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Special Issue "Studies of Motor Molecules"

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A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2011)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Catherine Krull (Website)

Biologic and Materials Sciences, University of Michigan, 5211 Dental, 1011 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
Phone: 734 764-5441

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The advent of discussing motor molecules has made this special issue possible; not only WHAT they do but HOW they do it, whether it is forming specific groups of motor neurons or axon pathfinding. We will get down to the nitty-gritty, so to say, and figure out how these motor molecules influence other signaling molecules in the cell or the cytoskeleton. Using many animal models, we have assembled this special issue that focuses on the use of motor molecules. Perhaps most importantly, we will also focus on diseases of motor neurons and their axons. Overall, we expect this special issue on motor molecules to develop your critical insights into this important problem: how molecules are used to form groupings of motor neurons and how molecules influence axons of motor neurons as they are guided to their target regions!

Prof. Dr. Catherine Krull
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • motor neurons
  • molecular cues
  • axons
  • animal models
  • neurological disease
  • imaging

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Differential Motor Neuron Impairment and Axonal Regeneration in Sporadic and Familiar Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis with SOD-1 Mutations: Lessons from Neurophysiology
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2011, 12(12), 9203-9215; doi:10.3390/ijms12129203
Received: 9 October 2011 / Revised: 11 November 2011 / Accepted: 29 November 2011 / Published: 9 December 2011
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Abstract
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a degenerative disorder of the motor system. About 10% of cases are familial and 20% of these families have point mutations in the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD-1) gene. SOD-1 catalyses the superoxide radical (O2 [...] Read more.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a degenerative disorder of the motor system. About 10% of cases are familial and 20% of these families have point mutations in the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD-1) gene. SOD-1 catalyses the superoxide radical (O2) into hydrogen peroxide and molecular oxygen. The clinical neurophysiology in ALS plays a fundamental role in differential diagnosis between the familial and sporadic forms and in the assessment of its severity and progression. Sixty ALS patients (34 males; 26 females) were enrolled in the study and examined basally (T0) and every 4 months (T1, T2, and T3). Fifteen of these patients are SOD-1 symptomatic mutation carriers (nine males, six females). We used Macro-EMG and Motor Unit Number Estimation (MUNE) in order to evaluate the neuronal loss and the re-innervation process at the onset of disease and during follow-up period. Results and Discussion: SOD-1 mutation carriers have a higher number of motor units at the moment of diagnosis when compared with the sporadic form, despite a more dramatic drop in later stages. Moreover, in familiar SOD-1 ALS there is not a specific time interval in which the axonal regeneration can balance the neuronal damage. Taken together, these results strengthen the idea of a different pathogenetic mechanism at the base of sALS and fALS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies of Motor Molecules)
Open AccessArticle Knockdown of Ephrin-A5 Expression by 40% Does not Affect Motor Axon Growth or Migration into the Chick Hindlimb
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2011, 12(12), 8362-8371; doi:10.3390/ijms12128362
Received: 20 October 2011 / Revised: 9 November 2011 / Accepted: 11 November 2011 / Published: 29 November 2011
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1453 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Bidirectional signaling between Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their cell-surface protein signals, the ephrins, comprises one mechanism for guiding motor axons to their proper targets. During projection of motor axons from the lateral motor column (LMC) motor neurons of the spinal cord [...] Read more.
Bidirectional signaling between Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their cell-surface protein signals, the ephrins, comprises one mechanism for guiding motor axons to their proper targets. During projection of motor axons from the lateral motor column (LMC) motor neurons of the spinal cord to the hindlimb muscles in chick embryos, ephrin-A5 has been shown to be expressed in the LMC motor axons until they reach the base of the limb bud and initiate sorting into their presumptive dorsal and ventral nerve trunks, at which point expression is extinguished. We tested the hypothesis that this dynamic pattern of ephrin-A5 expression in LMC motor axons is important for the growth and guidance of the axons to, and into, the hindlimb by knocking down endogenous ephrin-A5 expression in the motor neurons and their axons. No perturbation of LMC motor axon projections was observed in response to this treatment, suggesting that ephrin-A5 is not needed for LMC motor axon growth or guidance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies of Motor Molecules)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Fragment C of Tetanus Toxin: New Insights into Its Neuronal Signaling Pathway
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2012, 13(6), 6883-6901; doi:10.3390/ijms13066883
Received: 28 March 2012 / Revised: 8 May 2012 / Accepted: 23 May 2012 / Published: 7 June 2012
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (4043 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
When Clostridium tetani was discovered and identified as a Gram-positive anaerobic bacterium of the genus Clostridium, the possibility of turning its toxin into a valuable biological carrier to ameliorate neurodegenerative processes was inconceivable. However, the non-toxic carboxy-terminal fragment of the tetanus [...] Read more.
When Clostridium tetani was discovered and identified as a Gram-positive anaerobic bacterium of the genus Clostridium, the possibility of turning its toxin into a valuable biological carrier to ameliorate neurodegenerative processes was inconceivable. However, the non-toxic carboxy-terminal fragment of the tetanus toxin heavy chain (fragment C) can be retrogradely transported to the central nervous system; therefore, fragment C has been used as a valuable biological carrier of neurotrophic factors to ameliorate neurodegenerative processes. More recently, the neuroprotective properties of fragment C have also been described in vitro and in vivo, involving the activation of Akt kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling cascades through neurotrophin tyrosine kinase (Trk) receptors. Although the precise mechanism of the molecular internalization of fragment C in neuronal cells remains unknown, fragment C could be internalized and translocated into the neuronal cytosol through a clathrin-mediated pathway dependent on proteins, such as dynamin and AP-2. In this review, the origins, molecular properties and possible signaling pathways of fragment C are reviewed to understand the biochemical characteristics of its intracellular and synaptic transport. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies of Motor Molecules)
Figures

