Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Publications michael-coleman

Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

NMN Deamidase Delays Wallerian Degeneration and Rescues Axonal Defects Caused by NMNAT2 Deficiency In Vivo.
Di Stefano M, Loreto A, Orsomando G, Mori V, Zamporlini F, Hulse RP, Webster J, Donaldson LF, Gering M, Raffaelli N, Coleman MP, Gilley J, Conforti L

Axons require the axonal NAD-synthesizing enzyme NMNAT2 to survive. Injury or genetically induced depletion of NMNAT2 triggers axonal degeneration or defective axon growth. We have previously proposed that axonal NMNAT2 primarily promotes axon survival by maintaining low levels of its substrate NMN rather than generating NAD; however, this is still debated. NMN deamidase, a bacterial enzyme, shares NMN-consuming activity with NMNAT2, but not NAD-synthesizing activity, and it delays axon degeneration in primary neuronal cultures. Here we show that NMN deamidase can also delay axon degeneration in zebrafish larvae and in transgenic mice. Like overexpressed NMNATs, NMN deamidase reduces NMN accumulation in injured mouse sciatic nerves and preserves some axons for up to three weeks, even when expressed at a low level. Remarkably, NMN deamidase also rescues axonal outgrowth and perinatal lethality in a dose-dependent manner in mice lacking NMNAT2. These data further support a pro-degenerative effect of accumulating NMN in axons in vivo. The NMN deamidase mouse will be an important tool to further probe the mechanisms underlying Wallerian degeneration and its prevention.

+ View Abstract

Current biology : CB, , 1879-0445, , 2017

PMID: 28262487

KIF1A mediates axonal transport of BACE1 and identification of independently moving cargoes in living SCG neurons.
Hung CO, Coleman MP

Neurons rely heavily on axonal transport to deliver materials from the sites of synthesis to the axon terminals over distances that can be many centimetres long. KIF1A is the neuron-specific kinesin with the fastest reported anterograde motor activity. Previous studies have shown that KIF1A transports a subset of synaptic proteins, neurofilaments and dense-core vesicles. Using two-colour live imaging, we showed that BACE1-mCherry moves together with KIF1A-GFP in both the anterograde and retrograde directions in SCG neurons. We confirmed that KIF1A is functionally required for BACE1 transport by using KIF1A siRNA and a KIF1A mutant construct (KIF1A-T312M) to impair its motor activity. We further identified several cargoes that have little or no co-migration with KIF1A-GFP and also move independently from BACE1-mCherry. Together, these findings support a primary role for KIF1A in the anterograde transport of BACE1 and suggest that axonally transported cargoes are sorted into different classes of carrier vesicles in the cell body and are transported by cargo-specific motor proteins through the axon.

+ View Abstract

Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark), , 1600-0854, , 2016

PMID: 27484852

Synaptophysin depletion and intraneuronal Aβ in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures from huAPP transgenic mice.
Harwell CS, Coleman MP

To date, there are no effective disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD). In order to develop new therapeutics for stages where they are most likely to be effective, it is important to identify the first pathological alterations in the disease cascade. Changes in Aβ concentration have long been reported as one of the first steps, but understanding the source, and earliest consequences, of pathology requires a model system that represents all major CNS cell types, is amenable to repeated observation and sampling, and can be readily manipulated. In this regard, long term organotypic hippocampal slice cultures (OHSCs) from neonatal amyloid mice offer an excellent compromise between in vivo and primary culture studies, largely retaining the cellular composition and neuronal architecture of the in vivo hippocampus, but with the in vitro advantages of accessibility to live imaging, sampling and intervention.

+ View Abstract

Molecular neurodegeneration, 11, 1750-1326, 44, 2016

PMID: 27287430

Application of virtual screening to the discovery of novel nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) inhibitors with potential for the treatment of cancer and axonopathies.
Clark DE, Waszkowycz B, Wong M, Lockey PM, Adalbert R, Gilley J, Clark J, Coleman MP

NAMPT may represent a novel target for drug discovery in various therapeutic areas, including oncology and inflammation. Additionally, recent work has suggested that targeting NAMPT has potential in treating axon degeneration. In this work, publicly available X-ray co-crystal structures of NAMPT and the structures of two known NAMPT inhibitors were used as the basis for a structure- and ligand-based virtual screening campaign. From this, two novel series of NAMPT inhibitors were identified, one of which showed a statistically significant protective effect when tested in a cellular model of axon degeneration.

