Profiling of Human Neural Crest Chemoattractant Activity as a Replacement of Fetal Bovine Serum for In Vitro Chemotaxis Assays
2021-09-18, Dolde, Xenia, Karreman, Christiaan, Wiechers, Marianne F., Schildknecht, Stefan, Leist, Marcel
Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is the only known stimulus for the migration of human neural crest cells (NCCs). Non-animal chemoattractants are desirable for the optimization of chemotaxis as-says to be incorporated in a test battery for reproductive and developmental toxicity. We con-firmed here in an optimized transwell assay that FBS triggers directed migration along a con-centration gradient. The responsible factor was found to be a protein in the 30-100 kDa size range. In a targeted approach, we tested a large panel of serum constituents known to be chem-otactic for NCCs in animal models (e.g., VEGF, PDGF, FGF, SDF-1/CXCL12, ephrins, endothelin, Wnt, BMPs). None of the corresponding human proteins showed any effect in our chemotaxis assays based on human NCCs. We then examined, whether human cells would produce any fac-tor able to trigger NCC migration in a broad screening approach. We found that HepG2 hepa-toma cells produced chemotaxis-triggering activity (CTA). Using chromatographic methods and by employing the NCC chemotaxis test as bioassay, the responsible protein was enriched by up to 5000-fold. We also explored human serum and platelets as a direct source, independent of any cell culture manipulations. A CTA was enriched from platelet lysates several thousand-fold. Its temperature and protease sensitivity suggested also a protein component. The capacity of this factor to trigger chemotaxis was confirmed by single-cell video-tracking analysis of migrating NCCs. The human CTA characterized here may be employed in the future for the setup of assays testing for the disturbance of directed NCC migration by toxicants.
Prevention of neuronal apoptosis by astrocytes through thiol-mediated stress response modulation and accelerated recovery from proteotoxic stress
2018-12, Gutbier, Simon, Spreng, Anna-Sophie, Delp, Johannes, Schildknecht, Stefan, Karreman, Christiaan, Suciu, Ilinca, Brunner, Thomas, Gröttrup, Marcus, Leist, Marcel
The development of drugs directly interfering with neurodegeneration has proven to be astonishingly difficult. Alternative therapeutic approaches could result from a better understanding of the supportive function of glial cells for stressed neurons. Therefore, here, we investigated the mechanisms involved in the endogenous neuro-defensive activity of astrocytes. A well-established model of postmitotic human dopaminergic neurons (LUHMES cells) was used in the absence ('LUHMES' mono-culture) or presence ('co-culture') of astrocytes. Inhibition of the LUHMES proteasome led to proteotoxic (protein aggregates; ATF-4 induction) and oxidative (GSH-depletion; NRF-2 induction) stress, followed by neuronal apoptosis. The presence of astrocytes attenuated the neuronal stress response, and drastically reduced neurodegeneration. A similar difference between LUHMES mono- and co-cultures was observed, when proteotoxic and oxidative stress was triggered indirectly by inhibitors of mitochondrial function (rotenone, MPP+). Human and murine astrocytes continuously released glutathione (GSH) into the medium, and transfer of glia-conditioned medium was sufficient to rescue LUHMES, unless it was depleted for GSH. Also, direct addition of GSH to LUHMES rescued the neurons from inhibition of the proteasome. Both astrocytes and GSH blunted the neuronal ATF-4 response and similarly upregulated NRF-1/NFE2L1, a transcription factor counter-regulating neuronal proteotoxic stress. Astrocyte co-culture also helped to recover the neurons' ability to degrade aggregated poly-ubiquitinated proteins. Overexpression of NRF-1 attenuated the toxicity of proteasome inhibition, while knockdown increased toxicity. Thus, astrocytic thiol supply increased neuronal resilience to various proteotoxic stressors by simultaneously attenuating cell death-related stress responses, and enhancing the recovery from proteotoxic stress through upregulation of NRF-1.
