ABOUT

Pierchala Lab's research interests

Development and refinement of peripheral neural circuits

During development of the nervous system, axonal projections and synaptic contacts are supported by target-derived neuroptrophic factors, such as the neurotrophins and the glial cell line-derived (GDNF) family ligands (GFLs). During this period of target innervation, neurons often make excessive projections into their targets that are later pruned back. Development of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), for example, undergoes a process in which NMJs are initially innervated by several axons, known as polyneuronal innervation. Then, through a process known as synaptic elimination, weaker connections are eliminated resulting in a 1:1 pairing between the presynaptic motor neuron and the postsynaptic receptor clusters in the muscle. This competitive “pushing out” of weaker axonal connections occurs by the release of inhibitory factors by the successful axons. The delicate balance between growth and survival-promoting neurotrophic factors, and inhibitory competitive factors, is thought to ultimately sculpt the architecture of mature circuits. My laboratory is interested in understanding the ligand and receptor mechanisms responsible for growth and survival promotion, synaptic elimination and apoptosis, and regeneration of peripheral neurons. We utilize biochemical and cell biological methods for the analysis of transgenic mice in which these receptors and ligands are deleted at specific developmental times. The determination of these mechanisms of survival, cell death and circuit maintenance will enable a more rational approach for the development of therapeutic strategies for diseases and injuries of the nervous system.

DIRECTOR

Brian Pierchala, PhD

Principal Investigator

Brian Pierchala received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Oakland University in Michigan and obtained a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In the laboratory of David D. Ginty, his doctoral research investigated the ability of Nerve Growth Factor, a potent survival factor for sensory and sympathetic neurons, to support neuronal function when only activating receptors on axon terminals. His work on “retrograde” NGF signaling influenced the most widely accepted view of the field, namely that stable ligand-receptor complexes are trafficked in neurons over long distances to regulate biochemical events in the cell body necessary for survival, growth, and differentiation. Dr. Pierchala conducted his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Eugene M. Johnson, Jr. at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis. There, he investigated a newly discovered family of neuronal growth factors, the Glial Cell Line-derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) Family Ligands (GFLs) and made several contributions to the understanding of how the GDNF receptor complex signals survival and differentiation. He continued his investigation of GDNF receptor signal transduction as an Assistant Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo prior to his arrival to the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences. His laboratory investigates the mechanisms of action of neurotrophic factors and proapoptotic factors in the development, maintenance and regeneration of the peripheral nervous system.

Dr. Pierchala is a Principal Investigator on research projects funded by the NIH and CHDI. He has instructed undergraduate students, Ph.D. graduate students and dental students in neurobiology, signal transduction, and cell biology. Dr. Pierchala serves as a reviewer for multiple journals including The Journal of Neuroscience, Nature and Science, and has served as a reviewer on NIH study sections.


PUBLICATIONS

The most recent publications are reported below via PubMed search.

To see all PubMed results go to the complete listing of publications by Dr. Pierchala.

Exon Skipping in RET Encodes Novel Isoforms that Differentially Regulate RET Signal Transduction.

Related Articles

Exon Skipping in RET Encodes Novel Isoforms that Differentially Regulate RET Signal Transduction.

J Biol Chem. 2016 May 23;

