University of Leuven and Center for the Biology of Disease

Leuven, Belgium

University of Leuven and Center for the Biology of Disease

Leuven, Belgium
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Callaerts-Vegh Z.,Catholic University of Leuven | Ahmed T.,Catholic University of Leuven | Vermaercke B.,Catholic University of Leuven | Marynen P.,University of Leuven and Center for the Biology of Disease | And 3 more authors.
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience | Year: 2015

Nuclear RNA export factors (NXF) are conserved in all metazoans and are deemed essential for shuttling RNA across the nuclear envelope and other post-transcriptional processes (such as mRNA metabolism, storage and stability). Disruption of human NXF5 has been implicated in intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. In the present report, we use recently described Nxf7 knockout (KO) mice as an experimental model to analyze in detail the behavioral consequences of clinical NXF5 deficiency. We examined male Nxf7 KO mice using an extended cognitive and behavioral test battery, and recorded extracellular field potentials in the hippocampal CA1 region. We observed various cognitive and behavioral changes including alterations in social exploration, impaired spatial learning and spatio-cognitive abilities. We also defined a new experimental paradigm to discriminate search strategies in Morris water maze and showed significant differences between Nxf7 KO and control animals. Furthermore, while we observed no difference in a nose poke suppression in an conditioned emotional response (CER) protocol, Nxf7 KO mice were impaired in discriminating between differentially reinforced cues in an auditory fear conditioning protocol. This distinct neurocognitive phenotype was accompanied by impaired hippocampal Long-term potentiation (LTP), while long-term depression (LTD) was not affected by Nxf7 deficiency. Our data demonstrate that disruption of murine Nxf7 leads to behavioral phenotypes that may relate to the intellectual and social deficits in patients with NXF5 deficiency. © 2015 Callaerts-Vegh, Ahmed, Vermaercke, Marynen, Balschun, Froyen and D’Hooge.


Diaper D.C.,King's College London | Adachi Y.,King's College London | Sutcliffe B.,Universities of Exeter and Plymouth | Humphrey D.M.,King's College London | And 11 more authors.
Human Molecular Genetics | Year: 2013

Cytoplasmic accumulation and nuclear clearance of TDP-43 characterize familial and sporadic forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration, suggesting that either loss or gain of TDP-43 function, or both, cause disease formation. Here we have systematically compared loss- and gain-of-function of Drosophila TDP-43, TAR DNA Binding Protein Homolog (TBPH), in synaptic function and morphology, motor control, and age-related neuronal survival. Both loss and gain of TBPH severely affect development and result in premature lethality. TBPH dysfunction caused impaired synaptic transmission at the larval neuromuscular junction (NMJ) and in the adult. Tissue-specific knockdown together with electrophysiological recordings at the larval NMJ also revealed that alterations of TBPH function predominantly affect pre-synaptic efficacy, suggesting that impaired pre-synaptic transmission is one of the earliest events in TDP-43-related pathogenesis. Prolonged loss and gain of TBPH in adults resulted in synaptic defects and age-related, progressive degeneration of neurons involved in motor control. Toxic gain of TBPH did not downregulate or mislocalize its own expression, indicating that a dominant-negative effect leads to progressive neurodegeneration also seen with mutational inactivation of TBPH. Together these data suggest that dysfunction of Drosophila TDP-43 triggers a cascade of events leading to loss-of-function phenotypes whereby impaired synaptic transmission results in defective motor behavior and progressive deconstruction of neuronal connections, ultimately causing age-related neurodegeneration. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


Peirs S.,Ghent University | Matthijssens F.,Ghent University | Goossens S.,Vlaams Institute for Biotechnology | Van De Walle I.,Ghent University | And 17 more authors.
Blood | Year: 2014