+ View Abstract

Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters, , 1464-3405, , 2016

PMID: 27158141

Open Access

Mislocalization of neuronal tau in the absence of tangle pathology in phosphomutant tau knockin mice.
Gilley J, Ando K, Seereeram A, Rodríguez-Martín T, Pooler AM, Sturdee L, Anderton BH, Brion JP, Hanger DP, Coleman MP

Hyperphosphorylation and fibrillar aggregation of the microtubule-associated protein tau are key features of Alzheimer's disease and other tauopathies. To investigate the involvement of tau phosphorylation in the pathological process, we generated a pair of complementary phosphomutant tau knockin mouse lines. One exclusively expresses phosphomimetic tau with 18 glutamate substitutions at serine and/or threonine residues in the proline-rich and first microtubule-binding domains to model hyperphosphorylation, whereas its phosphodefective counterpart has matched alanine substitutions. Consistent with expected effects of genuine phosphorylation, association of the phosphomimetic tau with microtubules and neuronal membranes is severely disrupted in vivo, whereas the phosphodefective mutations have more limited or no effect. Surprisingly, however, age-related mislocalization of tau is evident in both lines, although redistribution appears more widespread and more pronounced in the phosphomimetic tau knockin. Despite these changes, we found no biochemical or immunohistological evidence of pathological tau aggregation in mice of either line up to at least 2 years of age. These findings raise important questions about the role of tau phosphorylation in driving pathology in human tauopathies.

+ View Abstract

Neurobiology of aging, 39, 1558-1497, 1-18, 2016

PMID: 26923397

Open Access

Reduced number of axonal mitochondria and tau hypophosphorylation in mouse P301L tau knockin neurons.
Rodríguez-Martín T, Pooler AM, Lau DH, Mórotz GM, De Vos KJ, Gilley J, Coleman MP, Hanger DP

Expression of the frontotemporal dementia-related tau mutation, P301L, at physiological levels in adult mouse brain (KI-P301L mice) results in overt hypophosphorylation of tau and age-dependent alterations in axonal mitochondrial transport in peripheral nerves. To determine the effects of P301L tau expression in the central nervous system, we examined the kinetics of mitochondrial axonal transport and tau phosphorylation in primary cortical neurons from P301L knock-in (KI-P301L) mice. We observed a significant 50% reduction in the number of mitochondria in the axons of cortical neurons cultured from KI-P301L mice compared to wild-type neurons. Expression of murine P301L tau did not change the speed, direction of travel or likelihood of movement of mitochondria. Notably, the angle that defines the orientation of the mitochondria in the axon, and the volume of individual moving mitochondria, were significantly increased in neurons expressing P301L tau. We found that murine tau phosphorylation in KI-P301L mouse neurons was diminished and the ability of P301L tau to bind to microtubules was also reduced compared to tau in wild-type neurons. The P301L mutation did not influence the ability of murine tau to associate with membranes in cortical neurons or in adult mouse brain. We conclude that P301L tau is associated with mitochondrial changes and causes an early reduction in murine tau phosphorylation in neurons coupled with impaired microtubule binding of tau. These results support the association of mutant tau with detrimental effects on mitochondria and will be of significance for the pathogenesis of tauopathies.

+ View Abstract

Neurobiology of disease, 85, 1095-953X, 1-10, 2015

PMID: 26459111

Open Access

Short-term diabetic hyperglycemia suppresses celiac ganglia neurotransmission, thereby impairing sympathetically mediated glucagon responses.
Mundinger TO, Cooper E, Coleman MP, Taborsky GJ

Short-term hyperglycemia suppresses superior cervical ganglia neurotransmission. If this ganglionic dysfunction also occurs in the islet sympathetic pathway, sympathetically mediated glucagon responses could be impaired. Our objectives were 1) to test for a suppressive effect of 7 days of streptozotocin (STZ) diabetes on celiac ganglia (CG) activation and on neurotransmitter and glucagon responses to preganglionic nerve stimulation, 2) to isolate the defect in the islet sympathetic pathway to the CG itself, and 3) to test for a protective effect of the WLD(S) mutation. We injected saline or nicotine in nondiabetic and STZ-diabetic rats and measured fos mRNA levels in whole CG. We electrically stimulated the preganglionic or postganglionic nerve trunk of the CG in nondiabetic and STZ-diabetic rats and measured portal venous norepinephrine and glucagon responses. We repeated the nicotine and preganglionic nerve stimulation studies in nondiabetic and STZ-diabetic WLD(S) rats. In STZ-diabetic rats, the CG fos response to nicotine was suppressed, and the norepinephrine and glucagon responses to preganglionic nerve stimulation were impaired. In contrast, the norepinephrine and glucagon responses to postganglionic nerve stimulation were normal. The CG fos response to nicotine, and the norepinephrine and glucagon responses to preganglionic nerve stimulation, were normal in STZ-diabetic WLD(S) rats. In conclusion, short-term hyperglycemia's suppressive effect on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors of the CG impairs sympathetically mediated glucagon responses. WLD(S) rats are protected from this dysfunction. The implication is that this CG dysfunction may contribute to the impaired glucagon response to insulin-induced hypoglycemia seen early in type 1 diabetes.

