling. Here, we characterized the effects of the steroid bile salts cholate and chenodeoxycholate (CDC) on recombinantly expressed NMDARs of defined molecular composition. CDC inhibited NMDARs in an isoform-dependent manner, preferring GluN2D and GluN3B over GluN2A and GluN2B receptors. Determined IC values were in the range of bile salt serum concentrations in severe cholestatic disease states, pointing at a putative pathophysiological significance of the identified receptor modulation. Both pharmacological and molecular simulation analyses indicate that CDC acts allosterically on GluN2D, whereas it competes with agonist binding on GluN3B receptors. Such differential modes of inhibition may allow isoform-specific targeted interference with the NMDAR/bile salt interaction. In summary, our study provides further molecular insight into the modulation of NMDARs by endogenous steroids and points at a putative pathophysiological role of the receptors in cholestatic disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-46496-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6624251PMC
July 2019

Cardiac glial cells release neurotrophic S100B upon catheter-based treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Sci Transl Med 2019 05;11(493)

Department of Cardiology-Electrophysiology, cNEP (cardiac Neuro- and Electrophysiology research group), University Heart Centre, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.

Atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common sustained heart rhythm disorder worldwide, is linked to dysfunction of the intrinsic cardiac autonomic nervous system (ICNS). The role of ICNS damage occurring during catheter-based treatment of AF, which is the therapy of choice for many patients, remains controversial. We show here that the neuronal injury marker S100B is expressed in cardiac glia throughout the ICNS and is released specifically upon catheter ablation of AF. Patients with higher S100B release were more likely to be AF free during follow-up. Subsequent in vitro studies revealed that murine intracardiac neurons react to S100B with diminished action potential firing and increased neurite growth. This suggests that release of S100B from cardiac glia upon catheter-based treatment of AF is a hallmark of acute neural damage that contributes to nerve sprouting and can be used to assess ICNS damage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aav7770DOI Listing
May 2019

Heterogeneity of the astrocytic AMPA-receptor transcriptome.

Glia 2018 12 28;66(12):2604-2616. Epub 2018 Oct 28.

Institute of Neural and Sensory Physiology, Medical Faculty, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.

Astrocytes form the largest class of glial cells in the central nervous system. They serve plenty of diverse functions that range from supporting the formation and proper operation of synapses to controlling the blood-brain barrier. For many of them, the expression of ionotropic glutamate receptors of the AMPA subtype (AMPARs) in astrocytes is of key importance. AMPARs form as macromolecular protein complexes, whose composition of the pore-lining GluA subunits and of an extensive set of core and peripheral complex constituents defines both their trafficking and gating behavior. Although astrocytic AMPARs have been reported to exhibit heterogeneous properties, their molecular composition is largely unknown. In this study, we sought to quantify the astrocytic AMPAR transcriptome during brain development and with respect to selected brain regions. Whereas the early postnatal pattern of AMPAR mRNA expression showed minor variation over time, it did show significant heterogeneity in different brain regions. Cerebellar astrocytes express a combination of AMPAR complex constituents that is remarkably distinct from the one in neocortical or hippocampal astrocytes. Our study provides a workflow and a first reference for future investigations into the molecular and functional diversity of glial AMPARs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/glia.23514DOI Listing
December 2018

Human Autoantibodies against the AMPA Receptor Subunit GluA2 Induce Receptor Reorganization and Memory Dysfunction.

Neuron 2018 10 23;100(1):91-105.e9. Epub 2018 Aug 23.

Hans-Berger Department of Neurology, Jena University Hospital, Am Klinikum 1, 07747 Jena, Germany; Center for Sepsis Control and Care (CSCC), Jena University Hospital, Am Klinikum 1, 07747 Jena, Germany. Electronic address:

AMPA receptors are essential for fast excitatory transmission in the CNS. Autoantibodies to AMPA receptors have been identified in humans with autoimmune encephalitis and severe defects of hippocampal function. Here, combining electrophysiology and high-resolution imaging with neuronal culture preparations and passive-transfer models in wild-type and GluA1-knockout mice, we analyze how specific human autoantibodies against the AMPA receptor subunit GluA2 affect receptor function and composition, synaptic transmission, and plasticity. Anti-GluA2 antibodies induce receptor internalization and a reduction of synaptic GluA2-containing AMPARs followed by compensatory ryanodine receptor-dependent incorporation of synaptic non-GluA2 AMPARs. Furthermore, application of human pathogenic anti-GluA2 antibodies to mice impairs long-term synaptic plasticity in vitro and affects learning and memory in vivo. Our results identify a specific immune-neuronal rearrangement of AMPA receptor subunits, providing a framework to explain disease symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2018.07.048DOI Listing
October 2018

A modified approach for programmed electrical stimulation in mice: Inducibility of ventricular arrhythmias.

