Profiling Basal Forebrain Cholinergic Neurons Reveals a Molecular Basis for Vulnerability Within the Ts65Dn Model of Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease

Melissa J. Alldred, Sai C. Penikalapati, Sang Han Lee, Adriana Heguy, Panos Roussos, Stephen D. Ginsberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Basal forebrain cholinergic neuron (BFCN) degeneration is a hallmark of Down syndrome (DS) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Current therapeutics have been unsuccessful in slowing disease progression, likely due to complex pathological interactions and dysregulated pathways that are poorly understood. The Ts65Dn trisomic mouse model recapitulates both cognitive and morphological deficits of DS and AD, including BFCN degeneration. We utilized Ts65Dn mice to understand mechanisms underlying BFCN degeneration to identify novel targets for therapeutic intervention. We performed high-throughput, single population RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to interrogate transcriptomic changes within medial septal nucleus (MSN) BFCNs, using laser capture microdissection to individually isolate ~500 choline acetyltransferase-immunopositive neurons in Ts65Dn and normal disomic (2N) mice at 6 months of age (MO). Ts65Dn mice had unique MSN BFCN transcriptomic profiles at ~6 MO clearly differentiating them from 2N mice. Leveraging Ingenuity Pathway Analysis and KEGG analysis, we linked differentially expressed gene (DEG) changes within MSN BFCNs to several canonical pathways and aberrant physiological functions. The dysregulated transcriptomic profile of trisomic BFCNs provides key information underscoring selective vulnerability within the septohippocampal circuit. We propose both expected and novel therapeutic targets for DS and AD, including specific DEGs within cholinergic, glutamatergic, GABAergic, and neurotrophin pathways, as well as select targets for repairing oxidative phosphorylation status in neurons. We demonstrate and validate this interrogative quantitative bioinformatic analysis of a key dysregulated neuronal population linking single population transcript changes to an established pathological hallmark associated with cognitive decline for therapeutic development in human DS and AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5141-5162
Number of pages22
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Volume58
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Bioinformatics
  • Down syndrome
  • Medial septum
  • RNA-seq
  • Selective vulnerability

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