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Tsuji T.,Kanazawa University | Higashida C.,Kanazawa University | Higashida C.,Japan Science and Technology Agency | Aoki Y.,Kanazawa Institute of Technology | And 5 more authors.
Neurochemistry International | Year: 2012

In collaboration with Marshall Nirenberg, we performed in vivo RNA interference (RNAi) genome-wide screening in Drosophila embryos. Pebble has been shown to be involved in Drosophila neuronal development. We have also reported that depletion of Ect2, a mammalian ortholog of Pebble, induces differentiation in NG108-15 neuronal cells. However, the precise role of Ect2 in neuronal development has yet to be studied. Here, we confirmed in PC12 pheochromocytoma cells that inhibition of Ect2 expression by RNAi stimulated neurite outgrowth, and in the mouse embryonic cortex that Ect2 was accumulated throughout the ventricular and subventricular zones with neuronal progenitor cells. Next, the effects of Ect2 depletion were studied in primary cultures of mouse embryonic cortical neurons: Loss of Ect2 did not affect the differentiation stages of neuritogenesis, the number of neurites, or axon length, while the numbers of growth cones and growth cone-like structures were increased. Taken together, our results suggest that Ect2 contributes to neuronal morphological differentiation through regulation of growth cone dynamics. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Higashida H.,Kanazawa University | Higashida H.,Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology CRESTO | Higashida H.,MEXT Strategic Research Program for Brain Science SRPBS | Yokoyama S.,Kanazawa University | And 20 more authors.
Neurochemistry International | Year: 2012

Previously, we demonstrated that CD38, a transmembrane protein with ADP-ribosyl cyclase activity, plays a critical role in mouse social behavior by regulating the release of oxytocin (OXT), which is essential for mutual recognition. When CD38 was disrupted, social amnesia was observed in Cd38 knockout mice. The autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), characterized by defects in reciprocal social interaction and communication, occur either sporadically or in a familial pattern. However, the etiology of ASDs remains largely unknown. Therefore, the theoretical basis for pharmacological treatments has not been established. Hence, there is a rationale for investigating single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the human CD38 gene in ASD subjects. We found several SNPs in this gene. The SNP rs3796863 (C > A) was associated with high-functioning autism (HFA) in American samples from the Autism Gene Resource Exchange. Although this finding was partially confirmed in low-functioning autism subjects in Israel, it has not been replicated in Japanese HFA subjects. The second SNP of interest, rs1800561 (4693C > T), leads to the substitution of an arginine (R) at codon 140 by tryptophan (W; R140W) in CD38. This mutation was found in four probands of ASD and in family members of three pedigrees with variable levels of ASD or ASD traits. The plasma levels of OXT in ASD subjects with the R140W allele were lower than those in ASD subjects lacking this allele. The OXT levels were unchanged in healthy subjects with or without this mutation. One proband with the R140W allele receiving intranasal OXT for approximately 3 years showed improvement in areas of social approach, eye contact and communication behaviors, emotion, irritability, and aggression. Five other ASD subjects with mental deficits received nasal OXT for various periods; three subjects showed improved symptoms, while two showed little or no effect. These results suggest that SNPs in CD38 may be possible risk factors for ASD by abrogating OXT function and that some ASD subjects can be treated with OXT in preliminary clinical trials. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Ma W.-J.,Kanazawa University | Hashii M.,Kanazawa University | Munesue T.,Kanazawa University | Hayashi K.,Kanazawa University | And 8 more authors.
Molecular Autism | Year: 2013

Background: The human oxytocin receptor (hOXTR) is implicated in the etiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and is a potential target for therapeutic intervention. Several studies have reported single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the OXTR gene associated with ASDs. These SNPs, however, reside outside the protein-coding region. Not much is known about genetic variations that cause amino acid substitutions that alter receptor functions. Methods. Variations in the OXTR gene were analyzed in 132 ASD patients at Kanazawa University Hospital in Japan and 248 unrelated healthy Japanese volunteers by re-sequencing and real-time polymerase chain reaction-based genotyping. Functional changes in variant OXTRs were assessed by radioligand binding assay and measurements of intracellular free calcium concentrations ([Ca§ssup§2+§esup§]§ssub§i§esub§) and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP§ssub§3§esub§) levels. Results: Six subjects (4.5%) in the ASD group and two in the control group (0.8%) were identified as heterozygotes carrying the R376G variation (rs35062132; c.1126C>G); one individual from the ASD group (0.8%) and three members of the control group (1.2%) were found to be carrying R376C (c.1126C>T). The C/G genotype significantly correlated with an increased risk of ASDs (odds ratio (OR) = 5.83; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.16 to 29.33; P = 0.024, Fisher's exact test). Consistently, the G allele showed a correlation with an increased likelihood of ASDs (OR = 5.73; 95% CI = 1.15 to 28.61; P = 0.024, Fisher's exact test). The frequencies of the C/T genotype and the T allele in the ASD and control groups did not differ significantly. We also examined changes in agonist-induced cellular responses mediated by the variant receptors hOXTR-376G and hOXTR-376C. OXT-induced receptor internalization and recycling were faster in hOXTR-376G-expressing HEK-293 cells than in cells expressing hOXTR-376R or hOXTR-376C. In addition, the elevation in [Ca§ssup§2+§esup§]§ssub§i§esub§ and IP§ssub§3§esub§ formation decreased in the cells expressing hOXTR-376G and hOXTR-376C tagged with enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), in comparison with the cells expressing the common-type hOXTR-376R tagged with EGFP. Conclusions: These results suggest that the rare genetic variation rs35062132 might contribute to the pathogenesis of ASDs, and could provide a molecular basis of individual differences in OXTR-mediated modulation of social behavior. © 2013 Ma et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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