Authors: Gabreski NA, Vaghasia JK, Novakova SS, McDonald NQ, Pierchala BA

Abstract
RET, a receptor tyrosine kinase that is activated by the glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family ligands (GFLs), plays a crucial role in the development and function of the nervous system, and additionally is required for kidney development and spermatogenesis. RET encodes a transmembrane receptor that is 20 exons long and produces two known protein isoforms differing in C-terminal amino acid composition, referred to as RET9 and RET51. Studies of human pheochromocytomas identified two additional novel transcripts involving the skipping of exon 3 or exons 3, 4, and 5 and are referred to as RET(ΔE3) and RET(ΔE345), respectively. Here we report the presence of Ret(ΔE3) and Ret(ΔE345) in zebrafish, mice, and rats, and show that these transcripts are dynamically expressed throughout development of the CNS, PNS and kidneys. We further explore the biochemical properties of these isoforms, demonstrating that, like full-length RET, RET(∆E3) and RET(∆E345) are trafficked to the cell surface, interact with all four GFRα co-receptors, and have the ability to heterodimerize with full-length RET. Signaling experiments indicate that RET(ΔE3) is phosphorylated in a similar manner to full-length RET. RET(ΔE345), in contrast, displays higher baseline autophosphorylation, specifically on the catalytic tyrosine, Tyr905, and also on one of the most important signaling residues, Tyr1062. These data provide the first evidence for a physiologic role of these isoforms in RET pathway function.

PMID: 27226544 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Digital Version

Semaphorin 3A is a retrograde cell death signal in developing sympathetic neurons.

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Semaphorin 3A is a retrograde cell death signal in developing sympathetic neurons.

Development. 2016 May 1;143(9):1560-70

Authors: Wehner AB, Abdesselem H, Dickendesher TL, Imai F, Yoshida Y, Giger RJ, Pierchala BA

Abstract
During development of the peripheral nervous system, excess neurons are generated, most of which will be lost by programmed cell death due to a limited supply of neurotrophic factors from their targets. Other environmental factors, such as 'competition factors' produced by neurons themselves, and axon guidance molecules have also been implicated in developmental cell death. Semaphorin 3A (Sema3A), in addition to its function as a chemorepulsive guidance cue, can also induce death of sensory neurons in vitro The extent to which Sema3A regulates developmental cell death in vivo, however, is debated. We show that in compartmentalized cultures of rat sympathetic neurons, a Sema3A-initiated apoptosis signal is retrogradely transported from axon terminals to cell bodies to induce cell death. Sema3A-mediated apoptosis utilizes the extrinsic pathway and requires both neuropilin 1 and plexin A3. Sema3A is not retrogradely transported in older, survival factor-independent sympathetic neurons, and is much less effective at inducing apoptosis in these neurons. Importantly, deletion of either neuropilin 1 or plexin A3 significantly reduces developmental cell death in the superior cervical ganglia. Taken together, a Sema3A-initiated apoptotic signaling complex regulates the apoptosis of sympathetic neurons during the period of naturally occurring cell death.

PMID: 27143756 [PubMed - in process]

Digital Version

The p75 neurotrophin receptor augments survival signaling in the striatum of pre-symptomatic Q175(WT/HD) mice.

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The p75 neurotrophin receptor augments survival signaling in the striatum of pre-symptomatic Q175(WT/HD) mice.

Neuroscience. 2016 Jun 2;324:297-306

Authors: Wehner AB, Milen AM, Albin RL, Pierchala BA

Abstract
Huntington's disease (HD) is a dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a constellation of motor, cognitive, and psychiatric features. Striatal medium spiny neurons, one of the most affected populations, are dependent on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) anterogradely transported from the cortex for proper function and survival. Recent studies suggest both receptors for BDNF, TrkB and p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75), are improperly regulated in the striata of HD patients and mouse models of HD. While BDNF-TrkB signaling almost exclusively promotes survival and metabolic function, p75 signaling is able to induce survival or apoptosis depending on the available ligand and associated co-receptor. We investigated the role of p75 in the Q175 knock-in mouse model of HD by examining the levels and activation of downstream signaling molecules, and subsequently examining Hdh(+/Q175);p75(-/-) mice to determine if p75 represents a promising therapeutic target. In Hdh(+/Q175);p75(+/+) mice, we observed enhanced survival signaling as evidenced by an increase in phosphorylation and activation of Akt and the p65 subunit of NFκB in the striatum at 5months of age and an increase in XIAP expression compared to Hdh(+/+);p75(+/+) mice; this increase was lost in Hdh(+/Q175);p75(-/-) mice. Hdh(+/Q175);p75(-/-) mice also showed a decrease in Bcl-XL expression by immunoblotting compared to Hdh(+/Q175);p75(+/+) and Hdh(+/+);p75(+/+) littermates. Consistent with diminished survival signaling, DARPP-32 expression decreased both by immunoblotting and by immunohistochemistry in Hdh(+/Q175);p75(-/-) mice compared to Hdh(+/+);p75(+/+), Hdh(+/Q175);p75(+/+), and Hdh(+/+);p75(-/-) littermates. Additionally, striatal volume declined to a greater extent in Hdh(+/Q175);p75(-/-) when compared to Hdh(+/Q175);p75(+/+) littermates at 12months, indicating a more aggressive onset of degeneration. These data suggest that p75 signaling plays an early role in augmenting pro-survival signaling in the striatum and that disruption of p75 signaling at a pre-symptomatic age may exacerbate pathologic changes in Hdh(+/Q175) mice.

