Female rat transcriptome response to infraorbital nerve transection differs from that of males: RNA-seq
The effects of infraorbital nerve (ION) transection on gene expression in the adult female rat barrel cortex were investigated using RNA sequencing. After a 24-hour survival duration, 28 genes were differentially regulated by ION transection. Differentially expressed genes suggest microglial activity, increased retrograde ciliary transport, and a decrease in inhibition. These changes may be functionally comparable to changes in the male barrel cortex, where changes in genes related to morphology, neuronal activity, and neuronal excitability were observed. However, the patterns in changes in gene expression are vastly different between male and female rats. The results strongly caution against the practice of generalizing data from one sex to both sexes. This cautionary note has potentially profound implications for a range of research lines, including substance abuse and stress, both research domains in which subjects have been predominantly males. Future research needs to employ sex as a classification variable, as sex differences can generally be expected. Future research is also needed to confirm that changes in gene expression observed with RNA-seq correlate with changes in protein expression. J. Comp. Neurol. 525:140-150, 2017. Â© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Identification of B6SJL mSOD1(G93A) mouse subgroups with different disease progression rates
Disease progression rates among patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) vary greatly. Although the majority of affected individuals survive 3-5 years following diagnosis, some subgroups experience a more rapidly progressing form, surviving less than 1 year, and other subgroups experience slowly progressing forms, surviving nearly 50 years. Genetic heterogeneity and environmental factors pose significant barriers in investigating patient progression rates. Similar to the case for humans, variation in survival within the mSOD1 mouse has been well documented, but different progression rates have not been investigated. The present study identifies two subgroups of B6SJL mSOD1(G93A) mice with different disease progression rates, a fast progression group (FPG) and slow progression group, as evidenced by differences in the rate of motor function decline. In addition, increased disease-associated gene expression within the FPG facial motor nucleus confirmed the presence of a more severe phenotype. We hypothesize that a more severe disease phenotype could be the result of 1) an earlier onset of axonal disconnection with a consistent degeneration rate or 2) a more severe or accelerated degenerative process. We performed a facial nerve transection axotomy in both mSOD1 subgroups prior to disease onset as a method to standardize the axonal disconnection. Instead of leading to comparable gene expression in both subgroups, this standardization did not eliminate the severe phenotype in the FPG facial nucleus, suggesting that the FPG phenotype is the result of a more severe or accelerated degenerative process. We theorize that these mSOD1 subgroups are representative of the rapid and slow disease phenotypes often experienced in ALS.
Facial nerve axotomy in mice: a model to study motoneuron response to injury
The goal of this surgical protocol is to expose the facial nerve, which innervates the facial musculature, at its exit from the stylomastoid foramen and either cut or crush it to induce peripheral nerve injury. Advantages of this surgery are its simplicity, high reproducibility, and the lack of effect on vital functions or mobility from the subsequent facial paralysis, thus resulting in a relatively mild surgical outcome compared to other nerve injury models. A major advantage of using a cranial nerve injury model is that the motoneurons reside in a relatively homogenous population in the facial motor nucleus in the pons, simplifying the study of the motoneuron cell bodies. Because of the symmetrical nature of facial nerve innervation and the lack of crosstalk between the facial motor nuclei, the operation can be performed unilaterally with the unaxotomized side serving as a paired internal control. A variety of analyses can be performed postoperatively to assess the physiologic response, details of which are beyond the scope of this article. For example, recovery of muscle function can serve as a behavioral marker for reinnervation, or the motoneurons can be quantified to measure cell survival. Additionally, the motoneurons can be accurately captured using laser microdissection for molecular analysis. Because the facial nerve axotomy is minimally invasive and well tolerated, it can be utilized on a wide variety of genetically modified mice. Also, this surgery model can be used to analyze the effectiveness of peripheral nerve injury treatments. Facial nerve injury provides a means for investigating not only motoneurons, but also the responses of the central and peripheral glial microenvironment, immune system, and target musculature. The facial nerve injury model is a widely accepted peripheral nerve injury model that serves as a powerful tool for studying nerve injury and regeneration.