PLoS One 2018 22;13(8):e0201910. Epub 2018 Aug 22.

Division of Cardiology, Pulmonology and Vascular Medicine, Medical Faculty, University Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany.

Background: Electrophysiological studies in mice, the prevailing model organism in the field of basic cardiovascular research, are impeded by the low yield of programmed electrical stimulation (PES).

Objective: To investigate a modified approach for ventricular arrhythmia (VA) induction and a novel scoring system in mice.

Method: A systematic review of literature on current methods for PES in mice searching the PubMed database revealed that VA inducibility was low and ranged widely (4.6 ± 10.7%). Based on this literature review, a modified PES protocol with 3 to 10 extrastimuli was developed and tested in comparison to the conventional PES protocol using up to 3 extrastimuli in anesthetized wildtype mice (C57BL/6J, n = 12). Induced VA, classified according to the Lambeth Convention, were assessed by established arrhythmia scores as well as a novel arrhythmia score based on VA duration.

Results: PES with the modified approach raised both the occurrence and the duration of VA compared to conventional PES (0% vs 50%; novel VA score p = 0.0002). Particularly, coupling of >6 extrastimuli raised the induction of VA. Predominantly, premature ventricular complexes (n = 6) and ventricular tachycardia <1s (n = 4) were observed. Repeated PES after adrenergic stimulation using isoprenaline resulted in enhanced induction of ventricular tachycardia <1s in both protocols.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the presented approach of modified PES enables effective induction and quantification of VA in wildtype mice and may well be suited to document and evaluate detailed VA characteristics in mice.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0201910PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6104969PMC
February 2019

Optical control of L-type Ca channels using a diltiazem photoswitch.

Nat Chem Biol 2018 08 16;14(8):764-767. Epub 2018 Jul 16.

Department of Chemistry, University of Munich and Center for Integrated Protein Science (CIPSM), Munich, Germany.

L-type Ca channels (LTCCs) play a crucial role in excitation-contraction coupling and release of hormones from secretory cells. They are targets of antihypertensive and antiarrhythmic drugs such as diltiazem. Here, we present a photoswitchable diltiazem, FHU-779, which can be used to reversibly block endogenous LTCCs by light. FHU-779 is as potent as diltiazem and can be used to place pancreatic β-cell function and cardiac activity under optical control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41589-018-0090-8DOI Listing
August 2018

NMDAR encephalitis: passive transfer from man to mouse by a recombinant antibody.

Ann Clin Transl Neurol 2017 11 3;4(11):768-783. Epub 2017 Oct 3.

Department of Neurology Medical Faculty Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf Düsseldorf Germany.

Objective: Autoimmune encephalitis is most frequently associated with anti-NMDAR autoantibodies. Their pathogenic relevance has been suggested by passive transfer of patients' cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in mice in vivo. We aimed to analyze the intrathecal plasma cell repertoire, identify autoantibody-producing clones, and characterize their antibody signatures in recombinant form.

Methods: Patients with recent onset typical anti-NMDAR encephalitis were subjected to flow cytometry analysis of the peripheral and intrathecal immune response before, during, and after immunotherapy. Recombinant human monoclonal antibodies (rhuMab) were cloned and expressed from matching immunoglobulin heavy- (IgH) and light-chain (IgL) amplicons of clonally expanded intrathecal plasma cells (cePc) and tested for their pathogenic relevance.

Results: Intrathecal accumulation of B and plasma cells corresponded to the clinical course. The presence of cePc with hypermutated antigen receptors indicated an antigen-driven intrathecal immune response. Consistently, a single recombinant human GluN1-specific monoclonal antibody, rebuilt from intrathecal cePc, was sufficient to reproduce NMDAR epitope specificity in vitro. After intraventricular infusion in mice, it accumulated in the hippocampus, decreased synaptic NMDAR density, and caused severe reversible memory impairment, a key pathogenic feature of the human disease, in vivo.

