|Dr. rer. nat. Joachim Rosenbusch|
The ATP-dependent BRG1/BRM associated factor (BAF) chromatin remodeling complexes are crucial in regulating gene expression by controlling chromatin dynamics. Over the last decade, it has become increasingly clear that during neural development in mammals, distinct ontogenetic stage-specific BAF complexes derived from combinatorial assembly of their subunits are formed in neural progenitors and post-mitotic neural cells. Proper functioning of the BAF complexes plays critical roles in neural development, including the establishment and maintenance of neural fates and functionality. Indeed, recent human exome sequencing and genome-wide association studies have revealed that mutations in BAF complex subunits are linked to neurodevelopmental disorders such as Coffin-Siris syndrome, Nicolaides-Baraitser syndrome, Kleefstra’s syndrome spectrum, Hirschsprung’s disease, autism spectrum disorder, and schizophrenia. In this review, we focus on the latest insights into the functions of BAF complexes during neural development and the plausible mechanistic basis of how mutations in known BAF subunits are associated with certain neurodevelopmental disorders.
Neurogenesis is a key developmental event through which neurons are generated from neural stem/progenitor cells. Chromatin remodeling BAF (mSWI/SNF) complexes have been reported to play essential roles in the neurogenesis of the central nervous system. However, whether BAF complexes are required for neuron generation in the olfactory system is unknown. Here, we identified onscBAF and ornBAF complexes, which are specifically present in olfactory neural stem cells (oNSCs) and olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs), respectively. We demonstrated that BAF155 subunit is highly expressed in both oNSCs and ORNs, whereas high expression of BAF170 subunit is observed only in ORNs. We report that conditional deletion of BAF155, a core subunit in both onscBAF and ornBAF complexes, causes impaired proliferation of oNSCs as well as defective maturation and axonogenesis of ORNs in the developing olfactory epithelium (OE), while the high expression of BAF170 is important for maturation of ORNs. Interestingly, in the absence of BAF complexes in BAF155/BAF170 double-conditional knockout mice (dcKO), OE is not specified. Mechanistically, BAF complex is required for normal activation of Pax6-dependent transcriptional activity in stem cells/progenitors of the OE. Our findings unveil a novel mechanism mediated by the mSWI/SNF complex in OE neurogenesis and development.
The multi-subunit chromatin-remodeling SWI/SNF (known as BAF for Brg/Brm-associated factor) complexes play essential roles in development. Studies have shown that the loss of individual BAF subunits often affects local chromatin structure and specific transcriptional programs. However, we do not fully understand how BAF complexes function in development because no animal mutant had been engineered to lack entire multi-subunit BAF complexes. Importantly, we recently reported that double conditional knock-out (dcKO) of the BAF155 and BAF170 core subunits in mice abolished the presence of the other BAF subunits in the developing cortex. The generated dcKO mutant provides a novel and powerful tool for investigating how entire BAF complexes affect cortical development. Using this model, we found that BAF complexes globally control the key heterochromatin marks, H3K27me2 and -3, by directly modulating the enzymatic activity of the H3K27 demethylases, Utx and Jmjd3. Here, we present further insights into how the scaffolding ability of the BAF155 and BAF170 core subunits maintains the stability of BAF complexes in the forebrain and throughout the embryo during development. Furthermore, we show that the loss of BAF complexes in the above-described model up-regulates H3K27me3 and impairs forebrain development and embryogenesis. These findings improve our understanding of epigenetic mechanisms and their modulation by the chromatin-remodeling SWI/SNF complexes that control embryonic development.
BAF (Brg/Brm-associated factors) complexes play important roles in development and are linked to chromatin plasticity at selected genomic loci. Nevertheless, a full understanding of their role in development and chromatin remodeling has been hindered by the absence of mutants completely lacking BAF complexes. Here, we report that the loss of BAF155/BAF170 in double-conditional knock-out (dcKO) mice eliminates all known BAF subunits, resulting in an overall reduction in active chromatin marks (H3K9Ac), a global increase in repressive marks (H3K27me2/3), and down-regulation of gene expression. We demonstrate that BAF complexes interact with H3K27 demethylases (JMJD3, UTX) and potentiate their activity. Importantly BAF complexes are indispensable for forebrain development, including proliferation, differentiation and cell survival of neural progenitor cells. Our findings reveal a molecular mechanism mediated by BAF complexes that controls global transcriptional program and chromatin state in development.