+ View Abstract

American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism, 309, 1522-1555, E246-55, 2015

PMID: 26037249

Absence of SARM1 rescues development and survival of NMNAT2-deficient axons.
Gilley J, Orsomando G, Nascimento-Ferreira I, Coleman MP

SARM1 function and nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase 2 (NMNAT2) loss both promote axon degeneration, but their relative relationship in the process is unknown. Here, we show that NMNAT2 loss and resultant changes to NMNAT metabolites occur in injured SARM1-deficient axons despite their delayed degeneration and that axon degeneration specifically induced by NMNAT2 depletion requires SARM1. Strikingly, SARM1 deficiency also corrects axon outgrowth in mice lacking NMNAT2, independently of NMNAT metabolites, preventing perinatal lethality. Furthermore, NAMPT inhibition partially restores outgrowth of NMNAT2-deficient axons, suggesting that the NMNAT substrate, NMN, contributes to this phenotype. NMNAT2-depletion-dependent degeneration of established axons and restricted extension of developing axons are thus both SARM1 dependent, and SARM1 acts either downstream of NMNAT2 loss and NMN accumulation in a linear pathway or in a parallel branch of a convergent pathway. Understanding the pathway will help establish relationships with other modulators of axon survival and facilitate the development of effective therapies for axonopathies.

+ View Abstract

Cell reports, 10, 2211-1247, 1974-81, 2015

PMID: 25818290

Open Access

Axonal transport declines with age in two distinct phases separated by a period of relative stability.
Milde S, Adalbert R, Elaman MH, Coleman MP

Axonal transport is critical for supplying newly synthesized proteins, organelles, mRNAs, and other cargoes from neuronal cell bodies into axons. Its impairment in many neurodegenerative conditions appears likely to contribute to pathogenesis. Axonal transport also declines during normal aging, but little is known about the timing of these changes, or about the effect of aging on specific cargoes in individual axons. This is important for understanding mechanisms of age-related axon loss and age-related axonal disorders. Here we use fluorescence live imaging of peripheral nerve and central nervous system tissue explants to investigate vesicular and mitochondrial axonal transport. Interestingly, we identify 2 distinct periods of change, 1 period during young adulthood and the other in old age, separated by a relatively stable plateau during most of adult life. We also find that after tibial nerve regeneration, even in old animals, neurons are able to support higher transport rates of each cargo for a prolonged period. Thus, the age-related decline in axonal transport is not an inevitable consequence of either aging neurons or an aging systemic milieu.

+ View Abstract

Neurobiology of aging, , 1558-1497, , 2014

PMID: 25443288

Open Access

The Axon-Protective WLD(S) Protein Partially Rescues Mitochondrial Respiration and Glycolysis After Axonal Injury.
Godzik K, Coleman MP

The axon-protective Wallerian degeneration slow (WLD(S)) protein can ameliorate the decline in axonal ATP levels after neurite transection. Here, we tested the hypothesis that this effect is associated with maintenance of mitochondrial respiration and/or glycolysis. We used isolated neurites of superior cervical ganglion (SCG) cultures in the Seahorse XF-24 Metabolic Flux Analyser to determine mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis under different conditions. We observed that both mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis declined significantly during the latent phase of Wallerian degeneration. WLD(S) partially reduced the decline both in glycolysis and in mitochondrial respiration. In addition, we found that depleting NAD levels in uncut cultures led to changes in mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis similar to those rescued by WLD(S) after cut, suggesting that the maintenance of NAD levels in Wld (S) neurites after axonal injury at least partially underlies the maintenance of ATP levels. However, by using another axon-protective mutation (Sarm1 (-/-)), we could demonstrate that rescue of basal ECAR (and hence probably glycolysis) rather than basal OCR (mitochondrial respiration) may be part of the protective phenotype to delay Wallerian degeneration. These findings open new routes to study glycolysis and the connection between NAD and ATP levels in axon degeneration, which may help to eventually develop therapeutic strategies to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

