- Open Access
Golgi fragmentation precedes neuromuscular denervation and is associated with endosome abnormalities in SOD1-ALS mouse motor neurons
- Vera van Dis†1,
- Marijn Kuijpers†1, 2,
- Elize D Haasdijk1,
- Eva Teuling1,
- Scott A Oakes3,
- Casper C Hoogenraad1, 2 and
- Dick Jaarsma1Email author
© van Dis et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014
- Received: 7 February 2014
- Accepted: 2 April 2014
- Published: 7 April 2014
Fragmentation of stacked cisterns of the Golgi apparatus into dispersed smaller elements is a feature associated with degeneration of neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and some other neurodegenerative disorders. However, the role of Golgi fragmentation in motor neuron degeneration is not well understood.
Here we use a SOD1-ALS mouse model (low-copy Gurney G93A-SOD1 mouse) to show that motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation are retrogradely labeled by intramuscularly injected CTB (beta subunit of cholera toxin), indicating that Golgi fragmentation precedes neuromuscular denervation and axon retraction. We further show that Golgi fragmentation may occur in the absence of and precede two other pathological markers, i.e. somatodendritic SOD1 inclusions, and the induction of ATF3 expression. In addition, we show that Golgi fragmentation is associated with an altered dendritic organization of the Golgi apparatus, does not depend on intact apoptotic machinery, and is facilitated in transgenic mice with impaired retrograde dynein-dependent transport (BICD2-N mice). A connection to altered dynein-dependent transport also is suggested by reduced expression of endosomal markers in neurons with Golgi fragmentation, which also occurs in neurons with impaired dynein function.
Together the data indicate that Golgi fragmentation is a very early event in the pathological cascade in ALS that is associated with altered organization of intracellular trafficking.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Protein aggregation
- Endosome trafficking
- Transgenic mouse model
Death and disappearance of neurons is a constant hallmark of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and other dementia's, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). A large body of evidence indicates that protein aggregation and proteotoxicity are central early pathogenic steps in these disorders, but how these events ultimately result in neuronal malfunction and degeneration is yet poorly established for most disorders [1, 2]. Various mechanisms involving improper function of specific organelles, in particular mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), or disrupted function of cellular processes such as protein quality control, intracellular trafficking, cell death signaling, synaptic signaling or calcium homeostasis have been proposed to contribute to neuronal degeneration [2–5]. Neuropathological studies have also revealed abnormalities in the Golgi apparatus in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases [6–8]. The Golgi apparatus is a highly dynamic organelle involved in processing and sorting of lipids and proteins. Its morphology depends on a large variety of protein components and cellular processes [9–13]. Accordingly, Golgi morphology can alter under a variety of physiological conditions such as cell division, growth, and altered metabolic demands , as well as pathological conditions, including impaired ER function, disruption of intracellular transport, altered lipid metabolism, excessive excitation, DNA damage, and activation of cell death pathways [6, 14–19].
Golgi fragmentation is a frequent feature in motor neurons of ALS patients, where it may occur in 10-50% of motor neurons in sporadic and SOD1-ALS patients [6, 20, 21] and up to 70% of the motor neurons in some patients with familial ALS and ALS-like disorders [22, 23]. The occurrence of Golgi fragmentation correlates with nuclear-to-cytoplasmic redistribution of TDP-43 and the presence of TDP-43 positive inclusions in sporadic ALS motor neurons . Golgi fragmentation also correlates with the presence of inclusions in other ALS forms including optineurin-ALS and SOD1-ALS [21–23], but its role in motor neuron degeneration is not understood.
Golgi fragmentation also occurs in transgenic ALS rodent models [25–27]. It has been identified as an early feature in motor neurons in transgenic mice that express human SOD1 with an ALS-linked mutation and develop an ALS like motor neuron disorder [27–29]. To further understand the pathological significance of Golgi fragmentation in ALS, in the present study we have precisely characterized the relationship between Golgi fragmentation and other early pathological events in the SOD1-ALS mouse model. Our data show that Golgi fragmentation precedes the appearance of somatodendritic SOD1 inclusions, activation of the injury transcription factor ATF3, neuromuscular denervation and axon retraction. We further show that Golgi fragmentation also occurs in the absence of a functional mitochondrial apoptotic pathway, is greatly facilitated in neurons with impaired dynein function and is associated with endosomal abnormalities. These data suggest that Golgi fragmentation reflects altered organization of intracellular trafficking, perhaps in response to specific aggregated SOD1 complexes.