Interpretation: A CNS-specific humoral immune response is present in anti-NMDAR encephalitis specifically targeting the GluN1 subunit of the NMDAR. Using reverse genetics, we recovered the typical intrathecal antibody signature in recombinant form, and proved its pathogenic relevance by passive transfer of disease symptoms from man to mouse, providing the critical link between intrathecal immune response and the pathogenesis of anti-NMDAR encephalitis as a humorally mediated autoimmune disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acn3.444DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5682115PMC
November 2017

Disruption of cardiac cholinergic neurons enhances susceptibility to ventricular arrhythmias.

Nat Commun 2017 01 27;8:14155. Epub 2017 Jan 27.

Department of Cardiology-Electrophysiology, cardiac Neuro- and Electrophysiology Research Group (cNEP), University Heart Center, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.

The parasympathetic nervous system plays an important role in the pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation. Catheter ablation, a minimally invasive procedure deactivating abnormal firing cardiac tissue, is increasingly becoming the therapy of choice for atrial fibrillation. This is inevitably associated with the obliteration of cardiac cholinergic neurons. However, the impact on ventricular electrophysiology is unclear. Here we show that cardiac cholinergic neurons modulate ventricular electrophysiology. Mechanical disruption or pharmacological blockade of parasympathetic innervation shortens ventricular refractory periods, increases the incidence of ventricular arrhythmia and decreases ventricular cAMP levels in murine hearts. Immunohistochemistry confirmed ventricular cholinergic innervation, revealing parasympathetic fibres running from the atria to the ventricles parallel to sympathetic fibres. In humans, catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation, which is accompanied by accidental parasympathetic and concomitant sympathetic denervation, raises the burden of premature ventricular complexes. In summary, our results demonstrate an influence of cardiac cholinergic neurons on the regulation of ventricular function and arrhythmogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms14155DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5290156PMC
January 2017

Impaired novelty acquisition and synaptic plasticity in congenital hyperammonemia caused by hepatic glutamine synthetase deficiency.

Sci Rep 2017 01 9;7:40190. Epub 2017 Jan 9.

Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectious Diseases, Heinrich-Heine-University, D-40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.

Genetic defects in ammonia metabolism can produce irreversible damage of the developing CNS causing an impairment of cognitive and motor functions. We investigated alterations in behavior, synaptic plasticity and gene expression in the hippocampus and dorsal striatum of transgenic mice with systemic hyperammonemia resulting from conditional knockout of hepatic glutamine synthetase (LGS-ko). These mice showed reduced exploratory activity and delayed habituation to a novel environment. Field potential recordings from LGS-ko brain slices revealed significantly reduced magnitude of electrically-induced long-term potentiation (LTP) in both CA3-CA1 hippocampal and corticostriatal synaptic transmission. Corticostriatal but not hippocampal slices from LGS-ko brains demonstrated also significant alterations in long-lasting effects evoked by pharmacological activation of glutamate receptors. Real-time RT-PCR revealed distinct patterns of dysregulated gene expression in the hippocampus and striatum of LGS-ko mice: LGS-ko hippocampus showed significantly modified expression of mRNAs for mGluR1, GluN2B subunit of NMDAR, and A1 adenosine receptors while altered expression of mRNAs for D1 dopamine receptors, the M1 cholinoreceptor and the acetylcholine-synthetizing enzyme choline-acetyltransferase was observed in LGS-ko striatum. Thus, inborn systemic hyperammonemia resulted in significant deficits in novelty acquisition and disturbed synaptic plasticity in corticostriatal and hippocampal pathways involved in learning and goal-directed behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep40190DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5220341PMC
January 2017

Depletion of the AMPAR reserve pool impairs synaptic plasticity in a model of hepatic encephalopathy.

Mol Cell Neurosci 2015 Sep 9;68:331-9. Epub 2015 Sep 9.

Institute of Neural and Sensory Physiology, Medical Faculty, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany. Electronic address:

Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is the most common neuropsychiatric complication of acute or chronic liver failure. Clinical symptoms include cognitive and intellectual dysfunction as well as impaired motor activity and coordination. There is general consensus that increased levels of ammonia play a central role in the pathogenesis of HE. However, it is still elusive how cognitive performance including the ability to learn and memorize information is affected by ammonia at molecular levels. In the present study, we have employed a neuroglial co-culture model, which preserves neuroglial interplay but allows for cell-type specific molecular and functional analyses, to investigate glutamatergic neurotransmission under conditions of high ammonia. Chronic exposure to ammonia significantly reduced neuronal mRNA and protein expression of AMPA-subtype glutamate receptors (AMPARs), which mediate most fast excitatory neurotransmission in the brain. Surprisingly, neurons were able to fully maintain basal glutamatergic neurotransmission as recorded by AMPAR-mediated miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) even when >50% of total AMPARs were lost. However, long-lasting, activity-dependent changes in the efficacy of synaptic communication, which model the capability of the brain to learn and store information, were severely constrained. Whereas synaptic efficacy could still be depressed, an increase in synaptic strength was abolished. We conclude that neurons retain basal glutamatergic transmission at the expense of the extrasynaptic population of AMPARs, which is revealed when the extrasynaptic reserve pool is recruited in vain for synaptic potentiation. Our findings thus offer a molecular model, which might not only explain impaired synaptic plasticity in HE but also in other neurological diseases accompanied by a decrease in extrasynaptic AMPAR expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mcn.2015.09.001DOI Listing
September 2015

Characterization of pancreatic NMDA receptors as possible drug targets for diabetes treatment.

Nat Med 2015 Apr 16;21(4):363-72. Epub 2015 Mar 16.

1] Institute of Metabolic Physiology, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany. [2] Institute for Beta Cell Biology, German Diabetes Center, Leibniz Center for Diabetes Research, Düsseldorf, Germany. [3] German Center for Diabetes Research, Partner Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.

In the nervous system, NMDA receptors (NMDARs) participate in neurotransmission and modulate the viability of neurons. In contrast, little is known about the role of NMDARs in pancreatic islets and the insulin-secreting beta cells whose functional impairment contributes to diabetes mellitus. Here we found that inhibition of NMDARs in mouse and human islets enhanced their glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) and survival of islet cells. Further, NMDAR inhibition prolonged the amount of time that glucose-stimulated beta cells spent in a depolarized state with high cytosolic Ca(2+) concentrations. We also noticed that, in vivo, the NMDAR antagonist dextromethorphan (DXM) enhanced glucose tolerance in mice, and that in vitro dextrorphan, the main metabolite of DXM, amplified the stimulatory effect of exendin-4 on GSIS. In a mouse model of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), long-term treatment with DXM improved islet insulin content, islet cell mass and blood glucose control. Further, in a small clinical trial we found that individuals with T2DM treated with DXM showed enhanced serum insulin concentrations and glucose tolerance. Our data highlight the possibility that antagonists of NMDARs may provide a useful adjunct treatment for diabetes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nm.3822DOI Listing
April 2015

Synaptic plasticity in hepatic encephalopathy - a molecular perspective.

Arch Biochem Biophys 2013 Aug 25;536(2):183-8. Epub 2013 Apr 25.

Institute of Neural and Sensory Physiology, Medical Faculty, University of Düsseldorf D-40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.

Hepatic encephalopathy (HE)(1) is a common neuropsychiatric complication of both acute and chronic liver disease. Clinical symptoms may include motor disturbances and cognitive dysfunction. Available animal models of HE mimic the deficits in cognitive performance including the impaired ability to learn and memorize information. This review explores the question how HE might affect cognitive functions at molecular levels. Both acute and chronic models of HE constrain the plasticity of glutamatergic neurotransmission. Thus, long-lasting activity-dependent changes in synaptic efficiency, known as long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) are significantly impeded. We discuss molecules and signal transduction pathways of LTP and LTD that are targeted by experimental HE, with a focus on ionotropic glutamate receptors of the AMPA-subtype. Finally, a novel strategy of functional proteomic analysis is presented, which, if applied differentially, may provide molecular insight into disease-related dysfunction of membrane protein complexes, i.e. disturbed ionotropic glutamate receptor signaling in HE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.abb.2013.04.008DOI Listing
August 2013

Ontogeny repeats the phylogenetic recruitment of the cargo exporter cornichon into AMPA receptor signaling complexes.

Mol Cell Neurosci 2013 Sep 8;56:10-7. Epub 2013 Feb 8.

Institute of Neural and Sensory Physiology, Medical Faculty, University of Düsseldorf, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.

