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PubMed | Vrije Universtiteit Amsterdam and an Institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Gene therapy | Year: 2014

Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors based on serotype 5 are an efficient means to target dorsal root ganglia (DRG) to study gene function in the primary sensory neurons of the peripheral nervous system. In this study, we have developed a compact AAV dual promoter vector composed of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) and chicken beta-actin (CAG) promoters in a back-to-back configuration with a shared enhancer, and show efficient expression of two proteins simultaneously in DRG neurons. We demonstrate how this is useful for experiments on axonal regeneration, by co-expressing a gene of interest and an axonal marker. Using a farnesylated form of eGFP, which is actively transported along axons, we show superior long-distance labelling of axons of DRG neurons compared with normal eGFP. Additionally, we have efficiently transduced lumbar DRG neurons by injecting the AAV dual promoter vector into the dorsal intrathecal space, which is a less invasive delivery method. In summary, we have developed an AAV dual promoter vector designed for simultaneous expression of a gene of interest and a fluorescent protein to label long-distance axonal projections, which allows specific quantification of axons from transduced neurons after injury.


Eggers R.,an institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science | de Winter F.,an institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science | de Winter F.,Leiden University | Hoyng S.A.,an institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science | And 9 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Although the peripheral nerve is capable of regeneration, only a small minority of patients regain normal function after surgical reconstruction of a major peripheral nerve lesion, resulting in a severe and lasting negative impact on the quality of life. Glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) has potent survival- and outgrowth-promoting effects on motoneurons, but locally elevated levels of GDNF cause trapping of regenerating axons and the formation of nerve coils. This phenomenon has been called the "candy store" effect. In this study we created gradients of GDNF in the sciatic nerve after a ventral root avulsion. This approach also allowed us to study the effect of increasing concentrations of GDNF on Schwann cell proliferation and morphology in the injured peripheral nerve. We demonstrate that lentiviral vectors can be used to create a 4 cm long GDNF gradient in the intact and lesioned rat sciatic nerve. Nerve coils were formed throughout the gradient and the number and size of the nerve coils increased with increasing GDNF levels in the nerve. In the nerve coils, Schwann cell density is increased, their morphology is disrupted and myelination of axons is severely impaired. The total number of regenerated and surviving motoneurons is not enhanced after the distal application of a GDNF gradient, but increased sprouting does result in higher number of motor axon in the distal segment of the sciatic nerve. These results show that lentiviral vector mediated overexpression of GDNF exerts multiple effects on both Schwann cells and axons and that nerve coil formation already occurs at relatively low concentrations of exogenous GDNF. Controlled expression of GDNF, by using a viral vector with regulatable GDNF expression, may be required to avoid motor axon trapping and to prevent the effects on Schwann cell proliferation and myelination. © 2013 Eggers et al.


Kasper C.D.R.,An Institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science | Kasper C.D.R.,Harvard University | Kerstin T.S.W.,An Institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science | Elske H.P.F.,An Institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

In their natural habitat, the peripheral nerve, Schwann cells (SCs) form nicely aligned pathways (also known as the bands of Bü ngner) that guide regenerating axons to their targets. Schwann cells that are implanted in the lesioned spinal cord fail to align in pathways that could support axon growth but form cellular clusters that exhibit only limited intermingling with the astrocytes and meningeal cells (MCs) that are present in the neural scar. The formation of cell clusters can be studied in cocultures of SCs and MCs. In these co-cultures SCs form cluster-like non-overlapping cell aggregates with well-defined boundaries. There are several indications that neuropilins (NRPs) play an important role in MC-induced SC aggregation. Both SCs and MCs express NRP1 and NRP2 and SCs express the NRP ligands Sema3B, C and E while MCs express Sema3A, C, E and F. We now demonstrate that in SC-MC co-cultures, siRNA mediated knockdown of NRP2 in SCs decreased the formation of SC clusters while these SCs maintained their capacity to align in bands of Büngner-like columnar arrays. Unexpectedly, knockdown of NRP1 expression resulted in a significant increase in SC aggregation. These results suggest that a reduction in NRP2 expression may enhance the capacity of implanted SCs to interact with MCs that invade a neural scar formed after a lesion of the spinal cord. ©2014 Roet et al.


