Currently there are no approved vaccines or specific therapies to prevent or treat Zika virus (ZIKV) infection. We interrogated a library of FDA-approved drugs for their ability to block infection of human HuH-7 cells by a newly isolated ZIKV strain (ZIKV MEX_I_7). More than 20 out of 774 tested compounds decreased ZIKV infection in our in vitro screening assay. Selected compounds were further validated for inhibition of ZIKV infection in human cervical, placental and neural stem cell lines, as well as primary human amnion cells. Established anti-flaviviral drugs (e.g., bortezomib and mycophenolic acid) and others that had no previously known anti-viral activity (e.g., daptomycin) were identified as inhibitors of ZIKV infection. Several drugs reduced ZIKV infection across multiple cell types. This study identifies drugs that could be tested in clinical studies of ZIKV infection and provides a resource of small molecules to study ZIKV pathogenesis.
Pluripotent or multipotent stem cells isolated from human embryos or adult central nervous system (CNS) may provide new neurons to ameliorate neural disorders. A major obstacle, however, is that the majority of such cells do not differentiate into neurons when grafted into non-neurogenic areas of the adult CNS. Here we report a new in vitro priming procedure that generates a nearly pure population of neurons from fetal human neural stem cells (hNSCs) transplanted into adult rat CNS. Furthermore, the grafted cells differentiated by acquiring a cholinergic phenotype in a region-specific manner. This technology may advance stem cell-based therapy to replace lost neurons in neural injury or neurodegenerative disorders.
Genome damage and their defective repair have been etiologically linked to degenerating neurons in many subtypes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients; however, the specific mechanisms remain enigmatic. The majority of sporadic ALS patients feature abnormalities in the transactivation response DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43), whose nucleo-cytoplasmic mislocalization is characteristically observed in spinal motor neurons. While emerging evidence suggests involvement of other RNA/DNA binding proteins, like FUS in DNA damage response (DDR), the role of TDP-43 in DDR has not been investigated. Here, we report that TDP-43 is a critical component of the nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ)-mediated DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair pathway. TDP-43 is rapidly recruited at DSB sites to stably interact with DDR and NHEJ factors, specifically acting as a scaffold for the recruitment of break-sealing XRCC4-DNA ligase 4 complex at DSB sites in induced pluripotent stem cell-derived motor neurons. shRNA or CRISPR/Cas9-mediated conditional depletion of TDP-43 markedly increases accumulation of genomic DSBs by impairing NHEJ repair, and thereby, sensitizing neurons to DSB stress. Finally, TDP-43 pathology strongly correlates with DSB repair defects, and damage accumulation in the neuronal genomes of sporadic ALS patients and inCaenorhabditis elegansmutant with TDP-1 loss-of-function. Our findings thus link TDP-43 pathology to impaired DSB repair and persistent DDR signaling in motor neuron disease, and suggest that DSB repair-targeted therapies may ameliorate TDP-43 toxicity-induced genome instability in motor neuron disease.
SummaryZika virus (ZIKV) infection causes microcephaly in a subset of infants born to infected pregnant mothers. It is unknown whether human individual differences contribute to differential susceptibility of ZIKV-related neuropathology. Here, we use an Asian-lineage ZIKV strain, isolated from the 2015 Mexican outbreak (Mex1-7), to infect primary human neural stem cells (hNSCs) originally derived from three individual fetal brains. All three strains of hNSCs exhibited similar rates of Mex1-7 infection and reduced proliferation. However, Mex1-7 decreased neuronal differentiation in only two of the three stem cell strains. Correspondingly, ZIKA-mediated transcriptome alterations were similar in these two strains but significantly different from that of the third strain with no ZIKV-induced neuronal reduction. This study thus confirms that an Asian-lineage ZIKV strain infects primary hNSCs and demonstrates a cell-strain-dependent response of hNSCs to ZIKV infection.
Stroke and spinal cord or brain injury often result in cavity formation. Stem cell transplantation in combination with tissue engineering has the potential to fill such a cavity and replace lost neurons. Several hydrogels containing unique features particularly suitable for the delicate nervous system were tested by determining whether these materials were compatible with fetal human neural stem cells (hNSCs) in terms of toxicity and ability to support stem cell differentiation in vitro. The hydrogels examined were pluronic F127 (PF127), Matrigel and PuraMatrix. We found that PF127, in a gelated (30%) form, was toxic to hNSCs, and Matrigel, in a gelated (1-50%) form, prevented hNSCs' normal capacity for neuronal differentiation. In contrast, PuraMatrix was the most optimal hydrogel for hNSCs, since it showed low toxicity when gelated (0.25%) and retained several crucial properties of hNSCs, including migration and neuronal differentiation. Further optimization and characterization of PuraMatrix is warranted to explore its full potential in assisting neural regeneration in vivo.
Human fetal neural stem cells (hNSCs) can be expanded in vitro by mitogens or growth factors, such as basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), and/or leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). Their effects on proliferation rate and differentiation pattern of hNSCs, however, have not been fully characterized. In this study, we cultured hNSCs in seven regimens, including bFGF, EGF, and LIF, either alone or in combinations. Cells were maintained as neurospheres in treatment media for various periods, up to six passages. A combination of bFGF, EGF, and LIF expanded hNSCs more efficiently than any other treatment as determined by counting total cell numbers using a trypan blue exclusion assay, a WST-1 cell viability assay, and a bromodeoxyuridine incorporation flow cytometric analysis. Differentiation patterns of hNSCs expanded under different conditions were also analyzed. We reported previously that hNSCs primed in vitro with a combination of bFGF, heparin, and laminin (FHL) induced neuronal differentiation toward a cholinergic phenotype. In this study, we show that the FHL priming increases neuronal differentiation while decreasing astroglial generation in all treatment groups as determined by immunostaining. However, cells proliferated under different growth factor conditions do vary in their phenotypic differentiation patterns. Particularly, significant generation of cholinergic cells was observed only in hNSCs expanded with EGF/bFGF or EGF/bFGF/LIF, but not with other treatment regimens, even when they are exposed to the same priming procedure. Our results indicate that hNSCs are highly plastic, with their proliferation and differentiation potential dependent on different growth factor treatments.
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