PMID: 26947127 [PubMed - in process]

Digital Version

Lipid Rafts Are Physiologic Membrane Microdomains Necessary for the Morphogenic and Developmental Functions of Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor In Vivo.

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Lipid Rafts Are Physiologic Membrane Microdomains Necessary for the Morphogenic and Developmental Functions of Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor In Vivo.

J Neurosci. 2015 Sep 23;35(38):13233-43

Authors: Tsui CC, Gabreski NA, Hein SJ, Pierchala BA

Abstract
Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) promotes PNS development and kidney morphogenesis via a receptor complex consisting of the glycerophosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored, ligand binding receptor GDNF family receptor α1 (GFRα1) and the receptor tyrosine kinase Ret. Although Ret signal transduction in vitro is augmented by translocation into lipid rafts via GFRα1, the existence and importance of lipid rafts in GDNF-Ret signaling under physiologic conditions is unresolved. A knock-in mouse was produced that replaced GFRα1 with GFRα1-TM, which contains a transmembrane (TM) domain instead of the GPI anchor. GFRα1-TM still binds GDNF and promotes Ret activation but does not translocate into rafts. In Gfrα1(TM/TM) mice, GFRα1-TM is expressed, trafficked, and processed at levels identical to GFRα1. Although Gfrα1(+/TM) mice are viable, Gfrα1(TM/TM) mice display bilateral renal agenesis, lack enteric neurons in the intestines, and have motor axon guidance deficits, similar to Gfrα1(-/-) mice. Therefore, the recruitment of Ret into lipid rafts by GFRα1 is required for the physiologic functions of GDNF in vertebrates. Significance statement: Membrane microdomains known as lipid rafts have been proposed to be unique subdomains in the plasma membrane that are critical for the signaling functions of multiple receptor complexes. Their existence and physiologic relevance has been debated. Based on in vitro studies, lipid rafts have been reported to be necessary for the function of the Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family of neurotrophic factors. The receptor for GDNF comprises the lipid raft-resident, glycerophosphatidylinositol-anchored receptor GDNF family receptor α1 (GFRα1) and the receptor tyrosine kinase Ret. Here we demonstrate, using a knock-in mouse model in which GFRα1 is no longer located in lipid rafts, that the developmental functions of GDNF in the periphery require the translocation of the GDNF receptor complex into lipid rafts.

PMID: 26400951 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

Polarized expression of p75(NTR) specifies axons during development and adult neurogenesis.

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Polarized expression of p75(NTR) specifies axons during development and adult neurogenesis.