Roet K.C.,an Institute of The Royal Academy of Arts and science | Wirz K.T.,an Institute of The Royal Academy of Arts and science | Franssen E.H.,an Institute of The Royal Academy of Arts and science | Verhaagen J.,an Institute of The Royal Academy of Arts and science
PloS one | Year: 2014

In their natural habitat, the peripheral nerve, Schwann cells (SCs) form nicely aligned pathways (also known as the bands of Büngner) that guide regenerating axons to their targets. Schwann cells that are implanted in the lesioned spinal cord fail to align in pathways that could support axon growth but form cellular clusters that exhibit only limited intermingling with the astrocytes and meningeal cells (MCs) that are present in the neural scar. The formation of cell clusters can be studied in co-cultures of SCs and MCs. In these co-cultures SCs form cluster-like non-overlapping cell aggregates with well-defined boundaries. There are several indications that neuropilins (NRPs) play an important role in MC-induced SC aggregation. Both SCs and MCs express NRP1 and NRP2 and SCs express the NRP ligands Sema3B, C and E while MCs express Sema3A, C, E and F. We now demonstrate that in SC-MC co-cultures, siRNA mediated knockdown of NRP2 in SCs decreased the formation of SC clusters while these SCs maintained their capacity to align in bands of Büngner-like columnar arrays. Unexpectedly, knockdown of NRP1 expression resulted in a significant increase in SC aggregation. These results suggest that a reduction in NRP2 expression may enhance the capacity of implanted SCs to interact with MCs that invade a neural scar formed after a lesion of the spinal cord.


Fagoe N.D.,an Institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science | van Heest J.,an Institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science | Verhaagen J.,an Institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science | Verhaagen J.,VU University Amsterdam
NeuroMolecular Medicine | Year: 2014

Spinal cord injury (SCI) affects millions of people worldwide and causes a significant physical, emotional, social and economic burden. The main clinical hallmark of SCI is the permanent loss of motor, sensory and autonomic function below the level of injury. In general, neurons of the central nervous system (CNS) are incapable of regeneration, whereas injury to the peripheral nervous system is followed by axonal regeneration and usually results in some degree of functional recovery. The weak neuron-intrinsic regeneration-associated gene (RAG) response upon injury is an important reason for the failure of neurons in the CNS to regenerate an axon. This response consists of the expression of many RAGs, including regeneration-associated transcription factors (TFs). Regeneration-associated TFs are potential key regulators of the RAG program. The function of some regeneration-associated TFs has been studied in transgenic and knock-out mice and by adeno-associated viral vector-mediated overexpression in injured neurons. Here, we review these studies and propose that AAV-mediated gene delivery of combinations of regeneration-associated TFs is a potential strategy to activate the RAG program in injured CNS neurons and achieve long-distance axon regeneration. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


PubMed | VU University Amsterdam and an Institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Human molecular genetics | Year: 2015

Peripheral nerve injury results in the activation of a number of transcription factors (TFs) in injured neurons, some of which may be key regulators of the regeneration-associated gene (RAG) programme. Among known RAG TFs, ATF3, Smad1, STAT3 and c-Jun have all been linked to successful axonal regeneration and have known functional and physical interactions. We hypothesised that TF expression would promote regeneration of the central axon branch of DRG neurons in the absence of a peripheral nerve lesion and that simultaneous overexpression of multiple RAG TFs would lead to greater effects than delivery of a single TF. Using adeno-associated viral vectors, we overexpressed either the combination of ATF3, Smad1, STAT3 and c-Jun with farnesylated GFP (fGFP), ATF3 only with fGFP, or fGFP only, in DRG neurons and assessed axonal regeneration after dorsal root transection or dorsal column injury and functional improvement after dorsal root injury. ATF3 alone and the combination of TFs promoted faster regeneration in the injured dorsal root. Surprisingly, however, the combination did not perform better than ATF3 alone. Neither treatment was able to induce functional improvement on sensory tests after dorsal root injury or promote regeneration in a dorsal column injury model. The lack of synergistic effects among these factors indicates that while they do increase the speed of axon growth, there may be functional redundancy between these TFs. Because axon growth is considerably less than that seen after a conditioning lesion, it appears these TFs do not induce the full regeneration programme.


PubMed | an institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science
Type: | Journal: BMC neuroscience | Year: 2010

After a spinal cord lesion, axon regeneration is inhibited by the presence of a diversity of inhibitory molecules in the lesion environment. At and around the lesion site myelin-associated inhibitors, chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) and several axon guidance molecules, including all members of the secreted (class 3) Semaphorins, are expressed. Interfering with multiple inhibitory signals could potentially enhance the previously reported beneficial effects of blocking single molecules. RNA interference (RNAi) is a tool that can be used to simultaneously silence expression of multiple genes. In this study we aimed to employ adeno-associated virus (AAV) mediated expression of short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) to target all Semaphorin class 3 signaling by knocking down its receptors, Neuropilin 1 (Npn-1) and Neuropilin 2 (Npn-2).We have successfully generated shRNAs that knock down Npn-1 and Npn-2 in a neuronal cell line. We detected substantial knockdown of Npn-2 mRNA when AAV5 viral vector particles expressing Npn-2 specific shRNAs were injected in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of the rat. Unexpectedly however, AAV1-mediated expression of Npn-2 shRNAs and a control shRNA in the red nucleus resulted in an adverse tissue response and neuronal degeneration. The observed toxicity was dose dependent and was not seen with control GFP expressing AAV vectors, implicating the shRNAs as the causative toxic agents.RNAi is a powerful tool to knock down Semaphorin receptor expression in neuronal cells in vitro and in vivo. However, when shRNAs are expressed at high levels in CNS neurons, they trigger an adverse tissue response leading to neuronal degradation.


