skip to main content


Title: Genipin Crosslinks the Extracellular Matrix to Rescue Developmental and Degenerative Defects, and Accelerates Regeneration of Peripheral Neurons
The peripheral nervous system (PNS) is essential for proper body function. A high percentage of the population suffer nerve degeneration or peripheral damage. For example, over 40% of patients with diabetes or undergoing chemotherapy develop peripheral neuropathies. Despite this, there are major gaps in the knowledge of human PNS development and therefore, there are no available treatments. Familial Dysautonomia (FD) is a devastating disorder that specifically affects the PNS making it an ideal model to study PNS dysfunction. FD is caused by a homozygous point mutation in ELP1 leading to developmental and degenerative defects in the sensory and autonomic lineages. We previously employed human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to show that peripheral sensory neurons (SNs) are not generated efficiently and degenerate over time in FD. Here, we conducted a chemical screen to identify compounds able to rescue this SN differentiation inefficiency. We identified that genipin, a compound prescribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine for neurodegenerative disorders, restores neural crest and SN development in FD, both in the hPSC model and in a FD mouse model. Additionally, genipin prevented FD neuronal degeneration, suggesting that it could be offered to patients suffering from PNS neurodegenerative disorders. We found that genipin crosslinks the extracellular matrix, increases the stiffness of the ECM, reorganizes the actin cytoskeleton, and promotes transcription of YAP-dependent genes. Finally, we show that genipin enhances axon regeneration in an in vitro axotomy model in healthy sensory and sympathetic neurons (part of the PNS) and in prefrontal cortical neurons (part of the central nervous system, CNS). Our results suggest genipin can be used as a promising drug candidate for treatment of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases, and as a enhancer of neuronal regeneration.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2010875
NSF-PAR ID:
10438066
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Science translational medicine
ISSN:
1946-6234
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a rare genetic neurologic disorder caused by impaired neuronal development and progressive degeneration of both the peripheral and central nervous systems. FD is monogenic, with >99.4% of patients sharing an identical point mutation in the elongator acetyltransferase complex subunit 1 (ELP1) gene, providing a relatively simple genetic background in which to identify modifiable factors that influence pathology. Gastrointestinal symptoms and metabolic deficits are common among FD patients, which supports the hypothesis that the gut microbiome and metabolome are altered and dysfunctional compared to healthy individuals. Here we show significant differences in gut microbiome composition (16 S rRNA gene sequencing of stool samples) and NMR-based stool and serum metabolomes between a cohort of FD patients (~14% of patients worldwide) and their cohabitating, healthy relatives. We show that key observations in human subjects are recapitulated in a neuron-specificElp1-deficient mouse model, and that cohousing mutant and littermate control mice ameliorates gut microbiome dysbiosis, improves deficits in gut transit, and reduces disease severity. Our results provide evidence that neurologic deficits in FD alter the structure and function of the gut microbiome, which shifts overall host metabolism to perpetuate further neurodegeneration.