Fusion between membranes is mediated by specific SNARE complexes. Here we report that fibroblasts survive the absence of the trans-Golgi network/early endosomal SNARE vti1a and the late endosomal SNARE vti1b with intact organelle morphology and minor trafficking defects. Because vti1a and vti1b are the only members of their SNARE subclass and the yeast homolog Vti1p is essential for cell survival, these data suggest that more distantly related SNAREs acquired the ability to function in endosomal traffic during evolution. However, absence of vti1a and vti1b resulted in perinatal lethality. Major axon tracts were missing, reduced in size, or misrouted in Vti1a(-/-) Vti1b(-/-) embryos. Progressive neurodegeneration was observed in most Vti1a(-/-) Vti1b(-/-) peripheral ganglia. Neurons were reduced by more than 95% in Vti1a(-/-) Vti1b(-/-) dorsal root and geniculate ganglia at embryonic day 18.5. These data suggest that special demands for endosomal membrane traffic could not be met in Vti1a(-/-) Vti1b(-/-) neurons. Vti1a(-/-) and Vti1b(-/-) single deficient mice were viable without these neuronal defects, indicating that they can substitute for each other in these processes.
Neurotrophic factors are well-recognized extracellular signaling molecules that regulate neuron development including neurite growth, survival and maturation of neuronal phenotypes in the central and peripheral nervous system. Previous studies have suggested that TGF-beta plays a key role in the regulation of neuron survival and death and potentiates the neurotrophic activity of several neurotrophic factors, most strikingly of GDNF. To test the physiological relevance of this finding, TGF-beta2/GDNF double mutant (d-ko) mice were generated. Double mutant mice die at birth like single mutants due to kidney agenesis (GDNF-/-) and congential cyanosis (TGF-beta2-/-), respectively. To test for the in vivo relevance of TGF-beta2/GDNF cooperativity to regulate neuron survival, mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons, lumbar motoneurons, as well as neurons of the lumbar dorsal root ganglion and the superior cervical ganglion were investigated. No loss of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons was observed in double mutant mice at E18.5. A partial reduction in neuron numbers was observed in lumbar motoneurons, sensory and sympathetic neurons in GDNF single mutants, which was further reduced in TGF-beta2/GDNF double mutant mice at E18.5. However, TGF-beta2 single mutant mice showed no loss of neurons. These data point towards a cooperative role of TGF-beta2 and GDNF with regard to promotion of survival within the peripheral motor and sensory systems investigated.
Aberrant reorganization of hippocampal mossy fibers occurs in human temporal lobe epilepsy and rodent epilepsy models. We generated a mouse model showing massive late-onset aberrant mossy fiber sprouting in the adult hippocampus. The mutation in this mouse model derives from an intronic insertion of transgene DNA in the mouse PLC-beta1 gene (PLC-beta 1(-/-)(TC) mutation) leading to a splice mutation of the PLC-beta 1 gene and a complete loss of downstream PLC-beta 1 expression. PLC-beta 1(-/-)(TC) mutants develop a loss of NMDA-receptors in the stratum oriens of region CA1, apoptotic neuronal death, and reduced hippocampal PKC activity. The phenotype of these mice further consists of a late-onset epileptiform hyperexcitability, behavioral modifications in a radial maze and in an open field, female nurturing defect, and male infertility. In the present study, we provide evidence that the arising of the behavioral phenotype in PLC-beta 1(-/-)(TC) mice correlates in time with the development of the aberrant mossy fiber projections and that the disruption of the PLC-beta 1-mediated signal transduction pathway may lead to a functional cholinergic denervation, which could cause hippocampal remodeling and, in consequence, epileptiform hyperexcitability.