Cell Rep. 2014 Apr 10;7(1):138-52

Authors: Zuccaro E, Bergami M, Vignoli B, Bony G, Pierchala BA, Santi S, Cancedda L, Canossa M

Abstract
VIDEO ABSTRACT: Newly generated neurons initiate polarizing signals that specify a single axon and multiple dendrites, a process critical for patterning neuronal circuits in vivo. Here, we report that the pan-neurotrophin receptor p75(NTR) is a polarity regulator that localizes asymmetrically in differentiating neurons in response to neurotrophins and is required for specification of the future axon. In cultured hippocampal neurons, local exposure to neurotrophins causes early accumulation of p75(NTR) into one undifferentiated neurite to specify axon fate. Moreover, knockout or knockdown of p75(NTR) results in failure to initiate an axon in newborn neurons upon cell-cycle exit in vitro and in the developing cortex, as well as during adult hippocampal neurogenesis in vivo. Hence, p75(NTR) governs neuronal polarity, determining pattern and assembly of neuronal circuits in adult hippocampus and cortical development.

PMID: 24685135 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

CD2-associated protein (CD2AP) enhances casitas B lineage lymphoma-3/c (Cbl-3/c)-mediated Ret isoform-specific ubiquitination and degradation via its amino-terminal Src homology 3 domains.

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CD2-associated protein (CD2AP) enhances casitas B lineage lymphoma-3/c (Cbl-3/c)-mediated Ret isoform-specific ubiquitination and degradation via its amino-terminal Src homology 3 domains.

J Biol Chem. 2014 Mar 14;289(11):7307-19

Authors: Calco GN, Stephens OR, Donahue LM, Tsui CC, Pierchala BA

Abstract
Ret is the receptor tyrosine kinase for the glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family of neuronal growth factors. Upon activation by GDNF, Ret is rapidly polyubiquitinated and degraded. This degradation process is isoform-selective, with the longer Ret51 isoform exhibiting different degradation kinetics than the shorter isoform, Ret9. In sympathetic neurons, Ret degradation is induced, at least in part, by a complex consisting of the adaptor protein CD2AP and the E3-ligase Cbl-3/c. Knockdown of Cbl-3/c using siRNA reduced the GDNF-induced ubiquitination and degradation of Ret51 in neurons and podocytes, suggesting that Cbl-3/c was a predominant E3 ligase for Ret. Coexpression of CD2AP with Cbl-3/c augmented the ubiquitination of Ret51 as compared with the expression of Cbl-3/c alone. Ret51 ubiquitination by the CD2AP·Cbl-3/c complex required a functional ring finger and TKB domain in Cbl-3/c. The SH3 domains of CD2AP were sufficient to drive the Cbl-3/c-dependent ubiquitination of Ret51, whereas the carboxyl-terminal coiled-coil domain of CD2AP was dispensable. Interestingly, activated Ret induced the degradation of CD2AP, but not Cbl-3/c, suggesting a potential inhibitory feedback mechanism. There were only two major ubiquitination sites in Ret51, Lys(1060) and Lys(1107), and the combined mutation of these lysines almost completely eliminated both the ubiquitination and degradation of Ret51. Ret9 was not ubiquitinated by the CD2AP·Cbl-3/c complex, suggesting that Ret9 was down-regulated by a fundamentally different mechanism. Taken together, these results suggest that only the SH3 domains of CD2AP were necessary to enhance the E3 ligase activity of Cbl-3/c toward Ret51.

PMID: 24425877 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

Expression of axonal protein degradation machinery in sympathetic neurons is regulated by nerve growth factor.

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Expression of axonal protein degradation machinery in sympathetic neurons is regulated by nerve growth factor.

