Doctor of Philosophy, Harvard University (2009)
I am interested in how the Hedgehog signaling transduction is regulated, and how the mis-regulation of Hedgehog pathway leads to human diseases such as Medulloblastoma.
Organogenesis is a highly integrated process with a fundamental requirement for precise cell cycle control. Mechanistically, the cell cycle is composed of transitions and thresholds that are controlled by coordinated post-translational modifications. In this study, we describe a novel mechanism controlling the persistence of the transcription factor ATF4 by multisite phosphorylation. Proline-directed phosphorylation acted additively to regulate multiple aspects of ATF4 degradation. Stabilized ATF4 mutants exhibit decreased ?-TrCP degron phosphorylation, ?-TrCP interaction, and ubiquitination, as well as elicit early G(1) arrest. Expression of stabilized ATF4 also had significant consequences in the developing neocortex. Mutant ATF4 expressing cells exhibited positioning and differentiation defects that were attributed to early G(1) arrest, suggesting that neurogenesis is sensitive to ATF4 dosage. We propose that precise regulation of the ATF4 dosage impacts cell cycle control and impinges on neurogenesis.
View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M110.140699
View details for Web of Science ID 000283048200068
View details for PubMedID 20724472
The mechanisms underlying the normal development of neuronal morphology remain a fundamental question in neurobiology. Studies in cultured neurons have suggested that the position of the centrosome and the Golgi may predict the site of axon outgrowth. During neuronal migration in the developing cortex, however, the centrosome and Golgi are oriented toward the cortical plate at a time when axons grow toward the ventricular zone. In the current work, we use in situ live imaging to demonstrate that the centrosome and the accompanying polarized cytoplasm exhibit apical translocation in newborn cortical neurons preceding initial axon outgrowth. Disruption of centrosomal activity or downregulation of the centriolar satellite protein PCM-1 affects axon formation. We further show that downregulation of the centrosomal protein Cep120 impairs microtubule organization, resulting in increased centrosome motility. Decreased centrosome motility resulting from microtubule stabilization causes an aberrant centrosomal localization, leading to misplaced axonal outgrowth. Our results reveal the dynamic nature of the centrosome in developing cortical neurons, and implicate centrosome translocation and microtubule organization during the multipolar stage as important determinants of axon formation.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0381-10.2010
View details for Web of Science ID 000280789600013
View details for PubMedID 20685982
The psychiatric illness risk gene Disrupted in Schizophrenia-1 (DISC1) plays an important role in brain development; however, it is unclear how DISC1 is regulated during cortical development. Here, we report that DISC1 is regulated during embryonic neural progenitor proliferation and neuronal migration through an interaction with DIX domain containing-1 (Dixdc1), the third mammalian gene discovered to contain a Disheveled-Axin (DIX) domain. We determined that Dixdc1 functionally interacts with DISC1 to regulate neural progenitor proliferation by co-modulating Wnt-GSK3beta/beta-catenin signaling. However, DISC1 and Dixdc1 do not regulate migration via this pathway. During neuronal migration, we discovered that phosphorylation of Dixdc1 by cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) facilitates its interaction with the DISC1-binding partner Ndel1. Furthermore, Dixdc1 phosphorylation and its interaction with DISC1/Ndel1 in vivo is required for neuronal migration. Together, these data reveal that Dixdc1 integrates DISC1 into Wnt-GSK3beta/beta-catenin-dependent and -independent signaling pathways during cortical development and further delineate how DISC1 contributes to neuropsychiatric disorders.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.06.002
View details for Web of Science ID 000280221000007
View details for PubMedID 20624590
Neuronal migration is, along with axon guidance, one of the fundamental mechanisms underlying the wiring of the brain. As other organs, the nervous system has acquired the ability to grow both in size and complexity by using migration as a strategy to position cell types from different origins into specific coordinates, allowing for the generation of brain circuitries. Guidance of migrating neurons shares many features with axon guidance, from the use of substrates to the specific cues regulating chemotaxis. There are, however, important differences in the cell biology of these two processes. The most evident case is nucleokinesis, which is an essential component of migration that needs to be integrated within the guidance of the cell. Perhaps more surprisingly, the cellular mechanisms underlying the response of the leading process of migrating cells to guidance cues might be different to those involved in growth cone steering, at least for some neuronal populations.