+ View Abstract

Journal of molecular neuroscience : MN, , 1559-1166, , 2014

PMID: 25352062

Open Access

A rise in NAD precursor nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) after injury promotes axon degeneration.
Di Stefano M, Nascimento-Ferreira I, Orsomando G, Mori V, Gilley J, Brown R, Janeckova L, Vargas ME, Worrell LA, Loreto A, Tickle J, Patrick J, Webster JR, Marangoni M, Carpi FM, Pucciarelli S, Rossi F, Meng W, Sagasti A, Ribchester RR, Magni G, Coleman MP, Conforti L

NAD metabolism regulates diverse biological processes, including ageing, circadian rhythm and axon survival. Axons depend on the activity of the central enzyme in NAD biosynthesis, nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase 2 (NMNAT2), for their maintenance and degenerate rapidly when this activity is lost. However, whether axon survival is regulated by the supply of NAD or by another action of this enzyme remains unclear. Here we show that the nucleotide precursor of NAD, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), accumulates after nerve injury and promotes axon degeneration. Inhibitors of NMN-synthesising enzyme NAMPT confer robust morphological and functional protection of injured axons and synapses despite lowering NAD. Exogenous NMN abolishes this protection, suggesting that NMN accumulation within axons after NMNAT2 degradation could promote degeneration. Ectopic expression of NMN deamidase, a bacterial NMN-scavenging enzyme, prolongs survival of injured axons, providing genetic evidence to support such a mechanism. NMN rises prior to degeneration and both the NAMPT inhibitor FK866 and the axon protective protein Wld(S) prevent this rise. These data indicate that the mechanism by which NMNAT and the related Wld(S) protein promote axon survival is by limiting NMN accumulation. They indicate a novel physiological function for NMN in mammals and reveal an unexpected link between new strategies for cancer chemotherapy and the treatment of axonopathies.Cell Death and Differentiation advance online publication, 17 October 2014; doi:10.1038/cdd.2014.164.

+ View Abstract

Cell death and differentiation, , 1476-5403, , 2014

PMID: 25323584

Open Access

Identification of palmitoyltransferase and thioesterase enzymes that control the subcellular localization of axon survival factor nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase 2 (NMNAT2).
Milde S, Coleman MP

The NAD-synthesizing enzyme nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase 2 (NMNAT2) is a critical survival factor for axons and its constant supply from neuronal cell bodies into axons is required for axon survival in primary culture neurites and axon extension in vivo. Recently, we showed that palmitoylation is necessary to target NMNAT2 to post-Golgi vesicles, thereby influencing its protein turnover and axon protective capacity. Here we find that NMNAT2 is a substrate for cytosolic thioesterases APT1 and APT2 and that palmitoylation/depalmitoylation dynamics are on a time scale similar to its short half-life. Interestingly, however, depalmitoylation does not release NMNAT2 from membranes. The mechanism of palmitoylation-independent membrane attachment appears to be mediated by the same minimal domain required for palmitoylation itself. Furthermore, we identify several zDHHC palmitoyltransferases that influence NMNAT2 palmitoylation and subcellular localization, among which a role for zDHHC17 (HIP14) in neuronal NMNAT2 palmitoylation is best supported by our data. These findings shed light on the enzymatic regulation of NMNAT2 palmitoylation and highlight individual thioesterases and palmitoyltransferases as potential targets to modulate NMNAT2-dependent axon survival.

+ View Abstract

The Journal of biological chemistry, 289, 1083-351X, 32858-70, 2014

PMID: 25271157

Open Access

Age-related axonal swellings precede other neuropathological hallmarks in a knock-in mouse model of Huntington's disease.
Marangoni M, Adalbert R, Janeckova L, Patrick J, Kohli J, Coleman MP, Conforti L

Axon degeneration precedes cell body death in many age-related neurodegenerative disorders, often determining symptom onset and progression. A sensitive method for revealing axon pathology could indicate whether this is the case also in Huntington's disease (HD), a fatal, devastating neurodegenerative disorder causing progressive deterioration of both physical and mental abilities, and which brain region is affected first. We studied the spatio-temporal relationship between axon pathology, neuronal loss, and mutant Huntingtin aggregate formation in HD mouse models by crossing R6/2 transgenic and HdhQ140 knock-in mice with YFP-H mice expressing the yellow fluorescent protein in a subset of neurons. We found large axonal swellings developing age-dependently first in stria terminalis and then in corticostriatal axons of HdhQ140 mice, whereas alterations of other neuronal compartments could not be detected. Although mutant Huntingtin accumulated with age in several brain areas, inclusions in the soma did not correlate with swelling of the corresponding axons. Axon abnormalities were not a prominent feature of the rapid progressive pathology of R6/2 mice. Our findings in mice genetically similar to HD patients suggest that axon pathology is an early event in HD and indicate the importance of further studies of stria terminalis axons in man.

