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      Impairment of Membrane Repolarization Accompanies Axon Transport Deficits in Glaucoma

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          Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness worldwide, resulting from degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), which form the optic nerve. In glaucoma, axon transport deficits appear to precede structural degeneration of RGC axons. The period of time between the onset of axon transport deficits and the structural degeneration of RGC axons may represent a therapeutic window for the prevention of irreversible vision loss. However, it is unclear how deficits in axon transport relate to the electrophysiological capacity of RGCs to produce and maintain firing frequencies that encode visual stimuli. Here, we examined the electrophysiological signature of individual RGCs in glaucomatous retina with respect to axon transport facility. Utilizing the Microbead Occlusion Model of murine ocular hypertension, we performed electrophysiological recordings of RGCs with and without deficits in anterograde axon transport. We found that RGCs with deficits in axon transport have a reduced ability to maintain spiking frequency that arises from elongation of the repolarization phase of the action potential. This repolarization phenotype arises from reduced cation flux and K+ dyshomeostasis that accompanies pressure-induced decreases in Na/K-ATPase expression and activity. In vitro studies with purified RGCs indicate that elevated pressure induces early internalization of Na/K-ATPase that, when reversed, stabilizes cation flux and prevents K+ dyshomeostasis. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of the Na/K-ATPase is sufficient to replicate pressure-induced cation influx and repolarization phase phenotypes in healthy RGCs. These studies suggest that deficits in axon transport also likely reflect impaired electrophysiological function of RGCs. Our findings further identify a failure to maintain electrochemical gradients and cation dyshomeostasis as an early phenotype of glaucomatous pathology in RGCs that may have significant bearing on efforts to restore RGC health in diseased retina.

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          Most cited references 47

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          Identification of programmed cell death in situ via specific labeling of nuclear DNA fragmentation

          Programmed cell death (PCD) plays a key role in developmental biology and in maintenance of the steady state in continuously renewing tissues. Currently, its existence is inferred mainly from gel electrophoresis of a pooled DNA extract as PCD was shown to be associated with DNA fragmentation. Based on this observation, we describe here the development of a method for the in situ visualization of PCD at the single-cell level, while preserving tissue architecture. Conventional histological sections, pretreated with protease, were nick end labeled with biotinylated poly dU, introduced by terminal deoxy- transferase, and then stained using avidin-conjugated peroxidase. The reaction is specific, only nuclei located at positions where PCD is expected are stained. The initial screening includes: small and large intestine, epidermis, lymphoid tissues, ovary, and other organs. A detailed analysis revealed that the process is initiated at the nuclear periphery, it is relatively short (1-3 h from initiation to cell elimination) and that PCD appears in tissues in clusters. The extent of tissue-PCD revealed by this method is considerably greater than apoptosis detected by nuclear morphology, and thus opens the way for a variety of studies.
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            Lysosomal proteolysis inhibition selectively disrupts axonal transport of degradative organelles and causes an Alzheimer's-like axonal dystrophy.

            In the hallmark neuritic dystrophy of Alzheimer's disease (AD), autophagic vacuoles containing incompletely digested proteins selectively accumulate in focal axonal swellings, reflecting defects in both axonal transport and autophagy. Here, we investigated the possibility that impaired lysosomal proteolysis could be a basis for both of these defects leading to neuritic dystrophy. In living primary mouse cortical neurons expressing fluorescence-tagged markers, LC3-positive autophagosomes forming in axons rapidly acquired the endo-lysosomal markers Rab7 and LAMP1 and underwent exclusive retrograde movement. Proteolytic clearance of these transported autophagic vacuoles was initiated after fusion with bidirectionally moving lysosomes that increase in number at more proximal axon levels and in the perikaryon. Disrupting lysosomal proteolysis by either inhibiting cathepsins directly or by suppressing lysosomal acidification slowed the axonal transport of autolysosomes, late endosomes, and lysosomes and caused their selective accumulation within dystrophic axonal swellings. Mitochondria and other organelles lacking cathepsins moved normally under these conditions, indicating that the general functioning of the axonal transport system was preserved. Dystrophic swellings induced by lysosomal proteolysis inhibition resembled in composition those in several mouse models of AD and also acquired other AD-like features, including immunopositivity for ubiquitin, amyloid precursor protein, and hyperphosphorylated neurofilament proteins. Restoration of lysosomal proteolysis reversed the affected movements of proteolytic Rab7 vesicles, which in turn essentially cleared autophagic substrates and reversed the axonal dystrophy. These studies identify the AD-associated defects in neuronal lysosomal proteolysis as a possible basis for the selective transport abnormalities and highly characteristic pattern of neuritic dystrophy associated with AD.
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              Distal axonopathy with structural persistence in glaucomatous neurodegeneration.

              An early hallmark of neuronal degeneration is distal transport loss and axon pathology. Glaucoma involves the degeneration of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) neurons and their axons in the optic nerve. Here we show that, like other neurodegenerations, distal axon injury appears early in mouse glaucoma. Where RGC axons terminate in the superior colliculus, reduction of active transport follows a retinotopic pattern resembling glaucomatous vision loss. Like glaucoma, susceptibility to transport deficits increases with age and is not necessarily associated with elevated ocular pressure. Transport deficits progress distal-to-proximal, appearing in the colliculus first followed by more proximal secondary targets and then the optic tract. Transport persists through the optic nerve head before finally failing in the retina. Although axon degeneration also progresses distal-to-proximal, myelinated RGC axons and their presynaptic terminals persist in the colliculus well after transport fails. Thus, distal transport loss is predegenerative and may represent a therapeutic target.

                Author and article information

                Front Neurosci
                Front Neurosci
                Front. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                01 November 2019
                : 13
                1Department of Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University , Nashville, TN, United States
                2Vanderbilt Eye Institute, Vanderbilt University Medical Center , Nashville, TN, United States
                3Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine , Nashville, TN, United States
                Author notes

                Edited by: Rafael Linden, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

                Reviewed by: Alan Harvey, The University of Western Australia, Australia; Francisco Javier Valiente-Soriano, University of Murcia, Spain

                *Correspondence: Rebecca M. Sappington, rsapping@ 123456wakehealth.edu

                This article was submitted to Neurodegeneration, a section of the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience

                Copyright © 2019 Fischer, Risner, Roux, Wareham and Sappington.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 7, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 56, Pages: 16, Words: 0
                Funded by: National Eye Institute 10.13039/100000053
                Award ID: RO1EY020496
                Award ID: RO1EY027729
                Award ID: R21EY026176
                Award ID: P30EY08126
                Funded by: Research to Prevent Blindness 10.13039/100001818
                Award ID: Unrestricted Departmental Award (Vanderbilt Eye Institute)
                Original Research


                retina, retinal ganglion cells, glaucoma, na/k-atpase, potassium, microbead


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