T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is a high-risk subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with gradually improved survival through introduction of intensified chemotherapy. However, therapy-resistant or refractory T-ALL remains a major clinical challenge. Here, we evaluated B-cell lymphoma (BCL)-2 inhibition by the BH3 mimetic ABT-199 as a new therapeutic strategy in humanT-ALL. The T-ALL cell line LOUCY, which shows a transcriptional program related to immature T-ALL, exhibited high in vitro and in vivo sensitivity for ABT-199 in correspondence with high levels of BCL-2. In addition, ABT-199 showed synergistic therapeutic effects with different chemotherapeutic agents including doxorubicin, L-asparaginase, and dexamethasone. Furthermore, in vitro analysis of primary patient samples indicated that some immature, TLX3- or HOXA-positive primary T-ALLs are highly sensitive to BCL-2 inhibition, whereas TAL1 driven tumors mostly showed poor ABT-199 responses. Because BCL-2 shows high expression in early T-cell precursors and gradually decreases during normal T-cell differentiation, differences in ABT-199 sensitivity could partially be mediated by distinct stages of differentiation arrest between different molecular genetic subtypes of human T-ALL. In conclusion, our study highlights BCL-2 as an attractive molecular target in specific subtypes of human T-ALL that could be exploited by ABT-199. © 2014 by The American Society of Hematology.


PubMed | University of Leuven and Center for the Biology of Disease, Ghent University, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Vlaams Institute for Biotechnology and 3 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Blood | Year: 2014

T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is a high-risk subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with gradually improved survival through introduction of intensified chemotherapy. However, therapy-resistant or refractory T-ALL remains a major clinical challenge. Here, we evaluated B-cell lymphoma (BCL)-2 inhibition by the BH3 mimetic ABT-199 as a new therapeutic strategy in human T-ALL. The T-ALL cell line LOUCY, which shows a transcriptional program related to immature T-ALL, exhibited high in vitro and in vivo sensitivity for ABT-199 in correspondence with high levels of BCL-2. In addition, ABT-199 showed synergistic therapeutic effects with different chemotherapeutic agents including doxorubicin, l-asparaginase, and dexamethasone. Furthermore, in vitro analysis of primary patient samples indicated that some immature, TLX3- or HOXA-positive primary T-ALLs are highly sensitive to BCL-2 inhibition, whereas TAL1 driven tumors mostly showed poor ABT-199 responses. Because BCL-2 shows high expression in early T-cell precursors and gradually decreases during normal T-cell differentiation, differences in ABT-199 sensitivity could partially be mediated by distinct stages of differentiation arrest between different molecular genetic subtypes of human T-ALL. In conclusion, our study highlights BCL-2 as an attractive molecular target in specific subtypes of human T-ALL that could be exploited by ABT-199.


Peric A.,University of Leuven and Center for the Biology of Disease | Annaert W.,University of Leuven and Center for the Biology of Disease
Acta Neuropathologica | Year: 2015

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia in the elderly. This brain neuropathology is characterized by a progressive synaptic dysfunction and neuronal loss, which lead to decline in memory and other cognitive functions. Histopathologically, AD manifests via synaptic abnormalities, neuronal degeneration as well as the deposition of extracellular amyloid plaques and intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles. While the exact pathogenic contribution of these two AD hallmarks and their abundant constituents [aggregation-prone amyloid β (Aβ) peptide species and hyperphosphorylated tau protein, respectively] remain debated, a growing body of evidence suggests that their development may be paralleled or even preceded by the alterations/dysfunctions in the endolysosomal and the autophagic system. In AD-affected neurons, abnormalities in these cellular pathways are readily observed already at early stages of disease development, and even though many studies agree that defective lysosomal degradation may relate to or even underlie some of these deficits, specific upstream molecular defects are still deliberated. In this review we summarize various pathogenic events that may lead to these cellular abnormalities, in light of our current understanding of molecular mechanisms that govern AD progression. In addition, we also highlight the increasing evidence supporting mutual functional dependence of the endolysosomal trafficking and autophagy, in particular focusing on those molecules and processes which may be of significance to AD. © 2014, The Author(s).

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