1Mol. Psychiatry 2006 Jun 11: 557-66
TitleMolecular mechanisms contributing to dendritic spine alterations in the prefrontal cortex of subjects with schizophrenia.
AbstractPostmortem studies have revealed reduced densities of dendritic spines in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) of subjects with schizophrenia. However, the molecular mechanisms that might contribute to these alterations are unknown. Recent studies of the intracellular signals that regulate spine dynamics have identified members of the RhoGTPase family (e.g., CDC42, Rac1, RhoA) as critical regulators of spine structure. In addition, Duo and drebrin are spine-specific proteins that are critical for spine maintenance and spine formation, respectively. In order to determine whether the mRNA expression levels of CDC42, Rac1, RhoA, Duo or drebrin are altered in schizophrenia, tissue sections containing DLPFC area 9 from 15 matched pairs of subjects with schizophrenia and control subjects were processed for in situ hybridization. Expression levels of these mRNAs were also correlated with DLPFC spine density in a subset of the same subjects. In order to assess the potential influence of antipsychotic medications on the expression of these mRNAs, similar studies were conducted in monkeys chronically exposed to haloperidol or olanzapine. The expression of each of these mRNAs was lower in the gray matter of the subjects with schizophrenia compared to the control subjects, although only the reductions in CDC42 and Duo remained significant after corrections for multiple comparisons. In addition, spine density was strongly correlated with the expression levels of both Duo (r=0.73, P=0.007) and CDC42 (r=0.71, P=0.009) mRNAs. In contrast, the expression levels of CDC42 and Duo mRNAs were not altered in monkeys chronically exposed to antipsychotic medications. In conclusion, reduced expression of CDC42 and Duo mRNAs may represent molecular mechanisms that contribute to the decreased density of dendritic spines in the DLPFC of subjects with schizophrenia.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
2Biol. Psychiatry 2010 Jul 68: 25-32
TitleAltered cortical CDC42 signaling pathways in schizophrenia: implications for dendritic spine deficits.
AbstractSpine density on the basilar dendrites of pyramidal neurons is lower in layer 3, but not in layers 5 and 6, in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) of subjects with schizophrenia. The expression of CDC42 (cell division cycle 42), a RhoGTPase that regulates the outgrowth of the actin cytoskeleton and promotes spine formation, is also lower in schizophrenia; however, CDC42 mRNA is lower across layers 3-6, suggesting that other lamina-specific molecular alterations are critical for the spine deficits in the illness. The CDC42 effector proteins 3 and 4 (CDC42EP3, CDC42EP4) are preferentially expressed in DLPFC layers 2 and 3, and CDC42EP3 appears to assemble septin filaments in spine necks. Therefore, alterations in CDC42EP3 could contribute to the lamina-specific spine deficits in schizophrenia.
We measured transcript levels of CDC42, CDC42EP3, CDC42EP4; their interacting proteins (septins [SEPT2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11], anillin), and other spine-specific proteins (spinophilin, PSD-95, and synaptopodin) in the DLPFC from 31 subjects with schizophrenia and matched normal comparison subjects.
The expression of CDC42EP3 mRNA was significantly increased by 19.7%, and SEPT7 mRNA was significantly decreased by 6.9% in subjects with schizophrenia. Cortical levels of CDC42EP3 and SEPT7 mRNAs were not altered in monkeys chronically exposed to antipsychotic medications.
Activated CDC42 is thought to disrupt septin filaments transiently in spine necks, allowing the molecular translocations required for synaptic potentiation. Thus, altered CDC42 signaling via CDC42EP3 may perturb synaptic plasticity and contribute to the spine deficits observed in layer 3 pyramidal neurons in schizophrenia.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
3Biol. Psychiatry 2012 May 71: 906-14
TitleAbnormalities of the Duo/Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1/p21-activated kinase 1 pathway drive myosin light chain phosphorylation in frontal cortex in schizophrenia.