+ View Abstract

Neurobiology of aging, 35, 1558-1497, 2382-93, 2014

PMID: 24906892

Open Access

Wallerian degeneration: an emerging axon death pathway linking injury and disease.
Conforti L, Gilley J, Coleman MP

Axon degeneration is a prominent early feature of most neurodegenerative disorders and can also be induced directly by nerve injury in a process known as Wallerian degeneration. The discovery of genetic mutations that delay Wallerian degeneration has provided insight into mechanisms underlying axon degeneration in disease. Rapid Wallerian degeneration requires the pro-degenerative molecules SARM1 and PHR1. Nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase 2 (NMNAT2) is essential for axon growth and survival. Its loss from injured axons may activate Wallerian degeneration, whereas NMNAT overexpression rescues axons from degeneration. Here, we discuss the roles of these and other proposed regulators of Wallerian degeneration, new opportunities for understanding disease mechanisms and intriguing links between Wallerian degeneration, innate immunity, synaptic growth and cell death.

+ View Abstract

Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 15, 1471-0048, 394-409, 2014

PMID: 24840802

Open Access

Axonal trafficking of NMNAT2 and its roles in axon growth and survival in vivo.
Milde S, Gilley J, Coleman MP

The NAD-synthesizing enzyme NMNAT2 is critical for axon survival in primary culture and its depletion may contribute to axon degeneration in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders. Here we discuss several recent reports from our laboratory that establish a critical role for NMNAT2 in axon growth in vivo in mice and shed light on the delivery and turnover of this survival factor in axons. In the absence of NMNAT2, axons fail to extend more than a short distance beyond the cell body during embryonic development, implying a requirement for NMNAT2 in axon maintenance even during development. Furthermore, we highlight findings regarding the bidirectional trafficking of NMNAT2 in axons on a vesicle population that undergoes fast axonal transport in primary culture neurites and in mouse sciatic nerve axons in vivo. Surprisingly, loss of vesicle association boosts the axon protective capacity of NMNAT2, an effect that is at least partially mediated by a longer protein half-life of cytosolic NMNAT2 variants. Analysis of wild-type and variant NMNAT2 in mouse sciatic nerves and Drosophila olfactory receptor neuron axons supports the existence of a similar mechanism in vivo, highlighting the potential for regulation of NMNAT2 stability and turnover as a mechanism to modulate axon degeneration in vivo.

+ View Abstract

Bioarchitecture, 3, 1949-100X, 133-40, 0

PMID: 24284888

Open Access

MEK Inhibitor U0126 Reverses Protection of Axons from Wallerian Degeneration Independently of MEK-ERK Signaling.
C Evans, SJ Cook, MP Coleman, J Gilley

Wallerian degeneration is delayed when sufficient levels of proteins with NMNAT activity are maintained within axons after injury. This has been proposed to form the basis of 'slow Wallerian degeneration' (Wld (S)), a neuroprotective phenotype conferred by an aberrant fusion protein, Wld(S). Proteasome inhibition also delays Wallerian degeneration, although much less robustly, with stabilization of NMNAT2 likely to play a key role in this mechanism. The pan-MEK inhibitor U0126 has previously been shown to reverse the axon-protective effects of proteasome inhibition, suggesting that MEK-ERK signaling plays a role in delayed Wallerian degeneration, in addition to its established role in promoting neuronal survival. Here we show that whilst U0126 can also reverse Wld(S)-mediated axon protection, more specific inhibitors of MEK1/2 and MEK5, PD184352 and BIX02189, have no significant effect on the delay to Wallerian degeneration in either situation, whether used alone or in combination. This suggests that an off-target effect of U0126 is responsible for reversion of the axon protective effects of Wld(S) expression or proteasome inhibition, rather than inhibition of MEK1/2-ERK1/2 or MEK5-ERK5 signaling. Importantly, this off-target effect does not appear to result in alterations in the stabilities of either Wld(S) or NMNAT2.