Besides mediating most of the fast excitatory neurotransmission in the mammalian CNS, ionotropic glutamate receptors of the AMPA subtype (AMPARs) serve highly diverse functions in brain development controlling neuronal migration, synaptic growth, and synaptic maturation. Pioneering proteomic studies suggest that this functional diversity is met by a great molecular complexity in native AMPAR composition. Here, we have investigated the expression patterns of two recently identified AMPAR constituents, the cornichon homologues CNIH-2 and CNIH-3, and their assembly with the AMPAR core subunits GluA1-4 in developing rat brain. Unlike GluA1-4 expression, which is up-regulated during postnatal brain development, the two cornichon homologues show maximum mRNA and protein expression early after birth, which then decline towards adulthood. Despite rather reciprocal expression profiles, the overall ratio of CNIH-2/3 complexed with GluAs remains constant throughout development. Our data reveal an excess amount of AMPAR-free CNIH-2/3 early in development, which might serve the evolutionarily conserved role of cornichon as a cargo exporter. With progressing development, however, the amount of AMPAR-free CNIH-2/3 subsides, whereas the one being integrated into AMPAR complexes increases. Hence, the cornichon homologues CNIH-2/3 gain importance in their role as auxiliary subunits of native AMPARs during ontogeny, which reflects their functional evolution in phylogeny.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mcn.2013.02.001DOI Listing
September 2013

The HCN4 channel mutation D553N associated with bradycardia has a C-linker mediated gating defect.

Cell Physiol Biochem 2012 15;30(5):1227-40. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Vegetative Physiology Group, Philipps University of Marburg, Germany.

Background/aims: The D553N mutation located in the C-linker of the cardiac pacemaker channel HCN4 is thought to cause sino-atrial dysfunction via a pronounced dominant-negative trafficking defect. Since HCN4 mutations usually have a minor defect in channel gating, it was our aim to further characterize the disease causing mechanism of D553N.

Methods: Fluorescence microscopy, FACS, TEVC and patch-clamp recordings were performed to characterize D553N.

Results: Surprisingly, we found that D553N channels reach the plasma membrane and have no apparent trafficking defect. Co-expression of D553N with HCN4 also revealed no dominant-negative effect on wild-type channels. Consistent with the normal cell surface expression of D553N, it was possible to extensively characterize D553N mutants in Xenopus oocytes and mammalian cells. D553N channels generate currents with reduced amplitude, while the kinetics of activation and deactivation are not altered. While the regulation of D553N by tyrosine kinases is normal, we observed a change in the cAMP regulation which however cannot account for the strong loss-of-function of the mutant.

Conclusion: The pronounced current reduction and the regular surface expression indicate a major gating defect of the C-linker gate. We hypothesize that the D553N mutation stabilizes a previously reported salt bridge important for the gating of the channel.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000343314DOI Listing
September 2014

High-resolution proteomics unravel architecture and molecular diversity of native AMPA receptor complexes.

Neuron 2012 May;74(4):621-33

Institute of Physiology, University of Freiburg, Hermann-Herder-Str. 7, 79104 Freiburg, Germany.

AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) are responsible for a variety of processes in the mammalian brain including fast excitatory neurotransmission, postsynaptic plasticity, or synapse development. Here, with comprehensive and quantitative proteomic analyses, we demonstrate that native AMPARs are macromolecular complexes with a large molecular diversity. This diversity results from coassembly of the known AMPAR subunits, pore-forming GluA and three types of auxiliary proteins, with 21 additional constituents, mostly secreted proteins or transmembrane proteins of different classes. Their integration at distinct abundance and stability establishes the heteromultimeric architecture of native AMPAR complexes: a defined core with a variable periphery resulting in an apparent molecular mass between 0.6 and 1 MDa. The additional constituents change the gating properties of AMPARs and provide links to the protein dynamics fundamental for the complex role of AMPARs in formation and operation of glutamatergic synapses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2012.03.034DOI Listing
May 2012

AMPA receptors commandeer an ancient cargo exporter for use as an auxiliary subunit for signaling.

PLoS One 2012 24;7(1):e30681. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Institute of Neuro- and Sensory Physiology, Medical Faculty, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.

Fast excitatory neurotransmission in the mammalian central nervous system is mainly mediated by ionotropic glutamate receptors of the AMPA subtype (AMPARs). AMPARs are protein complexes of the pore-lining α-subunits GluA1-4 and auxiliary β-subunits modulating their trafficking and gating. By a proteomic approach, two homologues of the cargo exporter cornichon, CNIH-2 and CNIH-3, have recently been identified as constituents of native AMPARs in mammalian brain. In heterologous reconstitution experiments, CNIH-2 promotes surface expression of GluAs and modulates their biophysical properties. However, its relevance in native AMPAR physiology remains controversial. Here, we have studied the role of CNIH-2 in GluA processing both in heterologous cells and primary rat neurons. Our data demonstrate that CNIH-2 serves an evolutionarily conserved role as a cargo exporter from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). CNIH-2 cycles continuously between ER and Golgi complex to pick up cargo protein in the ER and then to mediate its preferential export in a coat protein complex (COP) II dependent manner. Interaction with GluA subunits breaks with this ancestral role of CNIH-2 confined to the early secretory pathway. While still taking advantage of being exported preferentially from the ER, GluAs recruit CNIH-2 to the cell surface. Thus, mammalian AMPARs commandeer CNIH-2 for use as a bona fide auxiliary subunit that is able to modify receptor signaling.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0030681PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265512PMC
June 2012