Open AccessReview Molecular Motor Proteins and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2011, 12(12), 9057-9082; doi:10.3390/ijms12129057
Received: 11 October 2011 / Revised: 28 November 2011 / Accepted: 30 November 2011 / Published: 7 December 2011
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (228 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting motor neurons in the brain, brainstem and spinal cord, which is characterized by motor dysfunction, muscle dystrophy and progressive paralysis. Both inherited and sporadic forms of ALS share common pathological features, however, the [...] Read more.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting motor neurons in the brain, brainstem and spinal cord, which is characterized by motor dysfunction, muscle dystrophy and progressive paralysis. Both inherited and sporadic forms of ALS share common pathological features, however, the initial trigger of neurodegeneration remains unknown. Motor neurons are uniquely targeted by ubiquitously expressed proteins in ALS but the reason for this selectively vulnerability is unclear. However motor neurons have unique characteristics such as very long axons, large cell bodies and high energetic metabolism, therefore placing high demands on cellular transport processes. Defects in cellular trafficking are now widely reported in ALS, including dysfunction to the molecular motors dynein and kinesin. Abnormalities to dynein in particular are linked to ALS, and defects in dynein-mediated axonal transport processes have been reported as one of the earliest pathologies in transgenic SOD1 mice. Furthermore, dynein is very highly expressed in neurons and neurons are particularly sensitive to dynein dysfunction. Hence, unravelling cellular transport processes mediated by molecular motor proteins may help shed light on motor neuron loss in ALS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies of Motor Molecules)
Open AccessReview Crossing the Border: Molecular Control of Motor Axon Exit
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2011, 12(12), 8539-8561; doi:10.3390/ijms12128539
Received: 17 October 2011 / Revised: 5 November 2011 / Accepted: 8 November 2011 / Published: 29 November 2011
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (1101 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Living organisms heavily rely on the function of motor circuits for their survival and for adapting to ever-changing environments. Unique among central nervous system (CNS) neurons, motor neurons (MNs) project their axons out of the CNS. Once in the periphery, motor axons [...] Read more.
Living organisms heavily rely on the function of motor circuits for their survival and for adapting to ever-changing environments. Unique among central nervous system (CNS) neurons, motor neurons (MNs) project their axons out of the CNS. Once in the periphery, motor axons navigate along highly stereotyped trajectories, often at considerable distances from their cell bodies, to innervate appropriate muscle targets. A key decision made by pathfinding motor axons is whether to exit the CNS through dorsal or ventral motor exit points (MEPs). In contrast to the major advances made in understanding the mechanisms that regulate the specification of MN subtypes and the innervation of limb muscles, remarkably little is known about how MN axons project out of the CNS. Nevertheless, a limited number of studies, mainly in Drosophila, have identified transcription factors, and in some cases candidate downstream effector molecules, that are required for motor axons to exit the spinal cord. Notably, specialized neural crest cell derivatives, referred to as Boundary Cap (BC) cells, pre-figure and demarcate MEPs in vertebrates. Surprisingly, however, BC cells are not required for MN axon exit, but rather restrict MN cell bodies from ectopically migrating along their axons out of the CNS. Here, we describe the small set of studies that have addressed motor axon exit in Drosophila and vertebrates, and discuss our fragmentary knowledge of the mechanisms, which guide motor axons out of the CNS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies of Motor Molecules)
Figures

Open AccessReview Protein Misdirection Inside and Outside Motor Neurons in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): A Possible Clue for Therapeutic Strategies
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2011, 12(10), 6980-7003; doi:10.3390/ijms12106980
Received: 28 September 2011 / Revised: 9 October 2011 / Accepted: 11 October 2011 / Published: 19 October 2011
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (576 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive muscle wasting and weakness with no effective cure. Emerging evidence supports the notion that the abnormal conformations of ALS-linked proteins play a central role in triggering the motor neuron degeneration. [...] Read more.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive muscle wasting and weakness with no effective cure. Emerging evidence supports the notion that the abnormal conformations of ALS-linked proteins play a central role in triggering the motor neuron degeneration. In particular, mutant types of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) and TAR DNA binding protein 43kDa (TDP-43) are key molecules involved in the pathogenesis of familial and sporadic ALS, respectively. The commonalities of the two proteins include a propensity to aggregate and acquire detrimental conformations through oligomerization, fragmentation, or post-translational modification that may drive abnormal subcellular localizations. Although SOD1 is a major cytosolic protein, mutated SOD1 has been localized to mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and even the extracellular space. The nuclear exclusion of TDP-43 is a pathological hallmark for ALS, although the pathogenic priority remains elusive. Nevertheless, these abnormal behaviors based on the protein misfolding are believed to induce diverse intracellular and extracellular events that may be tightly linked to non-cell-autonomous motor neuron death. The generation of mutant- or misfolded protein-specific antibodies would help to uncover the distribution and propagation of the ALS-linked proteins, and to design a therapeutic strategy to clear such species. Herein we review the literature regarding the mislocalization of ALS-linked proteins, especially mutant SOD1 and TDP-43 species, and discuss the rationale of molecular targeting strategies including immunotherapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies of Motor Molecules)

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