Familial neurohypophysial diabetes insipidus (FNDI) characterized by progressive polyuria is mostly caused by mutations in the gene encoding neurophysin II (NPII), which is the carrier protein of the antidiuretic hormone, arginine vasopressin (AVP). Although accumulation of mutant NPII in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) could be toxic for AVP neurons, the precise mechanisms of cell death of AVP neurons, reported in autopsy studies, remain unclear. Here, we subjected FNDI model mice to intermittent water deprivation (WD) in order to promote the phenotypes. Electron microscopic analyses demonstrated that, while aggregates are confined to a certain compartment of the ER in the AVP neurons of FNDI mice with water access ad libitum, they were scattered throughout the dilated ER lumen in the FNDI mice subjected to WD for 4 weeks. It is also demonstrated that phagophores, the autophagosome precursors, emerged in the vicinity of aggregates and engulfed the ER containing scattered aggregates. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed that expression of p62, an adapter protein between ubiquitin and autophagosome, was elicited on autophagosomal membranes in the AVP neurons, suggesting selective autophagy induction at this time point. Treatment of hypothalamic explants of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3) transgenic mice with an ER stressor thapsigargin increased the number of GFP-LC3 puncta, suggesting that ER stress could induce autophagosome formation in the hypothalamus of wild-type mice as well. The cytoplasm of AVP neurons in FNDI mice was occupied with vacuoles in the mice subjected toWD for 12 weeks, when 30-40% of AVP neurons are lost. Our data thus demonstrated that autophagy was induced in the AVP neurons subjected to ER stress in FNDI mice. Although autophagy should primarily be protective for neurons, it is suggested that the organelles including ER were lost over time through autophagy, leading to autophagy-associated cell death of AVP neurons.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research