PubMed | an Institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Neuromolecular medicine | Year: 2014

Spinal cord injury (SCI) affects millions of people worldwide and causes a significant physical, emotional, social and economic burden. The main clinical hallmark of SCI is the permanent loss of motor, sensory and autonomic function below the level of injury. In general, neurons of the central nervous system (CNS) are incapable of regeneration, whereas injury to the peripheral nervous system is followed by axonal regeneration and usually results in some degree of functional recovery. The weak neuron-intrinsic regeneration-associated gene (RAG) response upon injury is an important reason for the failure of neurons in the CNS to regenerate an axon. This response consists of the expression of many RAGs, including regeneration-associated transcription factors (TFs). Regeneration-associated TFs are potential key regulators of the RAG program. The function of some regeneration-associated TFs has been studied in transgenic and knock-out mice and by adeno-associated viral vector-mediated overexpression in injured neurons. Here, we review these studies and propose that AAV-mediated gene delivery of combinations of regeneration-associated TFs is a potential strategy to activate the RAG program in injured CNS neurons and achieve long-distance axon regeneration.


PubMed | TU Dresden, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Otto Von Guericke University of Magdeburg and An Institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and science
Type: | Journal: NeuroImage | Year: 2015

Simultaneous EEG-fMRI combines two powerful neuroimaging techniques, but the EEG signal suffers from severe artifacts in the MRI environment that are difficult to remove. These are the MR scanning artifact and the blood-pulsation artifact--strategies to remove them are a topic of ongoing research. Additionally large, unsystematic artifacts are produced across the full frequency spectrum by the magnets helium pump (and ventilator) systems which are notoriously hard to remove. As a consequence, experimenters routinely deactivate the helium pump during simultaneous EEG-fMRI acquisitions which potentially risks damaging the MRI system and necessitates more frequent and expensive helium refills. We present a novel correction method addressing both helium pump and ballisto-cardiac (BCG) artifacts, consisting of carbon-wire loops (CWL) as additional sensors to accurately track unpredictable artifacts related to subtle movements in the scanner, and an EEGLAB plugin to perform artifact correction. We compare signal-to-noise metrics of EEG data, corrected with CWL and three conventional correction methods, for helium pump off and on measurements. Because the CWL setup records signals in real-time, it fits requirements of applications where immediate correction is necessary, such as neuro-feedback applications or stimulation time-locked to specific sleep oscillations. The comparison metrics in this paper relate to: (1) the EEG signal itself, (2) the eyes open vs. eyes closed effect, and (3) an assessment of how the artifact corrections impacts the ability to perform meaningful correlations between EEG alpha power and the BOLD signal. Results show that the CWL correction corrects for He pump artifact and also produces EEG data more comparable to EEG obtained outside the magnet than conventional post-processing methods.


PubMed | VU University Amsterdam and an Institute of The Royal Academy of Arts and science
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2014

In their natural habitat, the peripheral nerve, Schwann cells (SCs) form nicely aligned pathways (also known as the bands of Bngner) that guide regenerating axons to their targets. Schwann cells that are implanted in the lesioned spinal cord fail to align in pathways that could support axon growth but form cellular clusters that exhibit only limited intermingling with the astrocytes and meningeal cells (MCs) that are present in the neural scar. The formation of cell clusters can be studied in co-cultures of SCs and MCs. In these co-cultures SCs form cluster-like non-overlapping cell aggregates with well-defined boundaries. There are several indications that neuropilins (NRPs) play an important role in MC-induced SC aggregation. Both SCs and MCs express NRP1 and NRP2 and SCs express the NRP ligands Sema3B, C and E while MCs express Sema3A, C, E and F. We now demonstrate that in SC-MC co-cultures, siRNA mediated knockdown of NRP2 in SCs decreased the formation of SC clusters while these SCs maintained their capacity to align in bands of Bngner-like columnar arrays. Unexpectedly, knockdown of NRP1 expression resulted in a significant increase in SC aggregation. These results suggest that a reduction in NRP2 expression may enhance the capacity of implanted SCs to interact with MCs that invade a neural scar formed after a lesion of the spinal cord.

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