Neuropeptide VGF Promotes Maturation of Hippocampal Dendrites That Is Reduced by Single Nucleotide Polymorphis

Behnke J, etc
International Journal of Molecular Science, 2017

The neuropeptide VGF (non-acronymic) is induced by brain-derived neurotrophic factor and promotes hippocampal neurogenesis, as well as synaptic activity. However, morphological changes induced by VGF have not been elucidated. Developing hippocampal neurons were exposed to VGF through bath application or virus-mediated expression in vitro. VGF-derived peptide, TLQP-62, enhanced dendritic branching, and outgrowth. Furthermore, VGF increased dendritic spine density and the proportion of immature spines. Spine formation was associated with increased synaptic protein expression and co-localization of pre- and postsynaptic markers. Three non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were selected in human VGF gene. Transfection of N2a cells with plasmids containing these SNPs revealed no relative change in protein expression levels and normal protein size, except for a truncated protein from the premature stop codon, E525X. All three SNPs resulted in a lower proportion of N2a cells bearing neurites relative to wild-type VGF. Furthermore, all three mutations reduced the total length of dendrites in developing hippocampal neurons. Taken together, our results suggest VGF enhances dendritic maturation and that these effects can be altered by common mutations in the VGF gene. The findings may have implications for people suffering from psychiatric disease or other conditions who may have altered VGF levels.

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International Journal of Molecular Science
doi: 10.3390/ijms18030612
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School