Mapping the transcriptome of neuronal JAK/STAT signaling in response to status epilepticus
MetadataShow full item record
Epilepsy, a disease characterized by recurring spontaneous seizures, affects over 65 million people, 2% of the world’s population. Over 30% of patients are refractory to all current medical therapy, and for those that can be treated, many suffer from severe drug side-effects. Understanding the molecular basis of epilepsy is vital to the advancement of better therapeutic options and an eventual cure. Upregulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is highly associated with epileptogenesis in human patients, as well as animal models. Our laboratory discovered that BDNF induces the Janus Kinase/Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (JAK/STAT) pathway in neurons and that inhibition attenuates spontaneous seizures in a temporal lobe epilepsy model. The mechanism behind JAK/STAT signaling in neurons and its relationship to epilepsy still remains to be elucidated and is the subject of my thesis. Surprisingly, even though BDNF is such a major signaling molecule, its full genomic impact has never been assessed. We conducted a high-density RNA-sequencing analysis of the BDNF transcriptome in cortical neurons and probed such regulation with selective JAK inhibitors. Results suggest that 68% of BDNF-induced changes in gene expression implicated in epilepsy are regulated by JAK/STAT signaling. Eighty percent of BDNF-induced changes coding for proteins involved in synaptic neurotransmission (receptor subunits and ion channels) involve JAK/STATs. Additionally, these datasets include genes that have never been associated with BDNF regulation (such as Dopamine Receptor D5 and Galanin Receptor 1). Most interestingly, the datasets reveal that BDNF-induced JAK/STAT signaling in neurons is non-canonical, as STAT3 phosphorylation at tyrosine 705 is not required for action. To directly examine STAT3’s role in epileptogenesis, we studied the transcriptome of transgenic mice that express lower levels of STAT3 specifically in neurons. Using the intrahippocampal kainic-acid (KA) model of epilepsy, our datasets suggest that STAT3 knockdown in vivo, and selectively in neurons, protects mice from KA-induced dysregulation of the sphingolipid metabolism pathway that is associated with the trafficking, sorting, and stability of membrane-bound proteins, including neurotransmitter receptors and ion channels. Finally, we discuss a model for JAK/STAT signaling in neurons that includes structural aspects of an intracellular BDNF receptor (p75NTR) associated with JAK2.