+ View Abstract

PloS one, 8, 10, e76505, 2013

PMID: 24124570
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076505

Open Access

Deletions within its subcellular targeting domain enhance the axon protective capacity of Nmnat2 in vivo.
S Milde, AN Fox, MR Freeman, MP Coleman

The NAD-synthesising enzyme Nmnat2 is a critical survival factor for axons in vitro and in vivo. We recently reported that loss of axonal transport vesicle association through mutations in its isoform-specific targeting and interaction domain (ISTID) reduces Nmnat2 ubiquitination, prolongs its half-life and boosts its axon protective capacity in primary culture neurons. Here, we report evidence for a role of ISTID sequences in tuning Nmnat2 localisation, stability and protective capacity in vivo. Deletion of central ISTID sequences abolishes vesicle association and increases protein stability of fluorescently tagged, transgenic Nmnat2 in mouse peripheral axons in vivo. Overexpression of fluorescently tagged Nmnat2 significantly delays Wallerian degeneration in these mice. Furthermore, while mammalian Nmnat2 is unable to protect transected Drosophila olfactory receptor neuron axons in vivo, mutant Nmnat2s lacking ISTID regions substantially delay Wallerian degeneration. Together, our results establish Nmnat2 localisation and turnover as a valuable target for modulating axon degeneration in vivo.

+ View Abstract

Scientific reports, 3, , 2567, 2013

PMID: 23995269
DOI: 10.1038/srep02567

Open Access

Rescue of Peripheral and CNS Axon Defects in Mice Lacking NMNAT2.
J Gilley, R Adalbert, G Yu, MP Coleman

NMNAT2 is an NAD(+)-synthesizing enzyme with an essential axon maintenance role in primary culture neurons. We have generated an Nmnat2 gene trap mouse to examine the role of NMNAT2 in vivo. Homozygotes die perinatally with a severe peripheral nerve/axon defect and truncated axons in the optic nerve and other CNS regions. The cause appears to be limited axon extension, rather than dying-back degeneration of existing axons, which was previously proposed for the NMNAT2-deficient Blad mutant mouse. Neurite outgrowth in both PNS and CNS neuronal cultures consistently stalls at 1-2 mm, similar to the length of truncated axons in the embryos. Crucially, this suggests an essential role for NMNAT2 during axon growth. In addition, we show that the Wallerian degeneration slow protein (Wld(S)), a more stable, aberrant NMNAT that can substitute the axon maintenance function of NMNAT2 in primary cultures, can also correct developmental defects associated with NMNAT2 deficiency. This is dose-dependent, with extension of life span to at least 3 months by homozygous levels of Wld(S) the most obvious manifestation. Finally, we propose that endogenous mechanisms also compensate for otherwise limiting levels of NMNAT2. This could explain our finding that conditional silencing of a single Nmnat2 allele triggers substantial degeneration of established neurites, whereas similar, or greater, reduction of NMNAT2 in constitutively depleted neurons is compatible with normal axon growth and survival. A requirement for NMNAT2 for both axon growth and maintenance suggests that reduced levels could impair axon regeneration as well as axon survival in aging and disease.

+ View Abstract

The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33, 33, 13410-24, 2013

PMID: 23946398
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1534-13.2013

Open Access

The challenges of axon survival: introduction to the special issue on axonal degeneration.
MP Coleman

Early axon loss is a common feature of many neurodegenerative disorders. It renders neurons functionally inactive, or less active if axon branches are lost, in a manner that is often irreversible. In the CNS, there is no long-range axon regeneration and even peripheral nerve axons are unlikely to reinnervate their targets while the cause of the problem persists. In most disorders, axon degeneration precedes cell death so it is not simply a consequence of it, and it is now clear that axons have at least one degeneration mechanism that differs from that of the soma. It is important to understand these degeneration mechanisms and their contribution to axon loss in neurodegenerative disorders. In this way, it should become possible to prevent axon loss as well as cell death. This special edition considers the roles and mechanisms of axon degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, hereditary spastic paraplegia, ischemic injury, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, glaucoma, Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. Using examples from these and other disorders, this introduction considers some of the reasons for axon vulnerability. It also illustrates how molecular genetics and studies of Wallerian degeneration have contributed to our understanding of axon degeneration mechanisms.

