Insight
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Publications in Neuron by NOMIS researchers

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

November 2, 2022

In the central nervous system (CNS), microglia carry out multiple tasks related to brain development, maintenance of brain homeostasis, and function of the CNS. Recent advanced in vitro model systems allow us to perform more detailed and specific analyses of microglial functions in the CNS. The development of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs)-based 2D and 3D cell culture methods, particularly advancements in brain organoid models, offers a better platform to dissect microglial function in various contexts. Despite the improvement of these methods, there are still definite restrictions. Understanding their drawbacks and benefits ensures their proper use. In this primer, we review current developments regarding in vitro microglial production and characterization and their use to address fundamental questions about microglial function in healthy and diseased states, and we discuss potential future improvements with a particular emphasis on brain organoid models.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Neurology & Neurosurgery

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

March 2, 2022

Hippocampal place cells underlie spatial navigation and memory. Remarkably, CA1 pyramidal neurons can form new place fields within a single trial by undergoing rapid plasticity. However, local feedback circuits likely restrict the rapid recruitment of individual neurons into ensemble representations. This interaction between circuit dynamics and rapid feature coding remains unexplored. Here, we developed “all-optical” approaches combining novel optogenetic induction of rapidly forming place fields with 2-photon activity imaging during spatial navigation in mice. We find that induction efficacy depends strongly on the density of co-activated neurons. Place fields can be reliably induced in single cells, but induction fails during co-activation of larger subpopulations due to local circuit constraints imposed by recurrent inhibition. Temporary relief of local inhibition permits the simultaneous induction of place fields in larger ensembles. We demonstrate the behavioral implications of these dynamics, showing that our ensemble place field induction protocol can enhance subsequent spatial association learning.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Neurology & Neurosurgery

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

April 21, 2021

TREM2 variants increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In this issue of Neuron, Lee et al. demonstrate that TREM2-dependent microglial functions prevent accumulation and spreading of tau, but only in the presence of amyloid pathology. This provides additional fuel for the amyloid cascade hypothesis and supports a protective function of microglia.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Neurology & Neurosurgery

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 17, 2020

In recent years, the nuclear pore complex (NPC) has emerged as a key player in genome regulation and cellular homeostasis. New discoveries have revealed that the NPC has multiple cellular functions besides mediating the molecular exchange between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. In this review, we discuss non-transport aspects of the NPC focusing on the NPC-genome interaction, the extreme longevity of the NPC proteins, and NPC dysfunction in age-related diseases. The examples summarized herein demonstrate that the NPC, which first evolved to enable the biochemical communication between the nucleus and the cytoplasm, now doubles as the gatekeeper of cellular identity and aging. Cho and Hetzer discuss recent studies that have established the nuclear pore complex as a key regulator of transcription control of cell identity genes and have linked its functional decline to premature, physiological, and pathological aging.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Neurology & Neurosurgery

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

December 9, 2019

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is currently untreatable, and therapeutic strategies aimed to slow cognitive decline have not yet been successful. Many of these approaches have targeted the amyloid cascade, indicating that novel treatment strategies are required. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified a number of risk factors in genes expressed in microglia, underscoring their therapeutic potential in neurodegeneration. In this review, we discuss how the recently defined functions of these AD risk genes can be targeted therapeutically to modulate microglial cell state and slow the progression of AD. Antibody-mediated stimulation of the triggering receptor of myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) is on the forefront of these candidate therapeutic approaches based on a combination of compelling human genetics and emerging preclinical data. This and other approaches to modify microglial function are a topic of intensive study and provide an opportunity for innovative AD treatments, which may be applied alone or potentially in combination with classical anti-amyloid therapies.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Neurology & Neurosurgery

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

April 17, 2019

TDP-43 aggregation is the major hallmark of multiple neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS and FTD. Gasset-Rosa et al. demonstrate that transient stress induces long-lasting cytoplasmic TDP-43 de-mixing independent of stress granules, driving nuclear import defects, nuclear TDP-43 clearance, and cell death.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Neurology & Neurosurgery

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

January 16, 2019

Microglia are increasingly recognized for their major contributions during brain development and neurodegenerative disease. It is currently unknown whether these functions are carried out by subsets of microglia during different stages of development and adulthood or within specific brain regions. Here, we performed deep single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) of microglia and related myeloid cells sorted from various regions of embryonic, early postnatal, and adult mouse brains. We found that the majority of adult microglia expressing homeostatic genes are remarkably similar in transcriptomes, regardless of brain region. By contrast, early postnatal microglia are more heterogeneous. We discovered a proliferative-region-associated microglia (PAM) subset, mainly found in developing white matter, that shares a characteristic gene signature with degenerative disease-associated microglia (DAM). Such PAM have amoeboid morphology, are metabolically active, and phagocytose newly formed oligodendrocytes. This scRNA-seq atlas will be a valuable resource for dissecting innate immune functions in health and disease.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Neurology & Neurosurgery

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

May 17, 2017

The successful planning and execution of adaptive behaviors in mammals may require long-range coordination of neural networks throughout cerebral cortex. The neuronal implementation of signals that could orchestrate cortex-wide activity remains unclear. Here, we develop and apply methods for cortex-wide Ca2+ imaging in mice performing decision-making behavior and identify a global cortical representation of task engagement encoded in the activity dynamics of both single cells and superficial neuropil distributed across the majority of dorsal cortex. The activity of multiple molecularly defined cell types was found to reflect this representation with type-specific dynamics. Focal optogenetic inhibition tiled across cortex revealed a crucial role for frontal cortex in triggering this cortex-wide phenomenon; local inhibition of this region blocked both the cortex-wide response to task-initiating cues and the voluntary behavior. These findings reveal cell-type-specific processes in cortex for globally representing goal-directed behavior and identify a major cortical node that gates the global broadcast of task-related information.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Neurology & Neurosurgery