All animal experiments were approved by the Erasmus University animal care committee, and performed in accordance with the guidelines the "Principles of laboratory animal care" (NIH publication No. 86–23), and the European Community Council Directive (86/609/EEC). Transgenic mice expressing a human genomic SOD1 construct with the G93A mutation were originally derived from the Gurney G1 mice, but because of a reduction in the transgene copy number (8 instead of ~20 transgene copy numbers per haploid genome) show a delayed disease onset and are termed G1del mice [30–32]. G1del mice are maintained under standard housing conditions in a FVB/N background by mating hemizygote males with non-transgenic females, non-transgenic offspring serving as controls .
Neuron-specific mice carrying the cDNA of G93A-mutant hSOD1 cloned into the Thy1.2 expression cassette were generated as described . In this study we used tissue from T3hSOD1 double transgenic mice generated by crossing Thy1hSOD1-G93A mice derived from founder T3 with line N1029 wild-type hSOD1 overexpressing mice .
BICD2-N (line BN1) mice are transgenic for a construct expressing the N-terminus of Bicaudal D2 coupled to GFP (GFP-BICD2-N) and cloned into the Thy1.2 expression vector . BN1/G1del mice were obtained by intercrossing hemizygous G1del and BN1 mice as described . In this study we analyzed Golgi fragmentation in spinal cord sections from G1del, G1del/BN1 and BN1 killed at 28 weeks of age with 4–6 mice per genotype. Both G1 del and G1del/N1 mice showed mild-to-moderate muscle weakness of hind limb function.
For one experiment we used paraffin embedded spinal cord tissue from 90 days old high copy (fast) G1 mice (carrying ~20 hSOD1-G93A transgene copy numbers, see above) crossed with mice deficient for the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway in the central nervous system, termed DKO mice. DKO mice were Bak-null in the whole body (Bak -/- ) and Bax-null in the central nervous system (Bax f/f /Nestin-Cr e; see  for details). We analyzed archival sections from 3 mice per genotype (non-tg, DKO, G1del, G1del/DKO).
Primary antibodies (supplier; dilutions) used in this study are:
Rabbit anti-ATF3 (Santa Cruz; IHC and IF 1:1000), goat-anti-choline acetyltransferase (ChAT, Millipore, 1:500), goat anti-Cholera toxin B subunit (CTB; List Biological laboratories, 1:5000), rabbit-anti-CGRP (Calbiochem, IF, 1:10.000), human-anti EEA1 (gift from Dr. M.J. Fritzler, IF: 1:500 ), mouse-anti GM130 (BD Biosciences, 1:200), rabbit-anti GM130 (antibody M07, gift from Dr. M. Lowe , 1:1000), mouse anti GRASP65 (gift from Dr. M. Lowe , 1:200), rabbit-anti-GRASP-1 (Millipore, 1:500), rat anti-Mac-2 (Cedarlane, 1:2000), mouse-anti p115 (BD Biosciences, 1:500), sheep anti-hSOD1 (Calbiochem; IF, 1:5000), rabbit-anti unfolded SOD1 (USOD, gift from Dr. A. Chakrabartty , 1:1000), rabbit anti-SOD1 exposed dimer interface (SEDI, gift from Dr. J. Robertson , 1:1000), mouse anti-ubiquitin (clone FK2; Affinity BioReagents, Golden, CO; 1:2000, rabbit anti-ubiquitin (DAKO, 1:1000).