AbstractRecent studies on GTPases have suggested that reduced Duo and cell division cycle 42 (CDC42) transcript expression is involved in dendritic spine loss in schizophrenia. In murine models, Duo and CDC42 phosphorylate p21-activated kinase 1 (PAK1), which modifies the activity of regulatory myosin light chain (MLC) and cofilin by altering their phosphorylation. Therefore, we hypothesized that in schizophrenia abnormal Duo and CDC42 expression result in changes in MLC and/or cofilin phosphorylation, which might alter actin cytoskeleton dynamics underlying dendritic spine maintenance.
We performed Western blot protein expression analysis in postmortem brains from patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and a comparison group. We focused our studies in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC; n = 33 comparison group; n = 36 schizophrenia) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC; n = 29 comparison group; n = 35 schizophrenia).
In both ACC and DLPFC, we found a reduction of Duo expression and PAK1 phosphorylation in schizophrenia. CDC42 protein expression was decreased in ACC but not in DLPFC. In ACC, we observed decreased PAK1 phosphorylation and increased MLC phosphorylation (pMLC), whereas in DLPFC pMLC remained unchanged.
These data suggest a novel mechanism that might underlie dendritic spine loss in schizophrenia. The increase in pMLC seen in ACC might be associated with dendritic spine shrinkage. The lack of an effect on pMLC in DLPFC suggests that in schizophrenia PAK1 downstream pathways are differentially affected in these cortical areas.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
4World J. Biol. Psychiatry 2012 Oct 13: 550-4
TitleFunctional investigation of a schizophrenia GWAS signal at the CDC42 gene.
AbstractSNP rs2473277 upstream of the cell division cycle 42 (CDC42) gene was associated with schizophrenia in a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS). Reduced expression of CDC42 in schizophrenia has previously been reported. Our objective was to test whether the associated SNP affected CDC42 expression.
Two available SNP gene expression datasets were accessed to test the effect of rs2473277 on CDC42 expression: (i) the mRNA by SNP Browser, which presents results of a genome-wide linkage study of gene expression, and (ii) the Genevar HapMap expression dataset. rs2473277 is in strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) with the SNP rs2473307 (r(2) =0.96), which is predicted to affect transcription factor binding. rs2473307 was directly tested for allelic effects on gene expression using a gene reporter assay in a human neuronal cell line.
In both datasets, the schizophrenia risk allele at rs2473277 was associated with a reduction in CDC42 mRNA levels. In the reporter gene assay the risk allele at rs2473307 similarly reduced gene expression.
We found evidence that rs2473307, in strong LD with the schizophrenia associated SNP rs2473277, is a functional variant at CDC42 that may increase risk for schizophrenia by reducing expression of CDC42.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
5Front Mol Neurosci 2013 -1 6: 47
TitleMicroRNAs as the cause of schizophrenia in 22q11.2 deletion carriers, and possible implications for idiopathic disease: a mini-review.
AbstractThe 22q11.2 deletion is the strongest known genetic risk factor for schizophrenia. Research has implicated microRNA-mediated dysregulation in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) schizophrenia-risk. Primary candidate genes are DGCR8 (DiGeorge syndrome critical region gene 8), which encodes a component of the microprocessor complex essential for microRNA biogenesis, and MIR185, which encodes microRNA 185. Mouse models of 22q11.2DS have demonstrated alterations in brain microRNA biogenesis, and that DGCR8 haploinsufficiency may contribute to these alterations, e.g., via down-regulation of a specific microRNA subset. miR-185 was the top-scoring down-regulated microRNA in both the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, brain areas which are the key foci of schizophrenia research. This reduction in miR-185 expression contributed to dendritic and spine development deficits in hippocampal neurons. In addition, miR-185 has two validated targets (RhoA, CDC42), both of which have been associated with altered expression levels in schizophrenia. These combined data support the involvement of miR-185 and its down-stream pathways in schizophrenia. This review summarizes evidence implicating microRNA-mediated dysregulation in schizophrenia in both 22q11.2DS-related and idiopathic cases.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
6Psychiatry Res 2013 Nov 210: 351-6
TitleDizocilpine reduces head diameter of dendritic spines in the hippocampus of adolescent rats.
