1Neuroscience 2008 Jun 154: 701-9
TitlePreliminary evidence for a modulation of fetal dopaminergic development by maternal immune activation during pregnancy.
AbstractMaternal infection during pregnancy is an environmental risk factor for the offspring to develop severe brain disorders, including schizophrenia and autism. However, only little is known about the neurodevelopmental mechanisms underlying the association between prenatal exposure to infection and the emergence of brain and behavioral dysfunctions in later life. Using a mouse model of prenatal immune challenge by the viral mimic polyriboinosinic-polyribocytidilic acid (PolyI:C), we explored the acute effects of maternal immune activation during pregnancy on the development of the fetal dopaminergic system, a neurotransmitter system known to be affected in schizophrenia and related disorders. We found that maternal immunological stimulation in early/middle pregnancy increased the number of mesencephalic dopamine neurons in the fetal brain at middle/late and late gestation. This effect was paralleled by changes in fetal expression of several genes known to be involved in dopamine neuron development, including the inductive signals sonic hedgehog (Shh) and fibroblast growth factor 8 (Fgf8), as well as transcription factors Nurr1 and PITX3. These findings provide initial in vivo evidence for a modulation of fetal dopaminergic development by maternal immune activation during pregnancy. Additional investigations of the neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal immune challenge are thus clearly warranted in order to further validate whether abnormal dopaminergic development may be a critical neuropathological mechanism underlying the precipitation of schizophrenia-like brain and behavioral dysfunctions emerging after in utero exposure to infection.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
2Prog. Neuropsychopharmacol. Biol. Psychiatry 2010 Aug 34: 1094-7
TitlePreliminary evidence that polymorphisms in dopamine-related transcription factors LMX1A, LMX1B and PITX3 are associated with schizophrenia.
AbstractThe early development of dopaminergic pathways has been attributed importance for the aetiology of schizophrenia. Several transcription factors are involved in the survival and maturation of dopamine neurons, including LMX1A, LMX1B and PITX3. The possibility that polymorphisms in these genes may influence the development and/or the maintenance of dopaminergic neurons prompted us to investigate if five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) previously linked to Parkinson's disease are associated with this disorder. Preliminary evidence that genetic variation in LMX1A (rs6668493, rs4657411), LMX1B (rs10987386) and PITX3 (rs4919621) may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia is presented.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
3Neuroscience 2010 Mar 166: 391-6
TitlePitx3-deficient aphakia mice display unique behavioral responses to psychostimulant and antipsychotic drugs.
AbstractThe dorsal (A9) and ventral striatum (A10) of the midbrain mediate many of the effects of psychoactive drugs that alter emotion, cognition, and motor activity within the contexts of therapy or abuse. Although transgenic and knockout technologies have enabled development of genetic models to dissect contributions of specific dopamine (DA) receptor subtypes to psychoactive drug effects, few models exist that can distinguish contributions of A9 versus A10 circuits. PITX3 is a transcription factor enriched in DA neurons. Aphakia (ak) mice deficient in PITX3 show selective loss of nigrostriatal DA, while other DA pathways are relatively spared, and therefore could be a useful tool for investigating the role of this subclass of DA projections. We investigated the effects of stimulants amphetamine, apomorphine, and MK-801 and the antipsychotic drug haloperidol on behavior in ak mice. Whereas wild-type mice showed the characteristic locomotor hyperactivity in response to amphetamine (5 mg/kg) and apomorphine (4 mg/kg), these drugs caused a paradoxical suppression of locomotor hyperactivity in ak mice. MK-801 (0.2 mg/kg) induced hyperactivity was maintained in both wt and ak mice. Additionally, mutant but not wild-type mice were insensitive to the cataleptic effects of haloperidol (1 mg/kg). These studies indicate that the nigrostriatal DA circuit plays a critical role in maintaining normal responsiveness to psychotropic drugs that either stimulate or block DA neurotransmission. We propose that ak mice may represent a valuable genetic model not only to study Parkinson's disease, but also to dissect the pathophysiologic and pharmacotherapuetic mechanisms of other DA-mediated disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, drug abuse and schizophrenia.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
4Biol Open 2012 Aug 1: 693-704
TitleGenome wide expression profiling of the mesodiencephalic region identifies novel factors involved in early and late dopaminergic development.
AbstractMeso-diencephalic dopaminergic (mdDA) neurons are critical for motor control and cognitive functioning and their loss or dysfunction is associated with disorders such as Parkinson's disease (PD), schizophrenia and addiction. However, relatively little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying mdDA neuron development and maintenance. Here, we determined the spatiotemporal map of genes involved in the development of mdDA neurons to gain further insight into their molecular programming. Genome-wide gene expression profiles of the developing ventral mesencephalon (VM) were compared at different developmental stages leading to the identification of novel regulatory roles of neuronal signaling through nicotinic acthylcholine receptors (Chrna6 and Chrnb3 subunits) and the identification of novel transcription factors (Oc2 and 3) involved in the generation of the mdDA neuronal field. We show here that PITX3, in cooperation with Nurr1, is the critical component in the activation of the Chrna6 and Chrnb3 subunits in mdDA neurons. Furthermore, we provide evidence of two divergent regulatory pathways resulting in the expression of Chrna6 and Chrnb3 respectively.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
5PLoS ONE 2012 -1 7: e42641
TitleSpatial and temporal lineage analysis of a Pitx3-driven Cre-recombinase knock-in mouse model.