Secondary antibodies used for IF or ICC were Alexa-488, -568 or -633- conjugated goat-anti mouse or goat-anti rabbit antibodies from Molecular Probes; or FITC, Cy3 or Cy5 donkey-anti-rabbit, donkey-mouse or donkey-goat antibodies from Jackson Laboratories; all antibodies were used at 1:400. Biotinylated goat-anti-rabbit or anti-mouse IgG (Vector) were used at 1:400.
Immunocytochemical and histochemical analyses
For immunocytochemistry and immunofluorescence, mice were anaesthetized with pentobarbital and perfused transcardially with 4% paraformaldehyde with or without glutaraldehyde (0.05%). The lumbar and cervical spinal cord were carefully dissected out and postfixed overnight in 4% paraformaldehyde. Routinely, spinal cord tissue was embedded in gelatin blocks , sectioned at 40 μm with a freezing microtome, and sections were processed, free-floating, using a standard avidin–biotin–immunoperoxidase complex method (ABC, Vector Laboratories, USA) with diaminobenzidine (DAB, 0.05%) as the chromogen, or single-, double- and triple-labelling immunofluorescence. Immunoperoxidase-stained sections were analysed and photographed using a Leica DM-RB microscope and a Leica DC300 digital camera. Sections stained for immunofluorescence were analyzed with a Leica DM-RB epifluorescence microscope and Zeiss LSM 510 and LSM700 confocal laser scanning microscopes.
Cholera toxin B-fragment (CTB) retrograde tracing
Quantitative analysis of immunofluorescence images
The proportion of CTB and GM130-positive motor neurons was determined in sections from G1del mice of 15 (n = 3) and 20 weeks (n = 3), 4 sections/mouse using a Leica DM-RB epifluorescence microscope with a 63x objective. First, all large neurons (diameter >20 μm) in the ventral horn both ipsi- and contralateral of the injection were scored for Golgi fragmentation, and subsequently using the same sections CTB-positive cells were scored for Golgi fragmentation.
Dendritic GM130 labelling was examined with a Zeiss LSM 510 laser scanning microscope using sections from 20 weeks old G1del mice. CTB-labeled motor neurons were selected for analysis on the basis of the presence of at least 3 dendrites within the plane of section, and with at least 2 of these dendrites having the first branching point in the section. Confocal stacks of CTB and GM130 stacks were collected, and cells were analyzed for the occurrence of Golgi fragmentation and the presence of dendritic GM130 labeling. A total of 24 and 14 motor neurons with normal and fragmented Golgi apparatus, respectively, were analyzed (Additional file 1: Table S1).
For analysis of fluorescence intensities, images were collected using a Zeiss LSM 510 confocal laser scanning microscope with 63x objective. Fluorescence intensities were determined using Metamorph image analysis software.
Statistical analyzes were performed with MS Excel or Graphpad Prism software using Student’s t-test and one-way ANOVA.
Primary neuron cultures and transfection
Primary rat hippocampal neurons were plated at a density of 75.000 on 18 mm glass coverslips and transfected at DIV13 with GFP, GFP-p150-cc, GFP-BICD2-N or GFP-p50 using Lipofectamine-2000 (Qiagen) as described [17, 39]. After 2 days of transfection, neurons were fixed and stained with human anti-EEA1 antibodies. Representative cells were imaged using a Zeiss LSM 510 confocal laser scanning microscope with a x63 oil immersion objective. The number of particles were analyzed using Metamorph software.