Association with the auxiliary subunit PEX5R/Trip8b controls responsiveness of HCN channels to cAMP and adrenergic stimulation.

Neuron 2009 Jun;62(6):814-25

Institute of Physiology, University of Freiburg, Engesserstrasse 4, 79108 Freiburg, Germany.

Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels are key modulators of neuronal activity by providing the depolarizing cation current I(h) involved in rhythmogenesis, dendritic integration, and synaptic transmission. These tasks critically depend on the availability of HCN channels, which is dynamically regulated by intracellular cAMP; the range of this regulation, however, largely differs among neurons in the mammalian brain. Using affinity purification and high-resolution mass spectrometry, we identify the PEX5R/Trip8b protein as the beta subunit of HCN channels in the mammalian brain. Coassembly of PEX5R/Trip8b affects HCN channel gating in a subtype-dependent and mode-specific way: activation of HCN2 and HCN4 by cAMP is largely impaired, while gating by phosphoinositides and basal voltage-dependence remain unaffected. De novo expression of PEX5R/Trip8b in cardiomyocytes abolishes beta-adrenergic stimulation of HCN channels. These results demonstrate that PEX5R/Trip8b is an intrinsic auxiliary subunit of brain HCN channels and establish HCN-PEX5R/Trip8b coassembly as a mechanism to control the channels' responsiveness to cyclic nucleotide signaling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2009.05.008DOI Listing
June 2009

Functional proteomics identify cornichon proteins as auxiliary subunits of AMPA receptors.

Science 2009 Mar;323(5919):1313-9

Institute of Physiology II, University of Freiburg, Engesserstrasse 4, 79108 Freiburg, Germany.

Glutamate receptors of the AMPA-subtype (AMPARs), together with the transmembrane AMPAR regulatory proteins (TARPs), mediate fast excitatory synaptic transmission in the mammalian brain. Here, we show by proteomic analysis that the majority of AMPARs in the rat brain are coassembled with two members of the cornichon family of transmembrane proteins, rather than with the TARPs. Coassembly with cornichon homologs 2 and 3 affects AMPARs in two ways: Cornichons increase surface expression of AMPARs, and they alter channel gating by markedly slowing deactivation and desensitization kinetics. These results demonstrate that cornichons are intrinsic auxiliary subunits of native AMPARs and provide previously unknown molecular determinants for glutamatergic neurotransmission in the central nervous system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1167852DOI Listing
March 2009

Prolonged irradiation of enhanced cyan fluorescent protein or Cerulean can invalidate Forster resonance energy transfer measurements.

J Biomed Opt 2008 May-Jun;13(3):031205

Universitatsklinikum Jena, Institut fur Physiologie II, Kollegiengasse 9 07740 Jena, Germany.

Since its discovery, green fluorescent protein (GFP) and its variants have proven to be a good and convenient fluorescent label for proteins: GFP and other visible fluorescent proteins (VFPs) can be fused selectively to the protein of interest by simple cloning techniques and develop fluorescence without additional cofactors. Among the steadily growing collection of VFPs, several pairs can be chosen that can serve as donor and acceptor fluorophores in Forster resonance energy transfer (FRET) experiments. Among them, the cyan fluorescent proteins (ECFP/Cerulean) and the enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (EYFP) are most commonly used. We show that ECFP and Cerulean have some disadvantages despite their common use: Upon irradiation with light intensities that are commonly used for intensity- and lifetime-based FRET measurements, both the fluorescence intensity and the fluorescence lifetime of ECFP and Cerulean decrease. This can hamper both intensity- and lifetime-based FRET measurements and emphasizes the need for control measurements to exclude these artifacts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/1.2937829DOI Listing
September 2008

Localization, trafficking, and significance for acid secretion of parietal cell Kir4.1 and KCNQ1 K+ channels.

Gastroenterology 2008 Apr 18;134(4):1058-69. Epub 2008 Jan 18.

Department of Gastroenterology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.

Background & Aims: K(+) recycling at the apical membrane of gastric parietal cells is a prerequisite for gastric acid secretion. Two K(+) channels are currently being considered for this function, namely KCNQ1 and inwardly rectifying K(+) channels (Kir). This study addresses the subcellular localization, trafficking, and potential functional significance of KCNQ1 and Kir4.1 channels during stimulated acid secretion.

Methods: The effect of pharmacologic KCNQ1 blockade on acid secretion was studied in cultured rat and rabbit parietal cells and in isolated mouse gastric mucosa. The subcellular localization of KCNQ1 and Kir4.1 was determined in highly purified membrane fractions by Western blot analysis as well as in fixed and living cells by confocal microscopy.

Results: In cultured parietal cells and in isolated gastric mucosa, a robust acid secretory response was seen after complete pharmacologic blockade of KCNQ1. Both biochemical and morphologic data demonstrate that Kir4.1 and KCNQ1 colocalize with the H(+)/K(+)-ATPase but do so in different tubulovesicular pools. All Kir4.1 translocates to the apical membrane after stimulation in contrast to only a fraction of KCNQ1, which mostly remains cytoplasmic.

Conclusions: Acid secretion can be stimulated after complete pharmacologic blockade of KCNQ1 activity, suggesting that additional apical K(+) channels regulate gastric acid secretion. The close association of Kir4.1 channels with H(+)/K(+)-ATPase in the resting and stimulated membrane suggests a possible role for Kir4.1 channels during the acid secretory cycle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2008.01.033DOI Listing
April 2008

Recycling endosomes supply cardiac pacemaker channels for regulated surface expression.

Cardiovasc Res 2008 Jul 7;79(1):52-60. Epub 2008 Mar 7.

Institute of Physiology, University of Freiburg, Hermann-Herder-Str. 7, 79104 Freiburg, Germany.

Aims: Cellular excitability is not only determined by the type but also by the number of ion channels in the plasma membrane. Recent evidence indicates that cell surface expression of cardiac pacemaker channels might be controlled beyond the level of biosynthesis by regulating their surface transport. However, neither the underlying trafficking pathways nor their molecular control have yet been investigated.

Methods And Results: We have studied endocytic trafficking of hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) ion channels expressed as fusions with green fluorescent protein or tagged with an extracellular haemagglutinin epitope in opossum kidney cells, dissociated rat hippocampal neurons, and ventricular cardiomyocytes. After being internalized from the plasma membrane, HCN2 and HCN4 are sorted to the Rab11-positive endocytic recycling compartment (ERC). From there, they are transported back to the cell surface depending on active phospholipase D2 (PLD2). The peptide hormone angiotensin II, which is upregulated in a number of cardiac pathologies and a known activator of PLD2, stimulates ERC trafficking of HCN4 channels. It significantly increases HCN surface expression independent of their biosynthesis.

Conclusion: Recycling endosomes serve as an intracellular storage compartment for the cardiac pacemaker channels HCN2 and HCN4. They are not only crucial for maintaining a homeostatic surface expression but also supply channels for rapid adaptation of their surface expression in response to extracellular stimuli.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvn062DOI Listing
July 2008

Multi-dimensional fluorescence lifetime and FRET measurements.

Microsc Res Tech 2007 May;70(5):442-51

Institut für Physiologie II, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Teichgraben 8, 07740 Jena, Germany.

When and where proteins associate with each other in living cells are key questions in many biological research projects. One way to address these questions is to measure the extent of Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) between proteins that have been labeled with appropriate donor and acceptor fluorophores. When both proteins interact, donor and acceptor fluorophores are brought into close vicinity so that the donor can transmit a part of its excitation energy to the acceptor. As a result, both the intensity and the lifetime of the donor fluorescence decrease, whereas the intensity of the acceptor emission increases. This offers different approaches to determine FRET efficiency: One is to detect changes in the intensity of donor and acceptor emission, the other is to measure changes in the lifetime of the donor molecule. One important advantage of the fluorescence lifetime approach is that it allows to distinguish between free and associated donor molecules. However, like intensity measurements it lacks an intrinsic control ensuring that changes in the measured parameters are only due to FRET and not other quenching processes. Here, we show how this limitation can be overcome by spectrally resolved fluorescence lifetime measurements in the time domain. One technique is based on a streak camera system, the other technique is based on a time-correlated-single-photon-counting approach. Both approaches allow biologists to record both donor and acceptor fluorescence emitted by the sample in a single measurement.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jemt.20431DOI Listing
May 2007

Pacemaking by HCN channels requires interaction with phosphoinositides.