J Neurosci Res. 2012 Aug;90(8):1533-46

Authors: Frampton JP, Guo C, Pierchala BA

Abstract
Deficiencies in protein degradation and proteolytic function within neurons are linked to a number of neurodegenerative diseases and developmental disorders. Compartmentalized cultures of peripheral neurons were used to investigate the properties and relative abundance of the proteolytic machinery in the axons and cell bodies of sympathetic and sensory neurons. Immunoblotting of axonal proteins demonstrated that LAMP2, LC3, and PSMA2 were abundant in axons, suggesting that lysosomes, autophagosomes and proteasomes were located in axons. Interestingly, the expression of proteins associated with lysosomes and proteasomes were upregulated selectively in axons by NGF stimulation of the distal axons of sympathetic neurons, suggesting that axonal growth and maintenance requires local protein turnover. The regulation of the abundance of both proteasomes and lysosomes in axons by NGF provides a link between protein degradation and the trophic status of peripheral neurons. Inhibition of proteasomes located in axons resulted in an accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins in these axons. In contrast, lysosome inhibition in axons did not result in an accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins or the transferrin receptor, a transmembrane protein degraded by lysosomes. Interestingly, lysosomes were transported both retrogradely and anterogradely, so it is likely that ubiquitinated proteins that are normally destined for degradation by lysosomes in axons can be transported to the cell bodies for degradation. In summary, proteasomal degradation occurs locally, whereas proteins degraded by lysosomes can most likely either be degraded locally in axons or be transported to cell bodies for degradation.

PMID: 22411744 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

Ret is a multifunctional coreceptor that integrates diffusible- and contact-axon guidance signals.

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Ret is a multifunctional coreceptor that integrates diffusible- and contact-axon guidance signals.

Cell. 2012 Feb 3;148(3):568-82

Authors: Bonanomi D, Chivatakarn O, Bai G, Abdesselem H, Lettieri K, Marquardt T, Pierchala BA, Pfaff SL

Abstract
Growing axons encounter multiple guidance cues, but it is unclear how separate signals are resolved and integrated into coherent instructions for growth cone navigation. We report that glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored ephrin-As function as "reverse" signaling receptors for motor axons when contacted by transmembrane EphAs present in the dorsal limb. Ephrin-A receptors are thought to depend on transmembrane coreceptors for transmitting signals intracellularly. We show that the receptor tyrosine kinase Ret is required for motor axon attraction mediated by ephrin-A reverse signaling. Ret also mediates GPI-anchored GFRα1 signaling in response to GDNF, a diffusible chemoattractant in the limb, indicating that Ret is a multifunctional coreceptor for guidance molecules. Axons respond synergistically to coactivation by GDNF and EphA ligands, and these cooperative interactions are gated by GFRα1 levels. Our studies uncover a hierarchical GPI-receptor signaling network that is constructed from combinatorial components and integrated through Ret using ligand coincidence detection.

PMID: 22304922 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

Proteomic analysis of the slit diaphragm complex: CLIC5 is a protein critical for podocyte morphology and function.

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Proteomic analysis of the slit diaphragm complex: CLIC5 is a protein critical for podocyte morphology and function.

Kidney Int. 2010 Nov;78(9):868-82

Authors: Pierchala BA, Muñoz MR, Tsui CC

Abstract
Podocytes are morphologically complex cells, the junctions of which form critical elements of the final filtration barrier. Disruption of their foot processes and slit diaphragms occur early in the development of many glomerular diseases. Here, we biochemically purified fractions enriched with slit diaphragm proteins and performed a proteomic analysis to identify new components of this important structure. Several known slit diaphragm proteins were found, such as podocin and nephrin, confirming the validity of the purification scheme. However, proteins on the apical membrane such as podocalyxin were neither enriched nor identified in our analysis. The chloride intracellular channel protein 5 (CLIC5), predominantly expressed in podocytes, was enriched in these fractions and localized in the foot process apical and basal membranes. CLIC5 colocalized and associated with the ezrin/radixin/moesin complex and with podocalyxin in podocytes in vivo. It is important to note that CLIC5(-/-) mice were found to have significantly decreased foot process length, widespread foot process abnormalities, and developed proteinuria. The ezrin/radixin/moesin complex and podocalyxin were significantly decreased in podocytes from CLIC5(-/-) mice. Thus, our study identifies CLIC5 as a new component that is enriched in and necessary for foot process integrity and podocyte function in vivo.