AbstractCognitive deficits are the core symptoms of schizophrenia. Spine deficits have been found in hippocampus of schizophrenia patients, and were associated with cognitive impairments. N-methyl-D-asparate receptors (NMDARs) had been known to play a critical role in synaptic pruning and stabilization during adolescence. In the present study, male adolescent rats were exposed to dizocilpine (MK-801) (0.2mg/kg i.p qd) or 0.9% saline for 14 days. Then spatial memory, spine morphological changes and RhoA, Rac1, CDC42 mRNA levels in hippocampus were measured. As a result, MK-801 impaired spatial memory in the adolescent rats, as well as reduced the proportion of mushroom spines and increased the proportion of stubby spines in hippocampus. MK-801 also reduced the expression levels of Rac1 and CDC42 mRNA and upregulated RhoA mRNA in hippocampus. These results imply that subchronic MK-801 administration during adolescence might disturb the expression of RhoA, Rac1 and CDC42 mRNA, and then lead to the decay of the spines in hippocampus, which could be involved in cognitive impairments in schizophrenia.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
7Cell. Signal. 2013 Oct 25: 2060-8
TitleRit subfamily small GTPases: regulators in neuronal differentiation and survival.
AbstractRas family small GTPases serve as binary molecular switches to regulate a broad array of cellular signaling cascades, playing essential roles in a vast range of normal physiological processes, with dysregulation of numerous Ras-superfamily G-protein-dependent regulatory cascades underlying the development of human disease. However, the physiological function for many "orphan" Ras-related GTPases remain poorly characterized, including members of the Rit subfamily GTPases. Rit is the founding member of a novel branch of the Ras subfamily, sharing close homology with the neuronally expressed Rin and Drosophila Ric GTPases. Here, we highlight recent studies using transgenic and knockout animal models which have begun to elucidate the physiological roles for the Rit subfamily, including emerging roles in the regulation of neuronal morphology and cellular survival signaling, and discuss new genetic data implicating Rit and Rin signaling in disorders such as cancer, Parkinson's disease, autism, and schizophrenia.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
8PLoS ONE 2013 -1 8: e59458
TitlePAK1 protein expression in the auditory cortex of schizophrenia subjects.
AbstractDeficits in auditory processing are among the best documented endophenotypes in schizophrenia, possibly due to loss of excitatory synaptic connections. Dendritic spines, the principal post-synaptic target of excitatory projections, are reduced in schizophrenia. p21-activated kinase 1 (PAK1) regulates both the actin cytoskeleton and dendritic spine density, and is a downstream effector of both kalirin and CDC42, both of which have altered expression in schizophrenia. This study sought to determine if there is decreased auditory cortex PAK1 protein expression in schizophrenia through the use of quantitative western blots of 25 schizophrenia subjects and matched controls. There was no significant change in PAK1 level detected in the schizophrenia subjects in our cohort. PAK1 protein levels within subject pairs correlated positively with prior measures of total kalirin protein in the same pairs. PAK1 level also correlated with levels of a marker of dendritic spines, spinophilin. These latter two findings suggest that the lack of change in PAK1 level in schizophrenia is not due to limited sensitivity of our assay to detect meaningful differences in PAK1 protein expression. Future studies are needed to evaluate whether alterations in PAK1 phosphorylation states, or alterations in protein expression of other members of the PAK family, are present in schizophrenia.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
9Cell Rep 2014 Dec 9: 2166-79
TitleCytoskeletal regulation by AUTS2 in neuronal migration and neuritogenesis.