Neuron 2006 Dec;52(6):1027-36

Institute of Physiology, University of Freiburg, Hermann-Herder-Strasse 7, 79104 Freiburg, Germany.

Hyperpolarization-activated, cyclic-nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels mediate the depolarizing cation current (termed I(h) or I(f)) that initiates spontaneous rhythmic activity in heart and brain. This function critically depends on the reliable opening of HCN channels in the subthreshold voltage-range. Here we show that activation of HCN channels at physiologically relevant voltages requires interaction with phosphoinositides such as phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PIP(2)). PIP(2) acts as a ligand that allosterically opens HCN channels by shifting voltage-dependent channel activation approximately 20 mV toward depolarized potentials. Allosteric gating by PIP(2) occurs in all HCN subtypes and is independent of the action of cyclic nucleotides. In CNS neurons and cardiomyocytes, enzymatic degradation of phospholipids results in reduced channel activation and slowing of the spontaneous firing rate. These results demonstrate that gating by phospholipids is essential for the pacemaking activity of HCN channels in cardiac and neuronal rhythmogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2006.12.005DOI Listing
December 2006

Cytoplasmic accumulation of long-chain coenzyme A esters activates KATP and inhibits Kir2.1 channels.

J Physiol 2006 Sep 15;575(Pt 2):433-42. Epub 2006 Jun 15.

Institute of Physiology II, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Teichgraben 8, 07743 Jena, Germany.

Long-chain fatty acids acyl coenzyme A esters (LC-CoA) are obligate intermediates of fatty acid metabolism and have been shown to activate K(ATP) channels but to inhibit most other Kir channels (e.g. Kir2.1) by direct channel binding. The activation of K(ATP) channels by elevated levels of LC-CoA may be involved in the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes, the hypothalamic sensing of circulating fatty acids and the regulation of cardiac K(ATP) channels. However, LC-CoA are effectively buffered in the cytoplasm and it is currently not clear whether their free concentration can reach levels sufficient to affect Kir channels in vivo. Here, we report that extracellular oleic acid complexed with albumin at an unbound concentration of 81 +/- 1 nm strongly activated K(ATP) channels and inhibited Kir2.1 channels in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells as well as endogenous Kir currents in human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cells. These effects were only seen in the presence of a high concentration of glucose (25 mm), a condition known to promote the accumulation of LC-CoA by inhibiting their mitochondrial uptake via carnitine-palmitoyl-transferase-1 (CPT1). Accordingly, pharmacological inhibition of CPT1 by etomoxir restored the effects of oleic acid under low glucose conditions. Finally, triacsin C, an inhibitor of the acyl-CoA synthetase, which is necessary for LC-CoA formation, abolished the effects of extracellular oleic acid on the various Kir channels. These results establish the direct regulation of Kir channels by the cytoplasmic accumulation of LC-CoA, which might be of physiological and pathophysiological relevance in a variety of tissues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2006.111161DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1819462PMC
September 2006

The epilepsy-linked Lgi1 protein assembles into presynaptic Kv1 channels and inhibits inactivation by Kvbeta1.

Neuron 2006 Mar;49(5):697-706

Logopharm GmbH, Hermann-Herder-Str. 7, 79104 Freiburg, Germany.

The voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channel subunit Kv1.1 is a major constituent of presynaptic A-type channels that modulate synaptic transmission in CNS neurons. Here, we show that Kv1.1-containing channels are complexed with Lgi1, the functionally unassigned product of the leucine-rich glioma inactivated gene 1 (LGI1), which is causative for an autosomal dominant form of lateral temporal lobe epilepsy (ADLTE). In the hippocampal formation, both Kv1.1 and Lgi1 are coassembled with Kv1.4 and Kvbeta1 in axonal terminals. In A-type channels composed of these subunits, Lgi1 selectively prevents N-type inactivation mediated by the Kvbeta1 subunit. In contrast, defective Lgi1 molecules identified in ADLTE patients fail to exert this effect resulting in channels with rapid inactivation kinetics. The results establish Lgi1 as a novel subunit of Kv1.1-associated protein complexes and suggest that changes in inactivation gating of presynaptic A-type channels may promote epileptic activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2006.01.033DOI Listing
March 2006