PMID: 20664558 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

The differential axonal degradation of Ret accounts for cell-type-specific function of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor as a retrograde survival factor.

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The differential axonal degradation of Ret accounts for cell-type-specific function of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor as a retrograde survival factor.

J Neurosci. 2010 Apr 14;30(15):5149-58

Authors: Tsui CC, Pierchala BA

Abstract
Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a neuronal growth factor critical for the development and maintenance of central and peripheral neurons. GDNF is expressed in targets of innervation and provides support to several populations of large, projection neurons. To determine whether GDNF promotes retrograde survival over long axonal distances to cell bodies, we used a compartmentalized culture system. GDNF supported only modest and transient survival of postnatal sympathetic neurons when applied to their distal axons, in contrast to dorsal root ganglion (DRG) sensory neurons in which GDNF promoted survival equally well from either distal axons or cell bodies. Ret, the receptor tyrosine kinase for GDNF, underwent rapid proteasomal degradation in the axons of sympathetic neurons. Interestingly, the level of activated Ret in DRG neurons was sustained in the axons and also appeared in the cell bodies, suggesting that Ret was not degraded in sensory axons and was retrogradely transported. Pharmacologic inhibition of proteasomes only in the distal axons of sympathetic neurons caused an accumulation of activated Ret in both the axons and cell bodies during GDNF stimulation. Furthermore, exposure of the distal axons of sympathetic neurons to both GDNF and proteasome inhibitors, but neither one alone, promoted robust survival, identical to GDNF applied directly to the cell bodies. This differential responsiveness of sympathetic and sensory neurons to target-derived GDNF was attributable to the differential expression and degradation of the Ret9 and Ret51 isoforms. Therefore, the local degradation of Ret in axons dictates whether GDNF family ligands act as retrograde survival factors.

PMID: 20392937 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

CD2AP and Cbl-3/Cbl-c constitute a critical checkpoint in the regulation of ret signal transduction.

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CD2AP and Cbl-3/Cbl-c constitute a critical checkpoint in the regulation of ret signal transduction.

J Neurosci. 2008 Aug 27;28(35):8789-800

Authors: Tsui CC, Pierchala BA

Abstract
The glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family ligands (GFLs) are critical for nervous system development and maintenance. GFLs promote survival and growth via activation of the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) Ret. In sympathetic neurons, the duration of Ret signaling is governed by how rapidly Ret is degraded after its activation. In an effort to elucidate mechanisms that control the half-life of Ret, we have identified two novel Ret interactors, CD2-associated protein (CD2AP) and Cbl-3. CD2AP, an adaptor molecule involved in the internalization of ubiquitinated RTKs, is associated with Ret under basal, unstimulated conditions in neurons. After Ret activation by GDNF, CD2AP dissociates. Similarly, the E3-ligase Cbl-3 interacts with unphosphorylated Ret and dissociates from Ret after Ret activation. In contrast to their dissociation from autophosphorylated Ret, an interaction between CD2AP and Cbl-3 is induced by GDNF stimulation of sympathetic neurons, suggesting that CD2AP and Cbl-3 dissociate from Ret as a complex. In neurons, the overexpression of CD2AP enhances the degradation of Ret and inhibits GDNF-dependent survival, and gene silencing of CD2AP blocks Ret degradation and promotes GDNF-mediated survival. Surprisingly, Cbl-3 overexpression dramatically stabilizes activated Ret and enhances neuronal survival, even though Cbl-family E3 ligases normally function to trigger RTK downregulation. In combination with CD2AP, however, Cbl-3 promotes Ret degradation rapidly and almost completely blocks survival promotion by GDNF, suggesting that Cbl-3 acts as a switch that is triggered by CD2AP and oscillates between inhibition and promotion of Ret degradation. Consistent with the hypothesis, Cbl-3 silencing in neurons only inhibited Ret degradation and enhanced neuronal survival in combination with CD2AP silencing. CD2AP and Cbl-3, therefore, constitute a checkpoint that controls the extent of Ret downregulation and, thereby, the sensitivity of neurons to GFLs.