Alpha-Synuclein Binds to the Inner Membrane of Mitochondria in an α-Helical Conformation
2014, Robotta, Marta, Gerding, Hanne R., Vogel, Antonia, Hauser, Karin, Schildknecht, Stefan, Karreman, Christiaan, Leist, Marcel, Subramaniam, Vinod, Drescher, Malte
The human alpha-Synuclein (αS) protein is of significant interest because of its association with Parkinson's disease and related neurodegenerative disorders. The intrinsically disordered protein (140 amino acids) is characterized by the absence of a well-defined structure in solution. It displays remarkable conformational flexibility upon macromolecular interactions, and can associate with mitochondrial membranes. Site-directed spin-labeling in combination with electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy enabled us to study the local binding properties of αS on artificial membranes (mimicking the inner and outer mitochondrial membranes), and to evaluate the importance of cardiolipin in this interaction. With pulsed, twofrequency, double-electron electron paramagnetic resonance (DEER) approaches, we examined, to the best of our knowledge for the first time, the conformation of αS bound to isolated mitochondria.
Autocatalytic Nitration of Prostaglandin Endoperoxide Synthase-2 by Nitrite Inhibits Prostanoid Formation in Rat Alveolar Macrophages.
2012-11-15, Schildknecht, Stefan, Karreman, Christiaan, Daiber, Andreas, Zhao, Cheng, Hamacher, Jürg, Perlman, David, Jung, Birgit, van der Loo, Bernd, O'Connor, Peter, Leist, Marcel, Ullrich, Volker, Bachschmid, Markus Michael
Prostaglandin endoperoxide H(2) synthase (PGHS) is a well-known target for peroxynitrite-mediated nitration. In several experimental macrophage models, however, the relatively late onset of nitration failed to coincide with the early peak of endogenous peroxynitrite formation. In the present work, we aimed to identify an alternative, peroxynitrite-independent mechanism, responsible for the observed nitration and inactivation of PGHS-2 in an inflammatory cell model. Results: In primary rat alveolar macrophages stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), PGHS-2 activity was suppressed after 12 h, although the prostaglandin endoperoxide H(2) synthase (PGHS-2) protein was still present. This coincided with a nitration of the enzyme. Coincubation with a nitric oxide synthase-2 (NOS-2) inhibitor preserved PGHS-2 nitration and at the same time restored thromboxane A(2) (TxA(2)) synthesis in the cells. Formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was maximal at 4 h and then returned to baseline levels. Nitrite (NO(2)(-)) production occurred later than ROS generation. This rendered generation of peroxynitrite and the nitration of PGHS-2 unlikely. We found that the nitrating agent was formed from NO(2)(-), independent from superoxide ((•)O(2)(-)). Purified PGHS-2 treated with NO(2)(-) was selectively nitrated on the active site Tyr(371), as identified by mass spectrometry (MS). Exposure to peroxynitrite resulted in the nitration not only of Tyr(371), but also of other tyrosines (Tyr). Innovation and Conclusion: The data presented here point to an autocatalytic nitration of PGHS-2 by NO(2)(-), catalyzed by the enzyme's endogenous peroxidase activity and indicate a potential involvement of this mechanism in the termination of prostanoid formation under inflammatory conditions.
Synuclein Family Members Prevent Membrane Damage by Counteracting α-Synuclein Aggregation
2021-08, Scheibe, Christian, Karreman, Christiaan, Schildknecht, Stefan, Leist, Marcel, Hauser, Karin
The 140 amino acid protein α-synuclein (αS) is an intrinsically disordered protein (IDP) with various roles and locations in healthy neurons that plays a key role in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Contact with biomembranes can lead to α-helical conformations, but can also act as s seeding event for aggregation and a predominant β-sheet conformation. In PD patients, αS is found to aggregate in various fibrillary structures, and the shift in aggregation and localization is associated with disease progression. Besides full-length αS, several related polypeptides are present in neurons. The role of many αS-related proteins in the aggregation of αS itself is not fully understood Two of these potential aggregation modifiers are the αS splicing variant αS Δexon3 (Δ3) and the paralog β-synuclein (βS). Here, polarized ATR-FTIR spectroscopy was used to study the membrane interaction of these proteins individually and in various combinations. The method allowed a continuous monitoring of both the lipid structure of biomimetic membranes and the aggregation state of αS and related proteins. The use of polarized light also revealed the orientation of secondary structure elements. While αS led to a destruction of the lipid membrane upon membrane-catalyzed aggregation, βS and Δ3 aggregated significantly less, and they did not harm the membrane. Moreover, the latter proteins reduced the membrane damage triggered by αS. There were no major differences in the membrane interaction for the different synuclein variants. In combination, these observations suggest that the formation of particular protein aggregates is the major driving force for αS-driven membrane damage. The misbalance of αS, βS, and Δ3 might therefore play a crucial role in neurodegenerative disease.
