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Dysregulated ERK/MAPK Signaling in RASopathy Animal Model Systems Leads to a Decrease in mTOR Expression and Activation of Translational Machinery

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The RAS/MAPK (RAS/Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase) pathway is a highly conserved, canonical signaling cascade that is highly involved in cellular growth and proliferation as well as cell migration. As such, it plays an important role in development, specifically in development

The RAS/MAPK (RAS/Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase) pathway is a highly conserved, canonical signaling cascade that is highly involved in cellular growth and proliferation as well as cell migration. As such, it plays an important role in development, specifically in development of the nervous system. Activation of ERK is indispensable for the differentiation of Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC) into neuronal precursors (Li z et al, 2006). ERK signaling has also shown to mediate Schwann cell myelination of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) as well as oligodendrocyte proliferation (Newbern et al, 2011). The class of developmental disorders that result in the dysregulation of RAS signaling are known as RASopathies. The molecular and cell-specific consequences of these various pathway mutations remain to be elucidated. While there is evidence for altered DNA transcription in RASopathies, there is little work examining the effects of the RASopathy-linked mutations on protein translation and post-translational modifications in vivo. RASopathies have phenotypic and molecular similarities to other disorders such as Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) and Tuberous Sclerosis (TSC) that show evidence of aberrant protein synthesis and affect related pathways. There are also well-defined downstream RAS pathway elements involved in translation. Additionally, aberrant corticospinal axon outgrowth has been observed in disease models of RASopathies (Xing et al, 2016). For these reasons, this present study examines a subset of proteins involved in translation and translational regulation in the context of RASopathy disease states. Results indicate that in both of the tested RASopathy model systems, there is altered mTOR expression. Additionally the loss of function model showed a decrease in rps6 activation. This data supports a role for the selective dysregulation of translational control elements in RASopathy models. This data also indicates that the primary candidate mechanism for control of altered translation in these modes is through the altered expression of mTOR.

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2017-05

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Traumatic brain injury induces rapid enhancement of cortical excitability in juvenile rats

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Following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) 5-50% of patients will develop post traumatic epilepsy (PTE). Pediatric patients are most susceptible with the highest incidence of PTE. Currently, we cannot prevent the development of PTE and knowledge of basic

Following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) 5-50% of patients will develop post traumatic epilepsy (PTE). Pediatric patients are most susceptible with the highest incidence of PTE. Currently, we cannot prevent the development of PTE and knowledge of basic mechanisms are unknown. This has led to several shortcomings to the treatment of PTE, one of which is the use of anticonvulsant medication to the population of TBI patients that are not likely to develop PTE. The complication of identifying the two populations has been hindered by the ability to find a marker to the pathogenesis of PTE. The central hypothesis of this dissertation is that following TBI, the cortex undergoes distinct cellular and synaptic reorganization that facilitates cortical excitability and promotes seizure development. Chapter 2 of this dissertation details excitatory and inhibitory changes in the rat cortex after severe TBI. This dissertation aims to identify cortical changes to a single cell level after severe TBI using whole cell patch clamp and electroencephalogram electrophysiology. The work of this dissertation concluded that excitatory and inhibitory synaptic activity in cortical controlled impact (CCI) animals showed the development of distinct burst discharges that were not present in control animals. The results suggest that CCI induces early "silent" seizures that are detectable on EEG and correlate with changes to the synaptic excitability in the cortex. The synaptic changes and development of burst discharges may play an important role in synchronizing the network and promoting the development of PTE.

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2014

Severe traumatic brain injury induces cortical remodeling in the pediatric inhibitory network

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Pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability in children. When TBI occurs in children it often results in severe cognitive and behavioral deficits. Post-injury, the pediatric brain may be sensitive to the

Pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability in children. When TBI occurs in children it often results in severe cognitive and behavioral deficits. Post-injury, the pediatric brain may be sensitive to the effects of TBI while undergoing a number of age-dependent physiological and neurobiological changes. Due to the nature of the developing cortex, it is important to understand how a pediatric brain recovers from a severe TBI (sTBI) compared to an adult. Investigating major cortical and cellular changes after sTBI in a pediatric model can elucidate why pediatrics go on to suffer more neurological damage than an adult after head trauma. To model pediatric sTBI, I use controlled cortical impact (CCI) in juvenile mice (P22). First, I show that by 14 days after injury, animals begin to show recurrent, non-injury induced, electrographic seizures. Also, using whole-cell patch clamp, layer V pyramidal neurons in the peri-injury area show no changes except single-cell excitatory and inhibitory synaptic bursts. These results demonstrate that CCI induces epileptiform activity and distinct synaptic bursting within 14 days of injury without altering the intrinsic properties of layer V pyramidal neurons. Second, I characterized changes to the cortical inhibitory network and how fast-spiking (FS) interneurons in the peri-injury region function after CCI. I found that there is no loss of interneurons in the injury zone, but a 70% loss of parvalbumin immunoreactivity (PV-IR). FS neurons received less inhibitory input and greater excitatory input. Finally, I show that the cortical interneuron network is also affected in the contralateral motor cortex. The contralateral motor cortex shows a loss of interneurons and loss of PV-IR. Contralateral FS neurons in the motor cortex synaptically showed greater excitatory input and less inhibitory input 14 days after injury. In summary, this work demonstrates that by 14 days after injury, the pediatric cortex develops epileptiform activity likely due to cortical inhibitory network dysfunction. These findings provide novel insight into how pediatric cortical networks function in the injured brain and suggest potential circuit level mechanisms that may contribute to neurological disorders as a result of TBI.

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2015