PMID: 18753381 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

NGF augments the autophosphorylation of Ret via inhibition of ubiquitin-dependent degradation.

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NGF augments the autophosphorylation of Ret via inhibition of ubiquitin-dependent degradation.

J Neurochem. 2007 Mar;100(5):1169-76

Authors: Pierchala BA, Tsui CC, Milbrandt J, Johnson EM

Abstract
Nerve growth factor (NGF) is required for the trophic maintenance of postnatal sympathetic neurons. A significant portion of the growth-promoting activity of NGF is from NGF-dependent phosphorylation of the heterologous receptor tyrosine kinase, Ret. We found that NGF applied selectively to distal axons of sympathetic neurons maintained in compartmentalized cultures activated Ret located in these distal axons. Inhibition of either proteasomal or lysosomal degradation pathways mimicked the effect of NGF on Ret activation. Likewise, NGF inhibited the degradation of Ret induced by glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor-dependent activation, a process that requires ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. NGF induced the accumulation of autophosphorylated Ret predominantly in the plasma membrane, in contrast to GDNF, which promoted the internalization of activated Ret. An accretion of monoubiquitinated, but not polyubiquitinated, Ret occurred in NGF-treated neurons, in contrast to glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor that promoted the robust polyubiquitination of Ret. Thus, NGF stimulates Ret activity in mature sympathetic neurons by inhibiting the ongoing ubiquitin-mediated degradation of Ret before its internalization and polyubiquitination.

PMID: 17241133 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor and its receptor ret is a novel ligand-receptor complex critical for survival response during podocyte injury.

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Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor and its receptor ret is a novel ligand-receptor complex critical for survival response during podocyte injury.

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2006 Jun;17(6):1543-52

Authors: Tsui CC, Shankland SJ, Pierchala BA

Abstract
Glomerulosclerosis correlates with a reduction in podocyte number that occurs through mechanisms that include apoptosis. Whether glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), a growth factor that is critical for neural and renal development, is a survival factor for injured podocytes was investigated. Ret, the GDNF receptor tyrosine kinase, was upregulated in podocytes in the passive Heymann nephritis and puromycin aminonucleoside (PA) nephrosis rat models of podocyte injury. In addition, Ret mRNA and protein were upregulated in mouse podocytes in vitro after injury that was induced by sublytic C5b-9 and PA. GDNF, which also was induced during podocyte injury, inhibited significantly the apoptosis of podocytes that was induced by ultraviolet C irradiation. Knockdown of Ret expression by small interference RNA in podocytes exacerbated apoptosis that was induced by both ultraviolet C and PA. Ret knockdown, upon injury, decreased AKT phosphorylation, suggesting that the phosphoinositol-3 kinase/AKT pathway mediated the survival effect of GDNF on podocytes. Consistent with this hypothesis, the selective phosphoinositol-3 kinase inhibitor LY294002 blocked the survival-promoting effects of GDNF. In conclusion, GDNF is a novel podocyte survival factor. Furthermore, Ret is highly upregulated during podocyte injury in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that Ret activation is a critical adaptive response for podocyte remodeling and repair.

PMID: 16672314 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor-dependent recruitment of Ret into lipid rafts enhances signaling by partitioning Ret from proteasome-dependent degradation.

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Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor-dependent recruitment of Ret into lipid rafts enhances signaling by partitioning Ret from proteasome-dependent degradation.