Simultaneous IR-spectroscopic observation of α-synuclein, lipids, and solvent reveals an alternative membrane-induced oligomerization pathway
2017-12-05, Fallah, Mohammad A., Gerding, Hanne R., Scheibe, Christian, Drescher, Malte, Karreman, Christiaan, Schildknecht, Stefan, Leist, Marcel, Hauser, Karin
The intrinsically disordered protein α-synuclein (αS), a known pathogenic factor for Parkinson's disease, can adopt defined secondary structures when interacting with membranes or during fibrillation. The αS-lipid interaction and the implications of this process for aggregation and damage to membranes are still poorly understood. Therefore, we established a label-free infrared (IR) spectroscopic approach to simultaneously monitor αS conformation and membrane integrity. IR showed its unique sensitivity for identifying distinct α-structured aggregates. A comparative study of wildtype αS and the naturally occurring splicing variant αS Δexon3 yielded new insights into the membrane's capability of altering aggregation pathways.
Oxidative and nitrative alpha-synuclein modifications and proteostatic stress : implications for disease mechanisms and interventions in synucleinopathies
2013-05, Schildknecht, Stefan, Gerding, Hanne R., Karreman, Christiaan, Drescher, Malte, Lashuel, Hilal A., Outeiro, Tiago F., Di Monte, Donato A., Leist, Marcel
Alpha-synuclein (ASYN) is a major constituent of the typical protein aggregates observed in several neurodegenerative diseases that are collectively referred to as synucleinopathies. A causal involvement of ASYN in the initiation and progression of neurological diseases is suggested by observations indicating that single-point (e.g., A30P, A53T) or multiplication mutations of the gene encoding for ASYN cause early onset forms of Parkinson's disease (PD). The relative regional specificity of ASYN pathology is still a riddle that cannot be simply explained by its expression pattern. Also, transgenic over-expression of ASYN in mice does not recapitulate the typical dopaminergic neuronal death observed in PD. Thus, additional factors must contribute to ASYN-related toxicity. For instance, synucleinopathies are usually associated with inflammation and elevated levels of oxidative stress in affected brain areas. In turn, these conditions favor oxidative modifications of ASYN. Among these modifications, nitration of tyrosine residues, formation of covalent ASYN dimers, as well as methionine sulfoxidations are prominent examples that are observed in post-mortem PD brain sections. Oxidative modifications can affect ASYN aggregation, as well as its binding to biological membranes. This would affect neurotransmitter recycling, mitochondrial function and dynamics (fission/fusion), ASYN's degradation within a cell and, possibly, the transfer of modified ASYN to adjacent cells. Here, we propose a model on how covalent modifications of ASYN link energy stress, altered proteostasis, and oxidative stress, three major pathogenic processes involved in PD progression. Moreover, we hypothesize that ASYN may act physiologically as a catalytically regenerated scavenger of oxidants in healthy cells, thus performing an important protective role prior to the onset of disease or during aging.
Reductive modification of genetically encoded 3-nitrotyrosine sites in alpha synuclein expressed in E.coli
2019-06, Gerding, Hanne R., Karreman, Christiaan, Daiber, Andreas, Delp, Johannes, Hammler, Daniel, Mex, Martin, Schildknecht, Stefan, Leist, Marcel
Tyrosine nitration is a post-translational protein modification relevant to various pathophysiological processes. Chemical nitration procedures have been used to generate and study nitrated proteins, but these methods regularly lead to modifications at other amino acid residues. A novel strategy employs a genetic code modification that allows incorporation of 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT) during ribosomal protein synthesis to generate a recombinant protein with defined 3-NT-sites, in the absence of other post-translational modifications. This approach was applied to study the generation and stability of the 3-NT moiety in recombinant proteins produced in E.coli. Nitrated alpha-synuclein (ASYN) was selected as exemplary protein, relevant in Parkinson's disease (PD). A procedure was established to obtain pure tyrosine-modified ASYN in mg amounts. However, a rapid (t1/2 = 0.4 h) reduction of 3-NT to 3-aminotyrosine (3-AT) was observed. When screening for potential mechanisms, we found that 3-NT can be reduced enzymatically to 3-AT, whilst biologically relevant low molecular weight reductants, such as NADPH or GSH, did not affect 3-NT. A genetic screen for E.coli proteins, involved in the observed 3-NT reduction, revealed the contribution of several, possibly redundant pathways. Green fluorescent protein was studied as an alternative model protein. These data confirm 3-NT reduction as a broadly-relevant pathway in E.coli. In conclusion, incorporation of 3-NT as a genetically-encoded non-natural amino acid allows for generation of recombinant proteins with specific nitration sites. The potential reduction of the 3-NT moiety by E.coli, however, requires attention to the design of the purification strategy for obtaining pure nitrated protein.
