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LRRC4 functions as a neuron-protective role in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Zhang, Y;Li, D;Zeng, Q;Feng, J;Fu, H;Luo, Z;Xiao, B;Yang, H;Wu, M;

Leucine rich repeat containing 4 (LRRC4), also known as netrin-G ligand-2 (NGL-2), belongs to the superfamily of LRR proteins and serves as a receptor for netrin-G2. LRRC4 regulates the formation of excitatory synapses and promotes axon differentiation. Mutations in LRRC4 occur in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neuroinflammatory disease with spinal cords demyelination and neurodegeneration. Here, we sought to investigate whether LRRC4 is involved in spinal cords neuron-associated diseases. LRRC4 was detected in the CNS of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mice by the use of real-time PCR and western blotting. LRRC4-/- mice were created and immunized with myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein peptide (MOG)35-55. Pathological changes in spinal cords of LRRC4-/- and WT mice 15 days after immunization were examined by using hematoxylin and eosin (H&E), Luxol Fast Blue (LFB) staining and immunohistochemistry. The number of Th1/Th2/Th17/Treg cells in spleens and blood were measured with flow cytometry. Differential gene expression in the spinal cords from WT and LRRC4-/- mice was analyzed by using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors were used to overexpress LRRC4 (AAV-LRRC4) and were injected into EAE mice to assess the therapeutic effect of AAV-LRRC4 ectopic expression on EAE. We report that LRRC4 is mainly expressed in neuron of spinal cords, and is decreased in the spinal cords of the EAE mice. Knockout of LRRC4 have a disease progression quickened and exacerbated with more severe myelin degeneration and infiltration of leukocytes into the spinal cords. We also first found that Rab7b is high expressed in EAE mice, and the deficiency of LRRC4 induces the elevated NF-?B p65 by up-regulating Rab7b, and up-regulation of IL-6, IFN-? and down-regulation of TNF-?, results in more severe Th1 immune response in LRRC4-/- mice. Ectopic expression of LRRC4 alleviates the clinical symptoms of EAE mice and protects the neurons from immune damages. We identified a neuroprotective role of LRRC4 in the progression of EAE, which may be used as a potential target for auxiliary support therapeutic treatment of MS.