J Neurosci. 2006 Mar 8;26(10):2777-87

Authors: Pierchala BA, Milbrandt J, Johnson EM

Abstract
The receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) Ret is activated by the formation of a complex consisting of ligands such as glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and glycerophosphatidylinositol-anchored coreceptors termed GFRalphas. During activation, Ret translocates into lipid rafts, which is critical for functional responses to GDNF. We found that Ret was rapidly ubiquitinated and degraded in sympathetic neurons when activated with GDNF, but, unlike other RTKs that are trafficked to lysosomes for degradation, Ret was degraded predominantly by the proteasome. After GDNF stimulation, the majority of ubiquitinated Ret was located outside of lipid rafts and Ret was lost predominantly from nonraft membrane domains. Consistent with the predominance of Ret degradation outside of rafts, disruption of lipid rafts in neurons did not alter either the GDNF-dependent ubiquitination or degradation of Ret. GDNF-mediated survival of sympathetic neurons was inhibited by lipid raft depletion, and this inhibitory effect of raft disruption on GDNF-mediated survival was reversed if Ret degradation was blocked via proteasome inhibition. Therefore, lipid rafts sequester Ret away from the degradation machinery located in nonraft membrane domains, such as Cbl family E3 ligases, thereby sustaining Ret signaling.

PMID: 16525057 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

Neurotrophin and GDNF family ligands promote survival and alter excitotoxic vulnerability of neurons derived from murine embryonic stem cells.

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Neurotrophin and GDNF family ligands promote survival and alter excitotoxic vulnerability of neurons derived from murine embryonic stem cells.

Exp Neurol. 2005 Jan;191(1):65-76

Authors: Lee CS, Tee LY, Dusenbery S, Takata T, Golden JP, Pierchala BA, Gottlieb DI, Johnson EM, Choi DW, Snider BJ

Abstract
Embryonic stem (ES) cells are genetically manipulable pluripotential cells that can be differentiated in vitro into neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes. Given their potential utility as a source of replacement cells for the injured nervous system and the likelihood that transplantation interventions might include co-application of growth factors, we examined the effects of neurotrophin and GDNF family ligands on the survival and excitotoxic vulnerability of ES cell-derived neurons (ES neurons) grown in vitro. ES cells were differentiated down a neural lineage in vitro using the 4-/4+ protocol (Bain et al., Dev Biol 168:342-57, 1995). RT-PCR demonstrated expression of receptors for neurotrophins and GDNF family ligands in ES neural lineage cells. Neuronal expression of GFRalpha1, GFRalpha2, and ret was confirmed by immunocytochemistry. Exposure to 30-100 ng/ml GDNF or neurturin (NRTN) resulted in activation of ret. Addition of NT-3 and GDNF did not increase cell division but did increase the number of neurons in the cultures 7 days after plating. Pretreatment with NT-3 enhanced the vulnerability of ES neurons to NMDA-induced death (100 microM NMDA for 10 min) and enhanced the NMDA-induced increase in neuronal [Ca2+]i, but did not alter expression of NMDA receptor subunits NR2A or NR2B. In contrast, pretreatment with GDNF reduced the vulnerability of ES neurons to NMDA-induced death while modestly enhancing the NMDA-induced increase in neuronal [Ca2+]i. These findings demonstrate that the response of ES-derived neurons to neurotrophins and GDNF family ligands is largely similar to that of other cultured central neurons.

PMID: 15589513 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Digital Version

LAB PERSONNEL

Christopher Donnelly

Graduate Student
chdonnel@umich.edu

Nicole Gabreski

Graduate Student
ngab@umich.edu

Jennifer Shadrach

Graduate Student
jenshad@umich.edu

Amanda Wehner

Graduate Student
wehneram@umich.edu

Alan Halim

Undergraduate Research Assistant
ashalim@umich.edu

Allison Milen

Undergraduate Research Assistant
amilen@umich.edu

Tommy Vu

Undergraduate Research Assistant
vutommy@umich.edu

Janki Vaghasia

Undergraduate Research Assistant
jankikv@umich.edu

JB

Lab mascot

In memorium

CONTACT

Pierchala Lab
1011 N. University, Room 3218
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
734-763-3394
pierchal@umich.edu