View details for DOI 10.1101/cshperspect.a001834
View details for Web of Science ID 000279881400012
View details for PubMedID 20182622
Centrosome functions are important in multiple brain developmental processes. Proper functioning of the centrosome relies on assembly of protein components into the pericentriolar material. This dynamic assembly is mediated by the trafficking of pericentriolar satellites, which are comprised of centrosomal proteins. Here we demonstrate that trafficking of pericentriolar satellites requires the interaction between Hook3 and Pericentriolar Material 1 (PCM1). Hook3, previously shown to link the centrosome and the nucleus in C. elegans, is recruited to pericentriolar satellites through interaction with PCM1, a protein associated with schizophrenia. Disruption of the Hook3-PCM1 interaction in vivo impairs interkinetic nuclear migration, a featured behavior of embryonic neural progenitors. This in turn leads to overproduction of neurons and premature depletion of the neural progenitor pool in the developing neocortex. These results underscore the importance of centrosomal assembly in neurogenesis and provide potential insights into the etiology of brain developmental diseases related to the centrosome dysfunction.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.01.011
View details for Web of Science ID 000274136100007
View details for PubMedID 20152126
The Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) gene is disrupted by a balanced chromosomal translocation (1; 11) (q42; q14.3) in a Scottish family with a high incidence of major depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Subsequent studies provided indications that DISC1 plays a role in brain development. Here, we demonstrate that suppression of DISC1 expression reduces neural progenitor proliferation, leading to premature cell cycle exit and differentiation. Several lines of evidence suggest that DISC1 mediates this function by regulating GSK3beta. First, DISC1 inhibits GSK3beta activity through direct physical interaction, which reduces beta-catenin phosphorylation and stabilizes beta-catenin. Importantly, expression of stabilized beta-catenin overrides the impairment of progenitor proliferation caused by DISC1 loss of function. Furthermore, GSK3 inhibitors normalize progenitor proliferation and behavioral defects caused by DISC1 loss of function. Together, these results implicate DISC1 in GSK3beta/beta-catenin signaling pathways and provide a framework for understanding how alterations in this pathway may contribute to the etiology of psychiatric disorders.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2008.12.044
View details for Web of Science ID 000264403900009
View details for PubMedID 19303846
Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs), a class of glycosaminoglycan-modified proteins, control diverse patterning events via their regulation of growth-factor signaling and morphogen distribution. In C. elegans, zebrafish, and the mouse, heparan sulfate (HS) biosynthesis is required for normal axon guidance, and mutations affecting Syndecan (Sdc), a transmembrane HSPG, disrupt axon guidance in Drosophila embryos. Glypicans, a family of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked HSPGs, are expressed on axons and growth cones in vertebrates, but their role in axon guidance has not been determined. We demonstrate here that the Drosophila glypican Dally-like protein (Dlp) is required for proper axon guidance and visual-system function. Mosaic studies revealed that Dlp is necessary in both the retina and the brain for different aspects of visual-system assembly. Sdc mutants also showed axon guidance and visual-system defects, some that overlap with dlp and others that are unique. dlp+ transgenes were able to rescue some sdc visual-system phenotypes, but sdc+ transgenes were ineffective in rescuing dlp abnormalities. Together, these findings suggest that in some contexts HS chains provide the biologically critical component, whereas in others the structure of the protein core is also essential.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2005.03.039
View details for Web of Science ID 000229298100024
View details for PubMedID 15886101
Notch (N) is a cell surface receptor that mediates an evolutionarily ancient signaling pathway to control an extraordinarily broad spectrum of cell fates and developmental processes. To gain insights into the functions of N signaling in the adult brain, we examined the involvement of N in Drosophila olfactory learning and memory. Long-term memory (LTM) was disrupted by blocking N signaling in conditional mutants or by acutely induced expression of a dominant-negative N transgene. In contrast, neither learning nor early memory were affected. Furthermore, induced overexpression of a wild-type (normal) N transgene specifically enhanced LTM formation. These experiments demonstrate that N signaling contributes to LTM formation in the Drosophila adult brain.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0403497101
View details for Web of Science ID 000222534200042
View details for PubMedID 15220476
To evaluate the role played by mesolimbic dopaminergic system in the reinstatement of drug-seeking behavior induced by priming injections of morphine.After the extinguishment of morphine conditioned place preference (CPP), low-dose catecholaminergic neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) was bilaterally injected into ventral tegmental area (VTA, 1 g.L-1) and nucleus accumbens (NAc, 5 g.L-1) before being primed with low-dose morphine.The effects of drug-priming to induce reinstatement of morphine CPP could be completely abolished by 6-OHDA microinjected into VTA to damage the perikaryon of dopaminergic neurons, or into NAc to lesion the terminal field of the dopaminergic pathway.The functional integrality of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system is indispensable for drug priming-induced reinstatement of conditioned place preference.
View details for PubMedID 14601296
To test the hypothesis that peripheral electric stimulation (PES) may suppress the reinstatement of morphine-induced conditioned place preference (CPP) in rats as well as the drug craving of detoxified heroin addicts in a frequency-dependent manner.CPP model of the rat was constructed with two compartment automatic CPP apparatus, and the craving of the heroin addicts was assessed with a visual analogue scale (VAS).(1) PES of low frequency could prevent the drug priming- or foot shock-induced reinstatement of morphine CPP; (2) this effect was naloxone-reversible, suggesting a possible involvement of endogenous opioid mechanisms; and (3) PES of low frequency could also accelerate the rate of natural decay of drug craving in heroin addicts after successful abstinence.PES might serve as a therapeutic measure for the treatment of heroin addiction.
View details for PubMedID 12914237