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Articles by G Bernardi
Total Records ( 4 ) for G Bernardi
  G Martella , A Tassone , G Sciamanna , P Platania , D Cuomo , M. T Viscomi , P Bonsi , E Cacci , S Biagioni , A Usiello , G Bernardi , N Sharma , D. G Standaert and A. Pisani

DYT1 dystonia is a severe form of inherited dystonia, characterized by involuntary twisting movements and abnormal postures. It is linked to a deletion in the dyt1 gene, resulting in a mutated form of the protein torsinA. The penetrance for dystonia is incomplete, but both clinically affected and non-manifesting carriers of the DYT1 mutation exhibit impaired motor learning and evidence of altered motor plasticity. Here, we characterized striatal glutamatergic synaptic plasticity in transgenic mice expressing either the normal human torsinA or its mutant form, in comparison to non-transgenic (NT) control mice. Medium spiny neurons recorded from both NT and normal human torsinA mice exhibited normal long-term depression (LTD), whereas in mutant human torsinA littermates LTD could not be elicited. In addition, although long-term potentiation (LTP) could be induced in all the mice, it was greater in magnitude in mutant human torsinA mice. Low-frequency stimulation (LFS) can revert potentiated synapses to resting levels, a phenomenon termed synaptic depotentiation. LFS induced synaptic depotentiation (SD) both in NT and normal human torsinA mice, but not in mutant human torsinA mice. Since anti-cholinergic drugs are an effective medical therapeutic option for the treatment of human dystonia, we reasoned that an excess in endogenous acetylcholine could underlie the synaptic plasticity impairment. Indeed, both LTD and SD were rescued in mutant human torsinA mice either by lowering endogenous acetylcholine levels or by antagonizing muscarinic M1 receptors. The presence of an enhanced acetylcholine tone was confirmed by the observation that acetylcholinesterase activity was significantly increased in the striatum of mutant human torsinA mice, as compared with both normal human torsinA and NT littermates. Moreover, we found similar alterations of synaptic plasticity in muscarinic M2/M4 receptor knockout mice, in which an increased striatal acetylcholine level has been documented. The loss of LTD and SD on one hand, and the increase in LTP on the other, demonstrate that a ‘loss of inhibition’ characterizes the impairment of synaptic plasticity in this model of DYT1 dystonia. More importantly, our results indicate that an unbalanced cholinergic transmission plays a pivotal role in these alterations, providing a clue to understand the ability of anticholinergic agents to restore motor deficits in dystonia.

  A Orlacchio , C Babalini , A Borreca , C Patrono , R Massa , S Basaran , R. P Munhoz , E. A Rogaeva , P. H St George Hyslop , G Bernardi and T. Kawarai

The mutation of the spatacsin gene is the single most common cause of autosomal recessive hereditary spastic paraplegia with thin corpus callosum. Common clinical, pathological and genetic features between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and hereditary spastic paraplegia motivated us to investigate 25 families with autosomal recessive juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and long-term survival for mutations in the spatascin gene. The inclusion criterion was a diagnosis of clinically definite amyotrophic lateral sclerosis according to the revised El Escorial criteria. The exclusion criterion was a diagnosis of hereditary spastic paraplegia with thin corpus callosum in line with an established protocol. Additional pathological and genetic evaluations were also performed. Surprisingly, 12 sequence alterations in the spatacsin gene (one of which is novel, IVS30 + 1 G > A) were identified in 10 unrelated pedigrees with autosomal recessive juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and long-term survival. The countries of origin of these families were Italy, Brazil, Canada, Japan and Turkey. The variants seemed to be pathogenic since they co-segregated with the disease in all pedigrees, were absent in controls and were associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis neuropathology in one member of one of these families for whom central nervous system tissue was available. Our study indicates that mutations in the spatascin gene could cause a much wider spectrum of clinical features than previously recognized, including autosomal recessive juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

  S Middei , A Roberto , N Berretta , M. B Panico , S Lista , G Bernardi , N. B Mercuri , M Ammassari Teule and R. Nistico

B6-Tg/Thy1APP23Sdz (APP23) mutant mice exhibit neurohistological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease but show intact basal hippocampal neurotransmission and synaptic plasticity. Here, we examine whether spatial learning differently modifies the structural and electrophysiological properties of hippocampal synapses in APP23 and wild-type mice. While no genotypic difference was found in the pseudotrained mice, training elicited a stronger increase in spine density and a more rapid decay of long-term potentiation (LTP) in APP23 mutants. Thus, learning discloses mutation-related abnormalities regarding dendritic spine formation and LTP persistence, thereby suggesting that although unaltered in naïve synapses, plasticity becomes defective at the time it comes into play.

  G Bucciarelli , M Di Filippo , D Costagliola , F Alvarez Valin , G Bernardi and G. Bernardi

The influence of the environment on two congeneric fishes, Gillichthys mirabilis and Gillichthys seta, that live in the Gulf of California at temperatures of 10–25 °C, and up to 42–44 °C, respectively, was addressed by analyzing their genomes. Compared with G. mirabilis, G. seta showed some striking features. Substitution rates in the mitochondrial genes were found to be extremely fast, in fact faster than in noncoding control regions (D-loops), from which a divergence time of less than 0.66–0.75 Mya could be estimated. In the nuclear genome, 1) both AT -> GC/GC -> AT and transversion: transition ratios in coding sequences (CDSs) were relatively high; moreover, the ratios of nonsynonymous/synonymous changes (Ka/Ks) suggested that some genes were under positive selection; 2) DNA methylation showed a very significant decrease; and 3) a GC-rich minisatellite underwent a 4-fold amplification in the gene-rich regions. All these observations clearly indicate that the environment (temperature and the accompanying hypoxia) can rapidly mold the nuclear as well as the mitochondrial genome. The stabilization of gene-rich regions by the amplification of the GC-rich minisatellite and by the GC increase in nuclear CDSs is of special interest because it provides a model for the formation of the GC-rich and gene-rich isochores of the genomes of mammals and birds.

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