+ View Abstract

Experimental neurology, 246, , 1-5, 2013

PMID: 23769907
DOI: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2013.06.007

Open Access

Autophagy in axonal and dendritic degeneration.
Y Yang, M Coleman, L Zhang, X Zheng, Z Yue

Degeneration of axons and dendrites is a common and early pathological feature of many neurodegenerative disorders, and is thought to be regulated by mechanisms distinct from those determining death of the cell body. The unique structures of axons and dendrites (collectively neurites) may cause them to be particularly vulnerable to the accumulation of protein aggregates and damaged organelles. Autophagy is a catabolic mechanism in which cells clear protein aggregates and damaged organelles. Basal autophagy occurs continuously as a housekeeping function, and can be acutely expanded in response to stress or injury. Emerging evidence shows that insufficient or excessive autophagy contributes to neuritic degeneration. Here, we review the recent progress that has begun to reveal the role of autophagy in neurite function and degeneration.

+ View Abstract

Trends in neurosciences, 36, 7, 418-28, 2013

PMID: 23639383
DOI: 10.1016/j.tins.2013.04.001

Open Access

Subcellular localization determines the stability and axon protective capacity of axon survival factor Nmnat2.
S Milde, J Gilley, MP Coleman

Axons require a constant supply of the labile axon survival factor Nmnat2 from their cell bodies to avoid spontaneous axon degeneration. Here we investigate the mechanism of fast axonal transport of Nmnat2 and its site of action for axon maintenance. Using dual-colour live-cell imaging of axonal transport in SCG primary culture neurons, we find that Nmnat2 is bidirectionally trafficked in axons together with markers of the trans-Golgi network and synaptic vesicles. In contrast, there is little co-migration with mitochondria, lysosomes, and active zone precursor vesicles. Residues encoded by the small, centrally located exon 6 are necessary and sufficient for stable membrane association and vesicular axonal transport of Nmnat2. Within this sequence, a double cysteine palmitoylation motif shared with GAP43 and surrounding basic residues are all required for efficient palmitoylation and stable association with axonal transport vesicles. Interestingly, however, disrupting this membrane association increases the ability of axonally localized Nmnat2 to preserve transected neurites in primary culture, while re-targeting the strongly protective cytosolic mutants back to membranes abolishes this increase. Larger deletions within the central domain including exon 6 further enhance Nmnat2 axon protective capacity to levels that exceed that of the slow Wallerian degeneration protein, Wld(S). The mechanism underlying the increase in axon protection appears to involve an increased half-life of the cytosolic forms, suggesting a role for palmitoylation and membrane attachment in Nmnat2 turnover. We conclude that Nmnat2 activity supports axon survival through a site of action distinct from Nmnat2 transport vesicles and that protein stability, a key determinant of axon protection, is enhanced by mutations that disrupt palmitoylation and dissociate Nmnat2 from these vesicles.

+ View Abstract

PLoS biology, 11, 4, e1001539, 2013

PMID: 23610559
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001539

Open Access

Simultaneous single-sample determination of NMNAT isozyme activities in mouse tissues.
G Orsomando, L Cialabrini, A Amici, F Mazzola, S Rugieri, L Conforti, L Janeckova, MP Coleman, G Magni

A novel assay procedure has been developed to allow simultaneous activity discrimination in crude tissue extracts of the three known mammalian nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase (NMNAT, EC 2.7.7.1) isozymes. These enzymes catalyse the same key reaction for NAD biosynthesis in different cellular compartments. The present method has been optimized for NMNAT isozymes derived from Mus musculus, a species often used as a model for NAD-biosynthesis-related physiology and disorders, such as peripheral neuropathies. Suitable assay conditions were initially assessed by exploiting the metal-ion dependence of each isozyme recombinantly expressed in bacteria, and further tested after mixing them in vitro. The variable contributions of the three individual isozymes to total NAD synthesis in the complex mixture was calculated by measuring reaction rates under three selected assay conditions, generating three linear simultaneous equations that can be solved by a substitution matrix calculation. Final assay validation was achieved in a tissue extract by comparing the activity and expression levels of individual isozymes, considering their distinctive catalytic efficiencies. Furthermore, considering the key role played by NMNAT activity in preserving axon integrity and physiological function, this assay procedure was applied to both liver and brain extracts from wild-type and Wallerian degeneration slow (Wld(S)) mouse. Wld(S) is a spontaneous mutation causing overexpression of NMNAT1 as a fusion protein, which protects injured axons through a gain-of-function. The results validate our method as a reliable determination of the contributions of the three isozymes to cellular NAD synthesis in different organelles and tissues, and in mutant animals such as Wld(S).