     
    more » « less
  2. Human cerebral organoids derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) provide novel tools for recapitulating the cytoarchitecture of the human brain and for studying biological mechanisms of neurological disorders. However, the heterotypic interactions of neurovascular units, composed of neurons, pericytes (i.e., the tissue resident mesenchymal stromal cells), astrocytes, and brain microvascular endothelial cells, in brain-like tissues are less investigated. In addition, most cortical organoids lack a microglia component, the resident immune cells in the brain. Impairment of the blood-brain barrier caused by improper crosstalk between neural cells and vascular cells is associated with many neurodegenerative disorders. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), with a phenotype overlapping with pericytes, have promotion effects on neurogenesis and angiogenesis, which are mainly attributed to secreted growth factors and extracellular matrices. As the innate macrophages of the central nervous system, microglia regulate neuronal activities and promote neuronal differentiation by secreting neurotrophic factors and pro-/anti-inflammatory molecules. Neuronal-microglia interactions mediated by chemokines signaling can be modulated in vitro for recapitulating microglial activities during neurodegenerative disease progression. In this review, we discussed the cellular interactions and the physiological roles of neural cells with other cell types including endothelial cells and microglia based on iPSC models. The therapeutic roles of MSCs in treating neural degeneration and pathological roles of microglia in neurodegenerative disease progression were also discussed. 
    more » « less
  3. ABSTRACT Alphaherpesviruses such as herpes simplex virus and pseudorabies virus (PRV) are neuroinvasive double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses that establish lifelong latency in peripheral nervous system (PNS) neurons of their native hosts. Following reactivation, infection can spread back to the initial mucosal site of infection or, in rare cases, to the central nervous system, with usually serious outcomes. During entry and egress, viral capsids depend on microtubule-based molecular motors for efficient and fast transport. In axons of PNS neurons, cytoplasmic dynein provides force for retrograde movements toward the soma, and kinesins move cargo in the opposite, anterograde direction. The dynamic properties of virus particles in cells can be imaged by fluorescent protein fusions to the small capsid protein VP26, which are incorporated into capsids. However, single-color fluorescent protein tags fail to distinguish the virus inoculum from progeny. Therefore, we established a dual-color system by growing a recombinant PRV expressing a red fluorescent VP26 fusion (PRV180) on a stable cell line expressing a green VP26 fusion (PK15-mNG-VP26). The resulting dual-color virus preparation (PRV180G) contains capsids tagged with both red and green fluorescent proteins, and 97% of particles contain detectable levels of mNeonGreen (mNG)-tagged VP26. After replication in neuronal cells, all PRV180G progeny exclusively contain monomeric red fluorescent protein (mRFP)-VP26-tagged capsids. We used PRV180G for an analysis of axonal capsid transport dynamics in PNS neurons. Fast dual-color total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, single-particle tracking, and motility analyses reveal robust, bidirectional capsid motility mediated by cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin during entry, whereas egressing progeny particles are transported exclusively by kinesins. IMPORTANCE Alphaherpesviruses are neuroinvasive viruses that infect the peripheral nervous system (PNS) of infected hosts as an integral part of their life cycle. Establishment of a quiescent or latent infection in PNS neurons is a hallmark of most alphaherpesviruses. Spread of infection to the central nervous system is surprisingly rare in natural hosts but can be fatal. Pseudorabies virus (PRV) is a broad-host-range swine alphaherpesvirus that enters neuronal cells and utilizes intracellular transport processes to establish infection and to spread between cells. By using a virus preparation with fluorescent viral capsids that change color depending on the stage of the infectious cycle, we find that during entry, axons of PNS neurons support robust, bidirectional capsid motility, similar to cellular cargo, toward the cell body. In contrast, progeny particles appear to be transported unidirectionally by kinesin motors toward distal egress sites. 
    more » « less
  4. This work introduces Wearable deep learning (WearableDL) that is a unifying conceptual architecture inspired by the human nervous system, offering the convergence of deep learning (DL), Internet-of-things (IoT), and wearable technologies (WT) as follows: (1) the brain, the core of the central nervous system, represents deep learning for cloud computing and big data processing. (2) The spinal cord (a part of CNS connected to the brain) represents Internet-of-things for fog computing and big data flow/transfer. (3) Peripheral sensory and motor nerves (components of the peripheral nervous system (PNS)) represent wearable technologies as edge devices for big data collection. In recent times, wearable IoT devices have enabled the streaming of big data from smart wearables (e.g., smartphones, smartwatches, smart clothings, and personalized gadgets) to the cloud servers. Now, the ultimate challenges are (1) how to analyze the collected wearable big data without any background information and also without any labels representing the underlying activity; and (2) how to recognize the spatial/temporal patterns in this unstructured big data for helping end-users in decision making process, e.g., medical diagnosis, rehabilitation efficiency, and/or sports performance. Deep learning (DL) has recently gained popularity due to its ability to (1) scale to the big data size (scalability); (2) learn the feature engineering by itself (no manual feature extraction or hand-crafted features) in an end-to-end fashion; and (3) offer accuracy or precision in learning raw unlabeled/labeled (unsupervised/supervised) data. In order to understand the current state-of-the-art, we systematically reviewed over 100 similar and recently published scientific works on the development of DL approaches for wearable and person-centered technologies. The review supports and strengthens the proposed bioinspired architecture of WearableDL. This article eventually develops an outlook and provides insightful suggestions for WearableDL and its application in the field of big data analytics. 
    more » « less
  5. While the nervous system may be best known as the sensory communication center of an organism, recent research has revealed a myriad of multifaceted roles for both the CNS and PNS from early development to adult regeneration and remodeling. These systems work to orchestrate tissue pattern formation during embryonic development and continue shaping pattering through transitional periods such as metamorphosis and growth. During periods of injury or wounding, the nervous system has also been shown to influence remodeling and wound healing. The neuronal mechanisms responsible for these events are largely conserved across species, suggesting this evidence may be important in understanding and resolving many human defects and diseases. By unraveling these diverse roles, this paper highlights the necessity of broadening our perspective on the nervous system beyond its conventional functions. A comprehensive understanding of the complex interactions and contributions of the nervous system throughout development and adulthood has the potential to revolutionize therapeutic strategies and open new avenues for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. This review highlights an important role for the nervous system during the patterning and maintenance of complex tissues and provides a potential avenue for advancing biomedical applications.

     
    more » « less