Crosstalk between Notch and Sonic hedgehog signaling in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

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Abstract

The developmental morphogen Sonic hedgehog (Shh) may continue to play a sustaining role in adult motor neurons, of potential relevance to motor neuron diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The Shh signaling pathway is incompletely understood and interactions with other signaling pathways are possible. We focus here on Notch, and first show that there is an almost linear reduction in light output from a Gli reporter in Shh Light II cells in the presence of increasing concentrations of the Notch inhibitor DAPT (r2=0.982). Second, in the spinal cord of mutant superoxide dismutase mice, but not control mice, a key marker of Notch signaling changes with age. Before the onset of clinical signs, the Notch intracellular domain is expressed predominantly in motor neurons, but by 125 days of age, Notch intracellular domain expression is markedly reduced in motor neurons and increased in neighboring astroglia. Third, there is a parallel reduction in Gli protein expression in mutant superoxide dismutase mouse spinal motor neurons, consistent with the observed reduction in Notch signaling and also a redistribution of Gli away from the nucleus. Thus, there is a reduction in motor neuronal Notch signaling and associated changes in Shh signaling, occurring coincidentally with disease expression, that may contribute toward the dysfunction and death of motor neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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