Retrograde labeling of motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation after intramuscular injection of cholera toxin B (CTB)
The present study has been mainly performed with G1del mice (also termed G1slow) that carry 8 copies of a human G93A-mutant SOD1 and develop weakness in one or more limbs from age 24–34 weeks of age and die of fatal paralysis between 30–41 weeks of age [29, 32]. The onset of Golgi fragmentation in G1del mice is at about 14–15 weeks of age . In view of evidence that degeneration of the distal axon is an early event in SOD1-ALS mice preceding the loss of motor neurons [40–42], we first examined whether motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation have an intact axon. For this purpose, we performed retrograde tracing of Choleratoxin B (CTB) injected in the gastrocnemic muscle (Figure 1A), and double stained lumbar spinal cord sections for CTB and the cis-Golgi matrix protein GM130 . CTB is taken up via endocytosis after binding to the ganglioside GM1 in motor nerve endings and then retrogradely transported to the cell bodies, where it accumulates in the trans-Golgi, lysosomes, and the cytoplasm [44, 45]. The number of CTB labeled motor neurons was the same as in non-transgenic littermates in G1del mice at 15 and 20 weeks, and was reduced in G1del mice at 25 weeks (Figure 1B), consistent with the onset of motor neuron loss at 25 weeks . CTB labeling was present throughout the soma and dendrites. Typically, motor neurons of G1del mice showed small vacuolar expansions in the distal portion of the dendrites (Figure 1C), reflecting vacuolated mitochondria . A proportion of CTB-positive cells showed Golgi fragmentation (Figure 1D-K). Importantly, the proportion of retrogradely CTB-labeled motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation is the same as the proportion of Golgi fragmented motor neurons in the total population of motor neurons (Figure 1E). This indicates that Golgi fragmentation does not interfere with retrograde labeling.
In CTB positive motor neurons with a normal Golgi apparatus, a proportion of CTB codistributed with GM130, consistent with retrograde trafficking of CTB to the Golgi apparatus (Figure 1D). Accordingly, also in the majority of motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation, CTB codistributed with GM130 (Figure 1F, G). However, in a subset of CTB-positive motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation, CTB poorly codistributed with GM130 (Figure 1H). In these cells, CTB was distributed in large clusters into the cell body, in lysosomes, and diffusely throughout the somato-dendritic compartment (Figure 1H).
We also performed double-labelling of CTB with αCGRP (calcitonin-gene related peptide), a peptide that is present in the trans-Golgi and secretory granules of most large motor neurons . Consistent with the results of GM130-CTB double labelling, the majority of CTB-positive motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation showed codistribution of CTB and CGRP in the Golgi apparatus, while in a small subset of CTB-positive motor neurons with fragmented Golgi apparatus, CTB poorly colocalized with CGRP (Figure 1I). Together, these data indicate that although motor neurons with a fragmented Golgi can take up, retrogradely transport and redistribute the tracer throughout the somatodendritic compartment, a subset of neurons with fragmented Golgi may have compromised retrograde transport to the Golgi apparatus. The data also indicate that motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation may represent different stages of degeneration varying from near-normal cells to cells in a more progressed degenerative state (see below).
A larger proportion of dendrites with Golgi apparatus in motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation
The presence of CTB enabled to easily distinguish the proximal dendrites extending from the motor neurons. A subset of motor neurons in both non-transgenic and G1del mice showed one or more GM130-positive ribbons that entered the proximal dendrite and coursed up to the first branching point (Figure 1J). Also motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation showed Golgi apparatus entering the proximal dendrites. In these cells the dendritic Golgi always was fragmented into smaller elements (Figure 1K). Random sampling of motor neurons with 3 or more proximal dendrites extending from the cell body in the plane of section, indicated that motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation more often showed dendrites with Golgi apparatus (10 of 24 versus 12 of 14 analyzed motor neurons with normal or fragmented Golgi apparatus, respectively; see Additional file 1: Table S1). The mean number of dendrites per sampled cell was the same for cells with or without Golgi fragmentation (3.5 ± 0.14 versus 3.7 ± 0.24 for normal or fragmented Golgi apparatus, respectively; non-significant, unpaired student's t-test; see Additional file 1: Figure S1). Overall, dendritic Golgi apparatus occurred 3 times more often in motor neurons with fragmented Golgi (Additional file 1: Table S1 and Figure S1). These data suggest that motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation show an increased probability of extending the Golgi apparatus in one or more proximal dendrites.
