Publications by authors named "Sara Brignani"

8 Publications

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Protocol for tissue clearing and 3D analysis of dopamine neurons in the developing mouse midbrain.

STAR Protoc 2021 Sep 22;2(3):100669. Epub 2021 Jul 22.

Department of Translational Neuroscience, UMC Utrecht Brain Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Universiteitsweg 100, 3584 CG Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Advances in tissue clearing enable analysis of complex migratory patterns of developing neurons in whole intact tissue. Here, we implemented a modified version of 3DISCO to study migration of midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons. We provide a detailed protocol starting from whole-brain immunostaining, tissue clearing, and ultramicroscopic imaging to post-acquisition quantification and analysis. This protocol enables precise quantification of DA neuron migration but can also be applied more generally for analyzing neuron migration throughout the nervous system. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Brignani et al. (2020).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.xpro.2021.100669DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8326876PMC
September 2021

Simultaneous binding of Guidance Cues NET1 and RGM blocks extracellular NEO1 signaling.

Cell 2021 Apr 18;184(8):2103-2120.e31. Epub 2021 Mar 18.

Division of Structural Biology, Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford OX3 7BN, UK. Electronic address:

During cell migration or differentiation, cell surface receptors are simultaneously exposed to different ligands. However, it is often unclear how these extracellular signals are integrated. Neogenin (NEO1) acts as an attractive guidance receptor when the Netrin-1 (NET1) ligand binds, but it mediates repulsion via repulsive guidance molecule (RGM) ligands. Here, we show that signal integration occurs through the formation of a ternary NEO1-NET1-RGM complex, which triggers reciprocal silencing of downstream signaling. Our NEO1-NET1-RGM structures reveal a "trimer-of-trimers" super-assembly, which exists in the cell membrane. Super-assembly formation results in inhibition of RGMA-NEO1-mediated growth cone collapse and RGMA- or NET1-NEO1-mediated neuron migration, by preventing formation of signaling-compatible RGM-NEO1 complexes and NET1-induced NEO1 ectodomain clustering. These results illustrate how simultaneous binding of ligands with opposing functions, to a single receptor, does not lead to competition for binding, but to formation of a super-complex that diminishes their functional outputs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.02.045DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8063088PMC
April 2021

Remotely Produced and Axon-Derived Netrin-1 Instructs GABAergic Neuron Migration and Dopaminergic Substantia Nigra Development.

Neuron 2020 08 19;107(4):684-702.e9. Epub 2020 Jun 19.

Department of Translational Neuroscience, UMC Utrecht Brain Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Universiteitsweg 100, 3584 CG Utrecht, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

The midbrain dopamine (mDA) system is composed of molecularly and functionally distinct neuron subtypes that mediate specific behaviors and show select disease vulnerability, including in Parkinson's disease. Despite progress in identifying mDA neuron subtypes, how these neuronal subsets develop and organize into functional brain structures remains poorly understood. Here we generate and use an intersectional genetic platform, Pitx3-ITC, to dissect the mechanisms of substantia nigra (SN) development and implicate the guidance molecule Netrin-1 in the migration and positioning of mDA neuron subtypes in the SN. Unexpectedly, we show that Netrin-1, produced in the forebrain and provided to the midbrain through axon projections, instructs the migration of GABAergic neurons into the ventral SN. This migration is required to confine mDA neurons to the dorsal SN. These data demonstrate that neuron migration can be controlled by remotely produced and axon-derived secreted guidance cues, a principle that is likely to apply more generally.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2020.05.037DOI Listing
August 2020

Structural Basis of Teneurin-Latrophilin Interaction in Repulsive Guidance of Migrating Neurons.

Cell 2020 01 9;180(2):323-339.e19. Epub 2020 Jan 9.

Department of Biochemistry, Oxford University, Oxford OX1 3QU, UK. Electronic address:

Teneurins are ancient metazoan cell adhesion receptors that control brain development and neuronal wiring in higher animals. The extracellular C terminus binds the adhesion GPCR Latrophilin, forming a trans-cellular complex with synaptogenic functions. However, Teneurins, Latrophilins, and FLRT proteins are also expressed during murine cortical cell migration at earlier developmental stages. Here, we present crystal structures of Teneurin-Latrophilin complexes that reveal how the lectin and olfactomedin domains of Latrophilin bind across a spiraling beta-barrel domain of Teneurin, the YD shell. We couple structure-based protein engineering to biophysical analysis, cell migration assays, and in utero electroporation experiments to probe the importance of the interaction in cortical neuron migration. We show that binding of Latrophilins to Teneurins and FLRTs directs the migration of neurons using a contact repulsion-dependent mechanism. The effect is observed with cell bodies and small neurites rather than their processes. The results exemplify how a structure-encoded synaptogenic protein complex is also used for repulsive cell guidance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2019.12.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6978801PMC
January 2020

Neuronal Subset-Specific Migration and Axonal Wiring Mechanisms in the Developing Midbrain Dopamine System.

