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Giorgini F.,University of Leicester | Huang S.-Y.,Gladstone | Huang S.-Y.,Taube Koret Center for Huntingtons Disease Research | Sathyasaikumar K.V.,University of Maryland Baltimore County | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Biological Chemistry | Year: 2013

Background: Kynurenine 3-monooxygenase (KMO) is hypothesized to play a pivotal role in regulating tryptophan metabolism in health and disease. Results: Mice that were generated lacking KMO have alterations in the levels of several tryptophan metabolites. Conclusion: KMO is a critical regulator of tryptophan metabolism. Significance: KMO knock-out mice will be a useful research tool to dissect the biological and pathophysiological roles of tryptophan metabolism. © 2013 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc. Source

Tsvetkov A.S.,Gladstone | Tsvetkov A.S.,Taube Koret Center for Huntingtons Disease Research | Ando D.M.,University of California at San Francisco | Finkbeiner S.,University of California at San Francisco
Methods in Molecular Biology | Year: 2013

Misfolded proteins have been implicated in most of the major neurodegenerative diseases, and identifying drugs and pathways that protect neurons from the toxicity of misfolded proteins is of paramount importance. We invented a form of automated imaging and analysis called robotic microscopy that is well suited to the study of neurodegeneration. It enables the monitoring of large cohorts of individual neurons over their lifetimes as they undergo neurodegeneration. With automated analysis, multiple endpoints in neurons can be measured, including survival. Statistical approaches, typically reserved for engineering and clinical medicine, can be applied to these data in an unbiased fashion to discover whether factors contribute positively or negatively to neuronal fate and to quantify the importance of their contribution. Ultimately, multivariate dynamic models can be constructed from these data, which can provide a systems-level understanding of the neurodegenerative disease process and guide the rationale for the development of therapies. © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013. Source

Kwan W.,University of California at San Francisco | Kwan W.,Gladstone | Trager U.,Gladstone | Davalos D.,Gladstone | And 19 more authors.
Journal of Clinical Investigation | Year: 2012

In Huntington disease (HD), immune cells are activated before symptoms arise; however, it is unclear how the expression of mutant huntingtin (htt) compromises the normal functions of immune cells. Here we report that primary microglia from early postnatal HD mice were profoundly impaired in their migration to chemotactic stimuli, and expression of a mutant htt fragment in microglial cell lines was sufficient to reproduce these deficits. Microglia expressing mutant htt had a retarded response to a laser-induced brain injury in vivo. Leukocyte recruitment was defective upon induction of peritonitis in HD mice at early disease stages and was normalized upon genetic deletion of mutant htt in immune cells. Migration was also strongly impaired in peripheral immune cells from pre-manifest human HD patients. Defective actin remodeling in immune cells expressing mutant htt likely contributed to their migration deficit. Our results suggest that these functional changes may contribute to immune dysfunction and neurodegeneration in HD, and may have implications for other polyglutamine expansion diseases in which mutant proteins are ubiquitously expressed. Source

Larkin P.B.,Gladstone | Larkin P.B.,University of California at San Francisco | Muchowski P.J.,Gladstone | Muchowski P.J.,University of California at San Francisco | Muchowski P.J.,Taube Koret Center for Huntingtons Disease Research
Journal of Huntington's Disease | Year: 2012

Several genes and proteins of the complement cascade are present at elevated levels in brains of patients with Huntington's disease (HD). The complement cascade is well characterized as an effector arm of the immune system, and in the brain it is important for developmental synapse elimination. We hypothesized that increased levels of complement in HD brains contributes to disease progression, perhaps by contributing to synapse elimination or inflammatory signaling. We tested this hypothesis in the R6/2 mouse model of HD by crossing mice deficient in complement component 3 (C3), a crucial complement protein found at increased levels in HD brains, to R6/2 mice and monitoring behavioral and neuropathological disease progression. We found no alterations in multiple behavioral assays, weight or survival in R6/2 mice lacking C3. We also quantified the expression of several complement cascade genes in R6/2 brains and found that the large scale upregulation of complement genes observed in HD brains is not mirrored in R6/2 brains. These data show that C3 deficiency does not alter disease progression in the R6/2 mouse model of HD. © 2012 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved. Source

Zwilling D.,University of California at San Francisco | Huang S.-Y.,University of California at San Francisco | Huang S.-Y.,Taube Koret Center for Huntingtons Disease Research | Sathyasaikumar K.V.,University of Maryland, Baltimore | And 23 more authors.
Cell | Year: 2011

Metabolites in the kynurenine pathway, generated by tryptophan degradation, are thought to play an important role in neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's and Huntington's diseases. In these disorders, glutamate receptor-mediated excitotoxicity and free radical formation have been correlated with decreased levels of the neuroprotective metabolite kynurenic acid. Here, we describe the synthesis and characterization of JM6, a small-molecule prodrug inhibitor of kynurenine 3-monooxygenase (KMO). Chronic oral administration of JM6 inhibits KMO in the blood, increasing kynurenic acid levels and reducing extracellular glutamate in the brain. In a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, JM6 prevents spatial memory deficits, anxiety-related behavior, and synaptic loss. JM6 also extends life span, prevents synaptic loss, and decreases microglial activation in a mouse model of Huntington's disease. These findings support a critical link between tryptophan metabolism in the blood and neurodegeneration, and they provide a foundation for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved. Source

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