Golgi fragmentation precedes the appearance of ubiquitin-positive inclusions in the cell body of motor neurons
To analyze the relationship between Golgi fragmentation and the accumulation of misfolded SOD1 species, we performed double labeling of GM130 with antibodies against SOD1 dimer interface (SEDI, ) and unfolded beta barrel domain of SOD1 (USOD, ). The USOD antibody mainly stained vacuolated mitochondria in the axon and distal dendrites, and, in addition, produced diffuse staining in the cell bodies of motor neurons and lightly stained ubiquitinated inclusions (not shown). The SEDI antibody, apart from light staining of vacuolated mitochondria and some background staining of astrocytic processes, selectively immunoreacted with the ubiquitinated inclusions (not shown). Similar to ubiquitinated epitopes, the presence of SEDI immunoreactive inclusions in proximal dendrites or cell body in all occasions was associated with Golgi fragmentation (Figure 2D).
To further establish the relationship between Golgi fragmentation and the presence of ubiquitin-positive inclusions, we analyzed Golgi fragmentation in spinal cord section of T3hSOD1 mice that express a relatively low level of G93A mutant SOD1 specifically in neurons and, in addition, ubiquitously express high levels of wild-type SOD1 . T3hSOD1 mice develop signs of muscle weakness starting from 1 year of age, while dendritic ubiquitinated inclusions are already present in a small number of motor neurons at the age of 20 weeks [31, 38]. T3hSOD1 showed fragmented Golgi apparatus in a subset of motor neurons. The number of neurons with fragmented Golgi increased with aging, and a subset of these also showed ubiquitin positive inclusions in the cell body (Figure 2E-G). Importantly, similar to G1del mice, all motor neurons in T3hSOD1 mice with ubiquitin-positive inclusions in the cell body or proximal dendrites showed fragmented Golgi apparatus, while inversely, only a subset of T3hSOD1 motor neurons with fragmented Golgi apparatus show ubiquitin-positive inclusions in the cell body or proximal dendrites.
Golgi fragmentation does not depend on ATF3 expression
Golgi fragmentation in SOD-ALS mice does not depend on apoptotic pathways
Golgi fragmentation in apoptosis may depend on caspase 3 mediated cleavage of several membrane tethering factors involved in the structural organization of the Golgi, in particular GRASP65 and p115 [16, 51, 52]. We therefore examined whether motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation show reduced expression of these proteins. However, there was no evidence for a relative reduction of GRASP65 (not shown) or p115 (Figure 4D) expression in Golgi fragmented motor neurons. Together the data suggest no major role of apoptotic pathways in triggering Golgi fragmentation in G1 mice motor neurons.
Golgi fragmentation is facilitated in SOD1-ALS mice with reduced dynein/dynactin function
Reduced numbers of endosomes in cells with Golgi fragmentation
Reduced levels of endosomes in neurons after inhibition of dynein/dynactin
Golgi fragmentation is a well-established feature of ALS spinal and cortical motor neurons, that also occurs in some other neurodegenerative conditions, is reproduced in SOD1-ALS mice and some cellular ALS models [6, 60], but is not found in degenerating motor neuron in a non-ALS disorder  and non-ALS mouse models . Golgi fragmentation in ALS and ALS mouse models also differs from the large variety of Golgi apparatus morphological abnormalities that we observed in motor neurons of a DNA-repair deficient mouse model . In motor neurons of ALS patients, the presence of Golgi fragmentation correlates with an abnormal TDP-43 distribution or the presence of inclusions, suggesting a relationship between Golgi fragmentation and the presence of protein aggregates [22–24]. Accordingly, here we show in SOD1-ALS mice that Golgi fragmentation occurs in all motor neurons with ubiquitinated SOD1 inclusions. However, a major portion of motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation did not show such inclusions. This can be explained by the presence of inclusions in dendrites that were not in the plane of the section, or small aggregates that are not detectable at the light microscopic level . Alternatively, Golgi fragmentation may be caused by a process upstream of large aggregates, perhaps mediated by toxic misfolded or oligomeric SOD1 species [64, 65]. Using antibodies against misfolded and aggregated SOD1 species (USOD and SEDI, [36, 37]), we did not detect changes that showed a consistent correlation with Golgi fragmentation.
