Yang Hu, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
NMNAT2 Is Downregulated in Glaucomatous RGCs and RGC-Specific Gene Therapy Rescues Neurodegeneration and Visual Function.
Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy
The lack of neuroprotective treatments for retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and optic nerve (ON) is a central challenge for glaucoma management. Emerging evidence suggests that redox factor NAD+ decline is a hallmark of aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Supplementation with NAD+ precursors and overexpression of NMNAT1, the key enzyme in the NAD+ biosynthetic process, have significant neuroprotective effects. We first profile the translatomes of RGCs in naive mice and mice with silicone oil-induced ocular hypertension (SOHU)/glaucoma by RiboTag mRNA sequencing. Intriguingly, only NMNAT2, but not NMNAT1 or NMNAT3, is significantly decreased in SOHU glaucomatous RGCs, which we confirm by in situ hybridization. We next demonstrate that AAV2 intravitreal injection-mediated overexpression of long half-life NMNAT2 mutant driven by RGC-specific mouse gamma-synuclein (mSncg) promoter restores decreased NAD+ levels in glaucomatous RGCs and ONs. Moreover, this RGC-specific gene therapy strategy delivers significant neuroprotection of both RGC soma and axon and preservation of visual function in the traumatic ON crush model and the SOHU glaucoma model. Collectively, our studies suggest that the weakening of NMNAT2 expression in glaucomatous RGCs contributes to a deleterious NAD+ decline and that modulating RGC intrinsic NMNAT2 levels by AAV2-mSncg vector is a promising gene therapy for glaucomatous neurodegeneration.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ymthe.2022.01.035
View details for PubMedID 35114390
mTOR signaling regulates central and peripheral circadian clock function
2018; 14 (5): e1007369
The circadian clock coordinates physiology and metabolism. mTOR (mammalian/mechanistic target of rapamycin) is a major intracellular sensor that integrates nutrient and energy status to regulate protein synthesis, metabolism, and cell growth. Previous studies have identified a key role for mTOR in regulating photic entrainment and synchrony of the central circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Given that mTOR activities exhibit robust circadian oscillations in a variety of tissues and cells including the SCN, here we continued to investigate the role of mTOR in orchestrating autonomous clock functions in central and peripheral circadian oscillators. Using a combination of genetic and pharmacological approaches we show that mTOR regulates intrinsic clock properties including period and amplitude. In peripheral clock models of hepatocytes and adipocytes, mTOR inhibition lengthens period and dampens amplitude, whereas mTOR activation shortens period and augments amplitude. Constitutive activation of mTOR in Tsc2-/-fibroblasts elevates levels of core clock proteins, including CRY1, BMAL1 and CLOCK. Serum stimulation induces CRY1 upregulation in fibroblasts in an mTOR-dependent but Bmal1- and Period-independent manner. Consistent with results from cellular clock models, mTOR perturbation also regulates period and amplitude in the ex vivo SCN and liver clocks. Further, mTOR heterozygous mice show lengthened circadian period of locomotor activity in both constant darkness and constant light. Together, these results support a significant role for mTOR in circadian timekeeping and in linking metabolic states to circadian clock functions.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007369
View details for Web of Science ID 000434016500019
View details for PubMedID 29750810
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5965903