The need for speed in rodent locomotion analyses
Locomotion analysis is now widely used across many animal species to understand the motor defects in disease, functional recovery following neural injury, and the effectiveness of various treatments. More recently, rodent locomotion analysis has become an increasingly popular method in a diverse range of research. Speed is an inseparable aspect of locomotion that is still not fully understood, and its effects are often not properly incorporated while analyzing data. In this hybrid manuscript, we accomplish three things: (1) review the interaction between speed and locomotion variables in rodent studies, (2) comprehensively analyze the relationship between speed and 162 locomotion variables in a group of 16 wild-type mice using the CatWalk gait analysis system, and (3) develop and test a statistical method in which locomotion variables are analyzed and reported in the context of speed. Notable results include the following: (1) over 90% of variables, reported by CatWalk, were dependent on speed with an average R(2) value of 0.624, (2) most variables were related to speed in a nonlinear manner, (3) current methods of controlling for speed are insufficient, and (4) the linear mixed model is an appropriate and effective statistical method for locomotion analyses that is inclusive of speed-dependent relationships. Given the pervasive dependency of locomotion variables on speed, we maintain that valid conclusions from locomotion analyses cannot be made unless they are analyzed and reported within the context of speed.
SOD1(G93A) transgenic mouse CD4(+) T cells mediate neuroprotection after facial nerve axotomy when removed from a suppressive peripheral microenvironment
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease involving motoneuron (MN) axonal withdrawal and cell death. Previously, we established that facial MN (FMN) survival levels in the SOD1(G93A) transgenic mouse model of ALS are reduced and nerve regeneration is delayed, similar to immunodeficient RAG2(-/-) mice, after facial nerve axotomy. The objective of this study was to examine the functionality of SOD1(G93A) splenic microenvironment, focusing on CD4(+) T cells, with regard to defects in immune-mediated neuroprotection of injured MN. We utilized the RAG2(-/-) and SOD1(G93A) mouse models, along with the facial nerve axotomy paradigm and a variety of cellular adoptive transfers, to assess immune-mediated neuroprotection of FMN survival levels. We determined that adoptively transferred SOD1(G93A) unfractionated splenocytes into RAG2(-/-) mice were unable to support FMN survival after axotomy, but that adoptive transfer of isolated SOD1(G93A) CD4(+) T cells could. Although WT unfractionated splenocytes adoptively transferred into SOD1(G93A) mice were able to maintain FMN survival levels, WT CD4(+) T cells alone could not. Importantly, these results suggest that SOD1(G93A) CD4(+) T cells retain neuroprotective functionality when removed from a dysfunctional SOD1(G93A) peripheral splenic microenvironment. These results also indicate that the SOD1(G93A) central nervous system microenvironment is able to re-activate CD4(+) T cells for immune-mediated neuroprotection when a permissive peripheral microenvironment exists. We hypothesize that a suppressive SOD1(G93A) peripheral splenic microenvironment may compromise neuroprotective CD4(+) T cell activation and/or differentiation, which, in turn, results in impaired immune-mediated neuroprotection for MN survival after peripheral axotomy in SOD1(G93A) mice.
Axotomy-induced target disconnection promotes an additional death mechanism involved in motoneuron degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis transgenic mice
The target disconnection theory of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) pathogenesis suggests that disease onset is initiated by a peripheral pathological event resulting in neuromuscular junction loss and motoneuron (MN) degeneration. Presymptomatic mSOD1(G93A) mouse facial MN (FMN) are more susceptible to axotomy-induced cell death than wild-type (WT) FMN, which suggests additional CNS pathology. We have previously determined that the mSOD1 molecular response to facial nerve axotomy is phenotypically regenerative and indistinguishable from WT, whereas the surrounding microenvironment shows significant dysregulation in the mSOD1 facial nucleus. To elucidate the mechanisms underlying the enhanced mSOD1 FMN loss after axotomy, we superimposed the facial nerve axotomy model on presymptomatic mSOD1 mice and investigated gene expression for death receptor pathways after target disconnection by axotomy vs. disease progression. We determined that the TNFR1 death receptor pathway is involved in axotomy-induced FMN death in WT and is partially responsible for the mSOD1 FMN death. In contrast, an inherent mSOD1 CNS pathology resulted in a suppressed glial reaction and an upregulation in the Fas death pathway after target disconnection. We propose that the dysregulated mSOD1 glia fail to provide support the injured MN, leading to Fas-induced FMN death. Finally, we demonstrate that, during disease progression, the mSOD1 facial nucleus displays target disconnection-induced gene expression changes that mirror those induced by axotomy. This validates the use of axotomy as an investigative tool in understanding the role of peripheral target disconnection in the pathogenesis of ALS.