AbstractMutations in the Autism susceptibility candidate 2 gene (AUTS2), whose protein is believed to act in neuronal cell nuclei, have been associated with multiple psychiatric illnesses, including autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia. Here we show that cytoplasmic AUTS2 is involved in the regulation of the cytoskeleton and neural development. Immunohistochemistry and fractionation studies show that AUTS2 localizes not only in nuclei, but also in the cytoplasm, including in the growth cones in the developing brain. AUTS2 activates Rac1 to induce lamellipodia but downregulates CDC42 to suppress filopodia. Our loss-of-function and rescue experiments show that a cytoplasmic AUTS2-Rac1 pathway is involved in cortical neuronal migration and neuritogenesis in the developing brain. These findings suggest that cytoplasmic AUTS2 acts as a regulator of Rho family GTPases to contribute to brain development and give insight into the pathology of human psychiatric disorders with AUTS2 mutations.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
10Nat. Chem. Biol. 2014 Jul 10: 590-7
TitleCdk5 induces constitutive activation of 5-HT6 receptors to promote neurite growth.
AbstractThe serotonin6 receptor (5-HT6R) is a promising target for treating cognitive deficits of schizophrenia often linked to alterations of neuronal development. This receptor controls neurodevelopmental processes, but the signaling mechanisms involved remain poorly understood. Using a proteomic strategy, we show that 5-HT6Rs constitutively interact with cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5). Expression of 5-HT6Rs in NG108-15 cells induced neurite growth and expression of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels, two hallmarks of neuronal differentiation. 5-HT6R-elicited neurite growth was agonist independent and prevented by the 5-HT6R antagonist SB258585, which behaved as an inverse agonist. Moreover, it required receptor phosphorylation at Ser350 by Cdk5 and CDC42 activity. Supporting a role of native 5-HT6Rs in neuronal differentiation, neurite growth of primary neurons was reduced by SB258585, by silencing 5-HT6R expression or by mutating Ser350 into alanine. These results reveal a functional interplay between Cdk5 and a G protein-coupled receptor to control neuronal differentiation.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
11Phytother Res 2014 May 28: 656-72
TitleHerbal therapeutics that block the oncogenic kinase PAK1: a practical approach towards PAK1-dependent diseases and longevity.
AbstractOver 35?years research on PAKs, RAC/CDC42(p21)-activated kinases, comes of age, and in particular PAK1 has been well known to be responsible for a variety of diseases such as cancer (mainly solid tumors), Alzheimer's disease, acquired immune deficiency syndrome and other viral/bacterial infections, inflammatory diseases (asthma and arthritis), diabetes (type 2), neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis, epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia, learning disability, autism, etc. Although several distinct synthetic PAK1-blockers have been recently developed, no FDA-approved PAK1 blockers are available on the market as yet. Thus, patients suffering from these PAK1-dependent diseases have to rely on solely a variety of herbal therapeutics such as propolis and curcumin that block PAK1 without affecting normal cell growth. Furthermore, several recent studies revealed that some of these herbal therapeutics significantly extend the lifespan of nematodes (C. elegans) and fruit flies (Drosophila), and PAK1-deficient worm lives longer than the wild type. Here, I outline mainly pathological phenotypes of hyper-activated PAK1 and a list of herbal therapeutics that block PAK1, but cause no side (harmful) effect on healthy people or animals.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
12PLoS ONE 2015 -1 10: e0145979
TitleHeterozygous Disruption of Autism susceptibility candidate 2 Causes Impaired Emotional Control and Cognitive Memory.
AbstractMutations in the Autism susceptibility candidate 2 gene (AUTS2) have been associated with a broad range of psychiatric illnesses including autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. We previously demonstrated that the cytoplasmic AUTS2 acts as an upstream factor for the Rho family small GTPase Rac1 and CDC42 that regulate the cytoskeletal rearrangements in neural cells. Moreover, genetic ablation of the Auts2 gene in mice has resulted in defects in neuronal migration and neuritogenesis in the developing cerebral cortex caused by inactivation of Rac1-signaling pathway, suggesting that AUTS2 is required for neural development. In this study, we conducted a battery of behavioral analyses on Auts2 heterozygous mutant mice to examine the involvement of Auts2 in adult cognitive brain functions. Auts2-deficient mice displayed a decrease in exploratory behavior as well as lower anxiety-like behaviors in the absence of any motor dysfunction. Furthermore, the capability for novel object recognition and cued associative memory were impaired in Auts2 mutant mice. Social behavior and sensory motor gating functions were, however, normal in the mutant mice as assessed by the three-chamber test and prepulse inhibition test, respectively. Together, our findings indicate that AUTS2 is critical for the acquisition of neurocognitive function.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
13Biol. Psychiatry 2015 Dec 78: 775-85
TitleAltered expression of CDC42 signaling pathway components in cortical layer 3 pyramidal cells in schizophrenia.
AbstractCognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia is associated with a lower density of dendritic spines on deep layer 3 pyramidal cells in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). These alterations appear to reflect dysregulation of the actin cytoskeleton required for spine formation and maintenance. Consistent with this idea, altered expression of genes in the cell division cycle 42 (CDC42)-CDC42 effector protein (CDC42EP) signaling pathway, a key organizer of the actin cytoskeleton, was previously reported in DLPFC gray matter from subjects with schizophrenia. We examined the integrity of the CDC42-p21-activated serine/threonine protein kinases (PAK)-LIM domain-containing serine/threonine protein kinases (LIMK) signaling pathway in schizophrenia in a layer-specific and cell type-specific fashion in DLPFC deep layer 3.
Using laser microdissection, samples of DLPFC deep layer 3 were collected from 56 matched pairs of subjects with schizophrenia and comparison subjects, and levels of CDC42-PAK-LIMK pathway messenger RNAs were measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. These same transcripts also were quantified by microarray in samples of individually microdissected deep layer 3 pyramidal cells from a subset of the same subjects and from monkeys exposed to antipsychotics.
Relative to comparison subjects, CDC42EP4, LIMK1, LIMK2, ARHGDIA, and PAK3 messenger RNA levels were significantly upregulated in subjects with schizophrenia in laminar and cellular samples. In contrast, CDC42 and PAK1 messenger RNA levels were significantly downregulated specifically in deep layer 3 pyramidal cells. These differences were not attributable to psychotropic medications or other comorbid factors.
Findings from the present and prior studies converge on synergistic alterations in CDC42 signaling pathway that could destabilize actin dynamics and produce spine deficits preferentially in deep layer 3 pyramidal cells in schizophrenia.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
14Neuron 2015 May 86: 680-95
TitleMolecular substrates of altered axonal growth and brain connectivity in a mouse model of schizophrenia.
Abstract22q11.2 deletion carriers show specific cognitive deficits, and ?30% of them develop schizophrenia. One of the disrupted genes is ZDHHC8, which encodes for a palmitoyltransferase. We show that Zdhhc8-deficient mice have reduced palmitoylation of proteins that regulate axonal growth and branching. Analysis of axonal projections of pyramidal neurons from both Zdhhc8-deficient and Df(16)A(+/-) mice, which model the 22q11.2 deletion, revealed deficits in axonal growth and terminal arborization, which can be prevented by reintroduction of active ZDHHC8 protein. Impaired terminal arborization is accompanied by a reduction in the strength of synaptic connections and altered functional connectivity and working memory. The effect of ZDHHC8 is mediated in part via CDC42-dependent modulation of Akt/Gsk3? signaling at the tip of the axon and can be reversed by pharmacologically decreasing Gsk3? activity during postnatal brain development. Our findings provide valuable mechanistic insights into the cognitive and psychiatric symptoms associated with a schizophrenia-predisposing mutation.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
15Mol. Psychiatry 2015 Sep 20: 1120-31
TitleNOMA-GAP/ARHGAP33 regulates synapse development and autistic-like behavior in the mouse.