+ View Abstract

PloS one, 7, 12, e53271, 2012

PMID: 23300904
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053271

Open Access

Axon pathology in age-related neurodegenerative disorders.
R Adalbert, MP Coleman

'Dying back' axon degeneration is a prominent feature of many age-related neurodegenerative disorders and is widespread in normal ageing. Although the mechanisms of disease- and age-related losses may differ, both contribute to symptoms. Here, we review recent advances in understanding axon pathology in age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and glaucoma. In particular, we highlight the importance of axonal transport, autophagy, traumatic brain injury, and mitochondrial quality control. We then place these disease mechanisms in the context of changes to axons and dendrites that occur during normal ageing. We discuss what makes ageing such an important risk factor for many neurodegenerative disorders and conclude that the processes of normal ageing and disease combine at the molecular, cellular or systems levels in a range of disorders to produce symptoms. Pathology identical to disease also occurs at the cellular level in most elderly individuals. Thus, normal ageing and age-related disease are inextricably linked and the term 'healthy ageing' downplays the important contributions of cellular pathology. For a full understanding of normal ageing or age-related disease we must study both processes.

+ View Abstract

Neuropathology and applied neurobiology, , , , 2012

PMID: 23046254
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2990.2012.01308.x

Intra-axonal calcium changes after axotomy in wild-type and slow Wallerian degeneration axons.
R Adalbert, G Morreale, M Paizs, L Conforti, SA Walker, HL Roderick, MD Bootman, L Siklós, MP Coleman

Calcium accumulation induces the breakdown of cytoskeleton and axonal fragmentation in the late stages of Wallerian degeneration. In the early stages there is no evidence for any long-lasting, extensive increase in intra-axonal calcium but there does appear to be some redistribution. We hypothesized that changes in calcium distribution could have an early regulatory role in axonal degeneration in addition to the late executionary role of calcium. Schmidt-Lanterman clefts (SLCs), which allow exchange of metabolites and ions between the periaxonal and extracellular space, are likely to have an increased role when axon segments are separated from the cell body, so we used the oxalate-pyroantimonate method to study calcium at SLCs in distal stumps of transected wild-type and slow Wallerian degeneration (Wld(S)) mutant sciatic nerves, in which Wallerian degeneration is greatly delayed. In wild-type nerves most SLCs show a step gradient of calcium distribution, which is lost at around 20% of SLCs within 3mm of the lesion site by 4-24h after nerve transection. To investigate further the association with Wallerian degeneration, we studied nerves from Wld(S) rats. The step gradient of calcium distribution in Wld(S) is absent in around 20% of the intact nerves beneath SLCs but 4-24h following injury, calcium distribution in transected axons remained similar to that in uninjured nerves. We then used calcium indicators to study influx and buffering of calcium in injured neurites in primary culture. Calcium penetration and the early calcium increase in this system were indistinguishable between Wld(S) and wild-type axons. However, a significant difference was observed during the following hours, when calcium increased in wild-type neurites but not in Wld(S) neurites. We conclude that there is little relationship between calcium distribution and the early stages of Wallerian degeneration at the time points studied in vivo or in vitro but that Wld(S) neurites fail to show a later calcium rise that could be a cause or consequence of the later stages of Wallerian degeneration.

+ View Abstract

Neuroscience, 225, , 44-54, 2012

PMID: 22960623
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.08.056

Open Access

dSarm/Sarm1 is required for activation of an injury-induced axon death pathway.
JM Osterloh, J Yang, TM Rooney, AN Fox, R Adalbert, EH Powell, AE Sheehan, MA Avery, R Hackett, MA Logan, JM MacDonald, JS Ziegenfuss, S Milde, YJ Hou, C Nathan, A Ding, RH Brown, L Conforti, M Coleman, M Tessier-Lavigne, S Züchner, MR Freeman

Axonal and synaptic degeneration is a hallmark of peripheral neuropathy, brain injury, and neurodegenerative disease. Axonal degeneration has been proposed to be mediated by an active autodestruction program, akin to apoptotic cell death; however, loss-of-function mutations capable of potently blocking axon self-destruction have not been described. Here, we show that loss of the Drosophila Toll receptor adaptor dSarm (sterile α/Armadillo/Toll-Interleukin receptor homology domain protein) cell-autonomously suppresses Wallerian degeneration for weeks after axotomy. Severed mouse Sarm1 null axons exhibit remarkable long-term survival both in vivo and in vitro, indicating that Sarm1 prodegenerative signaling is conserved in mammals. Our results provide direct evidence that axons actively promote their own destruction after injury and identify dSarm/Sarm1 as a member of an ancient axon death signaling pathway.

+ View Abstract

Science (New York, N.Y.), 337, 6093, 481-4, 2012

PMID: 22678360
DOI: 10.1126/science.1223899

Open Access