Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting motoneurons (MNs) with a fatal outcome. The typical degeneration of cortico-spinal, spinal, and bulbar MNs, observed in post-mortem biopsies, is associated with the activation of neuroimmune cells. GJA1, a member of the connexins (Cxs) gene family, encodes for connexin 43 (Cx43), a core gap junctions (GJs)- and hemichannels (HCs)-forming protein, involved in cell death, proliferation, and differentiation. Recently, Cx43 expression was found to play a role in ALS pathogenesis. Here, we used microarray and RNA-seq datasets from the NCBI of the spinal cord of control (NDC) and ALS patients, which were stratified according to the GJA1 gene expression. Genes that positively or negatively correlated to GJA1 expression were used to perform a genomic deconvolution analysis (GDA) using neuroimmune signatures. Expression analysis revealed a significantly higher GJA1 expression in the MNs of ALS patients as compared to NDC. Gene deconvolution analysis revealed that positively correlated genes were associated with microglia activation, whereas negatively correlated genes were associated with neuronal activation profiles. Moreover, gene ontology analysis, performed on genes characterizing either microglia or neuronal signature, indicated immune activation or neurogenesis as main biological processes. Finally, using a synthetic analysis of drugs able to revert the GJA1 transcriptomic signatures, we found a specific drug profile for ALS patients with high GJA1 expression levels, composed of amlodipine, sertraline, and prednisolone. In conclusion, our exploratory study suggests GJA1 as a new neuro-immunological gene correlated to microglial cellular profile in the spinal cord of ALS patients. Further studies are warranted to confirm these results and to evaluate the therapeutic potential of drugs able to revert typical GJA1/CX43 signature in ALS patients.

GJA1/CX43 High Expression Levels in the Cervical Spinal Cord of ALS Patients Correlate to Microglia-Mediated Neuroinflammatory Profile

Vicario, Nunzio
Primo
;
Castrogiovanni, Paola
Secondo
;
Imbesi, Rosa;Giallongo, Sebastiano;Furno, Debora Lo;Giuffrida, Rosario;Li Volti, Giovanni;Tibullo, Daniele;Di Rosa, Michelino
Penultimo
;
Parenti, Rosalba
Ultimo
2022

Abstract

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting motoneurons (MNs) with a fatal outcome. The typical degeneration of cortico-spinal, spinal, and bulbar MNs, observed in post-mortem biopsies, is associated with the activation of neuroimmune cells. GJA1, a member of the connexins (Cxs) gene family, encodes for connexin 43 (Cx43), a core gap junctions (GJs)- and hemichannels (HCs)-forming protein, involved in cell death, proliferation, and differentiation. Recently, Cx43 expression was found to play a role in ALS pathogenesis. Here, we used microarray and RNA-seq datasets from the NCBI of the spinal cord of control (NDC) and ALS patients, which were stratified according to the GJA1 gene expression. Genes that positively or negatively correlated to GJA1 expression were used to perform a genomic deconvolution analysis (GDA) using neuroimmune signatures. Expression analysis revealed a significantly higher GJA1 expression in the MNs of ALS patients as compared to NDC. Gene deconvolution analysis revealed that positively correlated genes were associated with microglia activation, whereas negatively correlated genes were associated with neuronal activation profiles. Moreover, gene ontology analysis, performed on genes characterizing either microglia or neuronal signature, indicated immune activation or neurogenesis as main biological processes. Finally, using a synthetic analysis of drugs able to revert the GJA1 transcriptomic signatures, we found a specific drug profile for ALS patients with high GJA1 expression levels, composed of amlodipine, sertraline, and prednisolone. In conclusion, our exploratory study suggests GJA1 as a new neuro-immunological gene correlated to microglial cellular profile in the spinal cord of ALS patients. Further studies are warranted to confirm these results and to evaluate the therapeutic potential of drugs able to revert typical GJA1/CX43 signature in ALS patients.
ALS
GJA1
bioinformatic
brain
microglia
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/537872
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