AbstractNeuropsychiatric developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and schizophrenia, are typically characterized by alterations in social behavior and have been linked to aberrant dendritic spine and synapse development. Here we show, using genetically engineered mice, that the CDC42 GTPase-activating multiadaptor protein, NOMA-GAP, regulates autism-like social behavior in the mouse, as well as dendritic spine and synapse development. Surprisingly, we were unable to restore spine morphology or autism-associated social behavior in NOMA-GAP-deficient animals by Cre-mediated deletion of CDC42 alone. Spine morphology can be restored in vivo by re-expression of wild-type NOMA-GAP or a mutant of NOMA-GAP that lacks the RhoGAP domain, suggesting that other signaling functions are involved. Indeed, we show that NOMA-GAP directly interacts with several MAGUK (membrane-associated guanylate kinase) proteins, and that this modulates NOMA-GAP activity toward CDC42. Moreover, we demonstrate that NOMA-GAP is a major regulator of PSD-95 in the neocortex. Loss of NOMA-GAP leads to strong upregulation of serine 295 phosphorylation of PSD-95 and moreover to its subcellular mislocalization. This is associated with marked loss of surface ?-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor and defective synaptic transmission, thereby providing a molecular basis for autism-like social behavior in the absence of NOMA-GAP.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
16Hippocampus 2015 Mar 25: 373-84
TitleInhibiting geranylgeranyltransferase I activity decreases spine density in central nervous system.
AbstractGeranylgeranyltransferase I (GGT), a protein prenyltransferase, is responsible for the posttranslational lipidation of Rho GTPases, such as Rac, Rho and CDC42, all of which play an important role in neuronal synaptogenesis. We previously demonstrated that GGT promotes dendritic morphogenesis in cultured hippocampal neurons and cerebellar slices. We report here that inhibiting GGT activity decreases basal- and activity-dependent changes in spine density as well as in learning and memory ability of mice in vivo. We found that KCl- or bicuculline-induced dendritic spine density increases was abolished by specific GGT inhibitor GGTi-2147 treatment in cultured hippocampal neurons. GGTi-2147 lateral ventricular injection reduced GGT activity and membrane association of Rac and decreased the density of dendritic spines in the mouse hippocampus, frontal cortex and cerebellum. GGTi-2147 administration also impaired learning and memory ability of mice. More importantly, mice exposed to environmental enrichment (EE) showed increased spine density and learning and memory ability, which were significantly reversed by GGTi-2147 administration. These data demonstrate that inhibiting GGT activity prevents both basal- and activity-dependent changes in spine density in central nervous system both in vitro and in vivo. Manipulating GGT activity may be a promising strategy for the therapies of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, depression, and schizophrenia.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia
17Front Neurosci 2016 -1 10: 150
TitleEFhd2, a Protein Linked to Alzheimer's Disease and Other Neurological Disorders.
AbstractEFhd2 is a conserved calcium binding protein linked to different neurological disorders and types of cancer. Although, EFhd2 is more abundant in neurons, it is also found in other cell types. The physiological function of this novel protein is still unclear, but it has been shown in vitro to play a role in calcium signaling, apoptosis, actin cytoskeleton, and regulation of synapse formation. Recently, EFhd2 was shown to promote cell motility by modulating the activity of Rac1, CDC42, and RhoA. Although, EFhd2's role in promoting cell invasion and metastasis is of great interest in cancer biology, this review focusses on the evidence that links EFhd2 to Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other neurological disorders. Altered expression of EFhd2 has been documented in AD, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and schizophrenia, indicating that Efhd2 gene expression is regulated in response to neuropathological processes. However, the specific role that EFhd2 plays in the pathophysiology of neurological disorders is still poorly understood. Recent studies demonstrated that EFhd2 has structural characteristics similar to amyloid proteins found in neurological disorders. Moreover, EFhd2 co-aggregates and interacts with known neuropathological proteins, such as tau, C9orf72, and Lrrk2. These results suggest that EFhd2 may play an important role in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, the understanding of EFhd2's role in health and disease could lead to decipher molecular mechanisms that become activated in response to neuronal stress and degeneration.
SCZ Keywordsschizophrenia