AbstractDevelopment and function of mesodiencephalic dopaminergic (mdDA) neurons has received a lot of scientific interest since these neurons are critically involved in neurological diseases as Parkinson and psychiatric diseases as schizophrenia, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The understanding of the molecular processes that lead to normal development and function of mdDA neurons has provided insight in the pathology and provided critical information on new treatment paradigms. In order to be able to study specific genetic ablation in mdDA neurons a new tools was developed that drives Cre-recombinase under the control of the PITX3 locus. The PITX3 gene is well known for its specific expression in mdDA neurons and is present at the onset of terminal differentiation. Analysis of newly generated PITX3-Cre knock-in mice shows that Cre expression, measured through the activation of eYfp by removal of a "Stop" signal (LoxP-Stop-LoxP-eYfp reporter mouse), is present at the onset of terminal differentiation and mimics closely the native PITX3 expression domain. In conclusion, we present here a new Cre-driver mouse model to be used in the restricted ablation of interesting genes in mdDA neurons in order to improve our understanding of the underlying molecular programming.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
6J. Neurosci. 2012 Aug 32: 10841-53
TitleSchizophrenia-like features in transgenic mice overexpressing human HO-1 in the astrocytic compartment.
AbstractDelineation of key molecules that act epigenetically to transduce diverse stressors into established patterns of disease would facilitate the advent of preventive and disease-modifying therapeutics for a host of neurological disorders. Herein, we demonstrate that selective overexpression of the stress protein heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) in astrocytes of novel GFAP.HMOX1 transgenic mice results in subcortical oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage/autophagy; diminished neuronal reelin content (males); induction of Nurr1 and PITX3 with attendant suppression of their targeting miRNAs, 145 and 133b; increased tyrosine hydroxylase and ?-synuclein expression with downregulation of the targeting miR-7b of the latter; augmented dopamine and serotonin levels in basal ganglia; reduced D1 receptor binding in nucleus accumbens; axodendritic pathology and altered hippocampal cytoarchitectonics; impaired neurovascular coupling; attenuated prepulse inhibition (males); and hyperkinetic behavior. The GFAP.HMOX1 neurophenotype bears resemblances to human schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental conditions and implicates glial HO-1 as a prime transducer of inimical (endogenous and environmental) influences on the development of monoaminergic circuitry. Containment of the glial HO-1 response to noxious stimuli at strategic points of the life cycle may afford novel opportunities for the effective management of human neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative conditions.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
7Exp. Eye Res. 2015 Nov -1: -1
TitleFrom eyeless to neurological diseases.
AbstractAge-related cataracts are frequently associated with degenerative changes in the ocular lens including the aggregation of proteins - mainly crystallins, but also other proteins including amyloids (A?) leading to the hypothesis that cataracts could be used as "biomarkers" for Alzheimer disease. Even if this hypothesis was rejected by David Beebe's last paper (Bei et al., Exp. Eye Res., in press), it is a fascinating aspect to look for commonalities between eye diseases and neurological disorders. In this review, I discuss such commonalities between eye and brain mainly from a developmental point of view. The finding of the functional homology of the Drosophila eyeless gene with the mammalian Pax6 gene marks a first highlight in the developmental genetics of the eye - this result destroyed the "dogma" of the different evolutionary routes of eye development in flies and mammals. The second highlight was the finding that Pax6 is also involved in the development of the forebrain supporting the pleiotropic role of many genes. These findings opened a new avenue for research showing that a broad variety of transcription factors, but also structural proteins are involved both, in eye and brain development as well as into the maintenance of the functional integrity of the corresponding tissue(s). In this review recent findings are summarized demonstrating that genes whose mutations have been identified first to be causative for congenital or juvenile eye disorders are also involved in regenerative processes and neurogenesis (Pax6), but also in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson (e.g. PITX3) or in neurological disorders like schizophrenia (e.g. Crybb1, Crybb2).
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
8Genes Brain Behav. 2016 Jan 15: 62-73
TitleDevelopment and function of the midbrain dopamine system: what we know and what we need to.
AbstractThe past two decades have seen an explosion in our understanding of the origin and development of the midbrain dopamine system. Much of this work has been focused on the aspects of dopamine neuron development related to the onset of movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease, with the intent of hopefully delaying, preventing or fixing symptoms. While midbrain dopamine degeneration is a major focus for treatment and research, many other human disorders are impacted by abnormal dopamine, including drug addiction, autism and schizophrenia. Understanding dopamine neuron ontogeny and how dopamine connections and circuitry develops may provide us with key insights into potentially important avenues of research for other dopamine-related disorders. This review will provide a brief overview of the major molecular and genetic players throughout the development of midbrain dopamine neurons and what we know about the behavioral- and disease-related implications associated with perturbations to midbrain dopamine neuron development. We intend to combine the knowledge of two broad fields of neuroscience, both developmental and behavioral, with the intent on fostering greater discussion between branches of neuroscience in the service of addressing complex cognitive questions from a developmental perspective and identifying important gaps in our knowledge for future study.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia