Single-Cell Transcriptional Profiling and Gene Regulatory Network Modeling in Tg2576 Mice Reveal Gender-Dependent Molecular Features Preceding Alzheimer-Like Pathologies

Muhammad Ali, Oihane Uriarte Huarte, Tony Heurtaux, Pierre Garcia, Beatriz Pardo Rodriguez, Kamil Grzyb, Rashi Halder, Alexander Skupin, Manuel Buttini, Enrico Glaab*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD) onset and progression is influenced by a complex interplay of several environmental and genetic factors, one of them gender. Pronounced gender differences have been observed both in the relative risk of developing AD and in clinical disease manifestations. A molecular level understanding of these gender disparities is still missing, but could provide important clues on cellular mechanisms modulating the disease and reveal new targets for gender-oriented disease-modifying precision therapies. We therefore present here a comprehensive single-cell analysis of disease-associated molecular gender differences in transcriptomics data from the neocortex, one of the brain regions most susceptible to AD, in one of the most widely used AD mouse models, the Tg2576 model. Cortical areas are also most commonly used in studies of post-mortem AD brains. To identify disease-linked molecular processes that occur before the onset of detectable neuropathology, we focused our analyses on an age with no detectable plaques and microgliosis. Cell-type specific alterations were investigated at the level of individual genes, pathways, and gene regulatory networks. The number of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) was not large enough to build context-specific gene regulatory networks for each individual cell type, and thus, we focused on the study of cell types with dominant changes and included analyses of changes across the combination of cell types. We observed significant disease-associated gender differences in cellular processes related to synapse organization and reactive oxygen species metabolism, and identified a limited set of transcription factors, including Egr1 and Klf6, as key regulators of many of the disease-associated and gender-dependent gene expression changes in the model. Overall, our analyses revealed significant cell-type specific gene expression changes in individual genes, pathways and sub-networks, including gender-specific and gender-dimorphic changes in both upstream transcription factors and their downstream targets, in the Tg2576 AD model before the onset of overt disease. This opens a window into molecular events that could determine gender-susceptibility to AD, and uncovers tractable target candidates for potential gender-specific precision medicine for AD.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Aug 2022

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