Preferential Extracellular Generation of the Active Parkinsonian Toxin MPP+ by Transporter-Independent Export of the Intermediate MPDP+
2015-11-01, Schildknecht, Stefan, Pape, Regina, Meiser, Johannes, Karreman, Christiaan, Strittmatter, Tobias, Odermatt, Meike, Cirri, Erica, Friemel, Anke, Ringwald, Markus, Pasquarelli, Noemi, Ferger, Boris, Brunner, Thomas, Marx, Andreas, Möller, Heiko M., Hiller, Karsten, Leist, Marcel
Aims: 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) is among the most widely used neurotoxins for inducing experimental parkinsonism. MPTP causes parkinsonian symptoms in mice, primates, and humans by killing a subpopulation of dopaminergic neurons. Extrapolations of data obtained using MPTP-based parkinsonism models to human disease are common; however, the precise mechanism by which MPTP is converted into its active neurotoxic metabolite, 1-methyl-4-phenyl-pyridinium (MPP+), has not been fully elucidated. In this study, we aimed to address two unanswered questions related to MPTP toxicology: (1) Why are MPTP-converting astrocytes largely spared from toxicity? (2) How does MPP+ reach the extracellular space?
Results: In MPTP-treated astrocytes, we discovered that the membrane-impermeable MPP+, which is generally assumed to be formed inside astrocytes, is almost exclusively detected outside of these cells. Instead of a transporter-mediated export, we found that the intermediate, 1-methyl-4-phenyl-2,3-dihydropyridinium (MPDP+), and/or its uncharged conjugate base passively diffused across cell membranes and that MPP+ was formed predominately by the extracellular oxidation of MPDP+ into MPP+. This nonenzymatic extracellular conversion of MPDP+ was promoted by O2, a more alkaline pH, and dopamine autoxidation products.
Innovation and Conclusion: Our data indicate that MPTP metabolism is compartmentalized between intracellular and extracellular environments, explain the absence of toxicity in MPTP-converting astrocytes, and provide a rationale for the preferential formation of MPP+ in the extracellular space. The mechanism of transporter-independent extracellular MPP+ formation described here indicates that extracellular genesis of MPP+ from MPDP is a necessary prerequisite for the selective uptake of this toxin by catecholaminergic neurons.
Generation of Genetically-Modified Human Differentiated Cells for Toxicological Tests and the Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases
2013, Schildknecht, Stefan, Karreman, Christiaan, Pöltl, Dominik, Efremova, Liudmila, Kullmann, Cornelius, Gutbier, Simon, Krug, Anne K., Scholz, Diana, Gerding, Hanne R., Leist, Marcel
Human differentiated cell types, such as neurons or hepatocytes, are of limited availability, and their use for experiments requiring ectopic gene expression is challenging. Using the human conditionally-immortalized neuronal precursor line LUHMES, we explored whether genetic modification in the proliferating state could be used for experiments in the differentiated post-mitotic neurons. First, alpha-synuclein (ASYN), a gene associated with the pathology of Parkinson’s disease, was overexpressed. Increased amounts of the protein were tolerated without change of phenotype, and this approach now allows further studies on protein variants. Knockdown of ASYN attenuated the toxicity of the parkinsonian toxicant 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+). Different lentiviral constructs then were tested: cells labeled ubiquitously with green (GFP) or red fluorescent protein (RFP) allowed the quantification of neurite growth and of its disturbance by toxicants; expression of proteins of interest could be targeted to different organelles; production of two different proteins from a single read-through construct was achieved successfully by an expression strategy using a linker peptide between the two proteins, which is cleaved by deubiquitinases; LUHMES, labeled with GFP in the cytosol and RFP in the mitochondria, were used to quantify mitochondrial mobility along the neurites. MPP+ reduced such organelle movement before any other detectable cellular change, and this toxicity was prevented by simultaneous treatment with the antioxidant ascorbic acid. Thus, a strategy has been outlined here to study new functional endpoints, and subtle changes of structure and proteostasis relevant in toxicology and biomedicine in post-mitotic human cells.