Front Neuroanat 2017 10;11:55. Epub 2017 Jul 10.

Department of Translational Neuroscience, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center UtrechtUtrecht, Netherlands.

The midbrain dopamine (mDA) system is involved in the control of cognitive and motor behaviors, and is associated with several psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. mDA neurons receive diverse afferent inputs and establish efferent connections with many brain areas. Recent studies have unveiled a high level of molecular and cellular heterogeneity within the mDA system with specific subsets of mDA neurons displaying select molecular profiles and connectivity patterns. During mDA neuron development, molecular differences between mDA neuron subsets allow the establishment of subset-specific afferent and efferent connections and functional roles. In this review, we summarize and discuss recent work defining novel mDA neuron subsets based on specific molecular signatures. Then, molecular cues are highlighted that control mDA neuron migration during embryonic development and that facilitate the formation of selective patterns of efferent connections. The review focuses largely on studies that show differences in these mechanisms between different subsets of mDA neurons and for which data is available, and is concluded by a section that discusses open questions and provides directions for further research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnana.2017.00055DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5502286PMC
July 2017

Axon guidance proteins in neurological disorders.

Lancet Neurol 2015 May 11;14(5):532-46. Epub 2015 Mar 11.

Department of Translational Neuroscience, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands. Electronic address:

Many neurological disorders are characterised by structural changes in neuronal connections, ranging from presymptomatic synaptic changes to the loss or rewiring of entire axon bundles. The molecular mechanisms that underlie this perturbed connectivity are poorly understood, but recent studies suggest a role for axon guidance proteins. Axon guidance proteins guide growing axons during development and control structural plasticity of synaptic connections in adults. Changes in expression or function of these proteins might induce pathological changes in neural circuits that predispose to, or cause, neurological diseases. For some neurological disorders, such as midline crossing disorders, investigators have identified causative mutations in genes for axon guidance. However, for most other disorders, evidence is correlative and further studies are needed to confirm the pathological role of defects in proteins for axon guidance. Importantly, further insight into how dysregulation of axon guidance proteins causes disease will help the development of therapeutic strategies for neurological disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(14)70257-1DOI Listing
May 2015

Subdomain-mediated axon-axon signaling and chemoattraction cooperate to regulate afferent innervation of the lateral habenula.

Neuron 2014 Jul;83(2):372-387

Department of Translational Neuroscience, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, Universiteitsweg 100, 3584 CG Utrecht, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

A dominant feature of neural circuitry is the organization of neuronal projections and synapses into specific brain nuclei or laminae. Lamina-specific connectivity is controlled by the selective expression of extracellular guidance and adhesion molecules in the target field. However, how (sub)nucleus-specific connections are established and whether axon-derived cues contribute to subdomain targeting are largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the lateral subnucleus of the habenula (lHb) determines its own afferent innervation by sending out efferent projections that express the cell adhesion molecule LAMP to reciprocally collect and guide dopaminergic afferents to the lHb-a phenomenon we term subdomain-mediated axon-axon signaling. This process of reciprocal axon-axon interactions cooperates with lHb-specific chemoattraction mediated by Netrin-1, which controls axon target entry, to ensure specific innervation of the lHb. We propose that cooperation between pretarget reciprocal axon-axon signaling and subdomain-restricted instructive cues provides a highly precise and general mechanism to establish subdomain-specific neural circuitry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2014.05.036DOI Listing
July 2014

Chronic dietary administration of valproic acid protects neurons of the rat nucleus basalis magnocellularis from ibotenic acid neurotoxicity.

Neurotox Res 2009 Feb 4;15(2):127-32. Epub 2009 Mar 4.

Department of Biology, University of Bologna, Via Selmi 3, Bologna 40126, Italy.

Valproic acid (VPA) has been used for many years as a drug of choice for epilepsy and mood disorders. Recently, evidence has been proposed for a wide spectrum of actions of this drug, including antitumoral and neuroprotective properties. Valproic acid-mediated neuroprotection in vivo has been so far demonstrated in a limited number of experimental models. In this study, we have tested the neuroprotective potential of chronic (4 + 1 weeks) dietary administration of VPA on degeneration of cholinergic and GABAergic neurons of the rat nucleus basalis magnocellularis (NBM), injected with the excitotoxin, ibotenic acid (IBO), an animal models that is relevant for Alzheimer's disease-like neurodegeneration. We show that VPA treatment significantly protects both cholinergic and GABAergic neurons present in the injected area from the excitotoxic insult. A significant level of neuroprotection, in particular, is exerted towards the cholinergic neurons of the NBM projecting to the cortex, as demonstrated by the substantially higher levels of cholinergic markers maintained in the target cortical area of VPA-treated rats after IBO injection in the NBM. We further show that chronic VPA administration results in increased acetylation of histone H3 in brain, consistent with the histone deacetylase inhibitory action of VPA and putatively linked to a neuroprotective action of the drug mediated at the epigenetic level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12640-009-9013-5DOI Listing
February 2009
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