In the present study, we also show that motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation more frequently display Golgi apparatus within the proximal dendrite. Despite the limitations of our analysis, in that we only analyzed the dendrites in the transverse plane, the data indicate that the likelihood for a proximal dendrite showing Golgi apparatus is 3 times higher in cells with Golgi fragmentation. Data from hippocampal neurons indicate that the Golgi apparatus orients toward the longest dendrite, and that the presence of the Golgi apparatus and Golgi outposts (i.e. discrete compartments that are discontinuous with somatic Golgi) into dendrites relates to local secretory demands [9, 66, 67]. Thus the increased presence of Golgi apparatus in dendrites and perhaps also Golgi fragmentation may reflect a reorganization of the secretory pathway in response to increased secretory demands from specific dendrites, e.g. to repair dendritic damage.
Several findings suggest that Golgi fragmentation in SOD1-ALS motor neurons is associated with reorganized or aberrant trafficking: First, fragmentation into ministacks is reminiscent of Golgi fragmentation resulting from impaired dynein-dependent transport [6, 17]. Second, a subset of neurons with Golgi fragmentation, in spite of their ability of take up, retrogradely transport, and redistribute the CTB throughout the somatodendritic compartment, do not show accumulation of CTB in the trans-Golgi, suggestive of impaired endosome to Golgi retrograde trafficking. Third, we show a large increase in Golgi fragmentation in G1del mouse crossed with a mouse model showing impaired dynein/dynactin dependent transport, indicative of a synergistic interaction between the process causing Golgi fragmentation and dynein-dynactin dependent trafficking. Fourth, we show that motor neurons with Golgi fragmentation like motor neurons with impaired dynein/dynactin function show reduced expression of endosomal markers. Of note, the endosomal changes that we observed in motor neurons with impaired dynein/dynactin function are different from those observed in cultured non-neuronal cells with radially oriented microtubules. The differences between neurons and other cells may follow from differences in microtubule organization as well as differences in endosomal functional pathways [68, 69].
Previous data from BICD2-N transgenic mice suggested Golgi fragmentation is not necessarily detrimental . Furthermore, we showed that G1del mice crossed with BICD2-N transgenic mice show increased life span, which combined with the finding of the present study that these mice show increased levels of Golgi fragmentation, suggests that Golgi fragmentation is not detrimental and perhaps reversible in SOD1-ALS mice. A recent study demonstrates reversible Golgi fragmentation in hippocampal neurons cultured in hyperexcitable conditions . Reversible Golgi fragmentation has also been shown to be part of a cytoprotective DNA damage response, where DNA damage protein kinase, DNA-PK, via phosphorylation of the Golgi protein GOLPH3 enhances the interaction between GOLPH3 and the myosin MYO18A and facilitates Golgi vesiculation . The extent to which Golgi fragmentation in ALS motor neurons also is part of a coordinated stress response, that for instance is triggered by the presence of protein aggregates, remains to be established.
Multiple pathological events have been identified in SOD1-ALS mice models, including mitochondrial abnormalities, ER stress, proteotoxic stress, abnormal ion and glutamate homeostasis, abnormal axonal transport, axonal degeneration, and non-cell autonomous toxic events mediated by glial cells, but the relationship between these events, and the extent to which they occur in SOD1-ALS and other ALS patients remains to be established . Golgi fragmentation is a well established feature of ALS motor neurons. In the present study we confirm that Golgi fragmentation is a very early event that precedes ATF3 induction and degeneration of the distal axon, and occurs independently of the activation of apoptosis pathways. These data, for instance, challenge the notion that ALS primarily is a dying back axonopathy as suggested by some studies [40–42].
Together the data indicate that Golgi fragmentation is a very early event in the pathological cascade in ALS that is associated with altered organization of intracellular trafficking. We propose that Golgi fragmentation is an early response to deleterious mechanisms shared by several ALS forms. Further identification of the mechanisms upstream of Golgi fragmentation will provide important insights in ALS pathogenesis.
The authors thank Dr. Janice Robertson (University of Toronto) for providing SEDI and USOD antibody. This work is supported by Prinses Beatrix Spierfonds and Hersenstichting Nederland grants to C.C.H and D.J.
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