Carla Perrone Capano

Professor of Physiology
Vice-director of the CIRN

Name Carla
Surname Perrone Capano
Institution University of Naples – Federico II
Address Institute of Genetics and Biophysics, "Adriano Buzzati Traverso", CNR, 80131 Naples, Italy
Carla Perrone Capano


  • Local gene expression in nerve endings.

    Publication Date: 01/03/2014 on Developmental neurobiology
    by Crispino M, Chun JT, Cefaliello C, Perrone Capano C, Giuditta A
    DOI: 10.1002/dneu.22109

    At the Nobel lecture for physiology in 1906, Ramón y Cajal famously stated that "the nerve elements possess reciprocal relationships in contiguity but not in continuity," summing up the neuron doctrine. Sixty years later, by the time the central dogma of molecular biology formulated the axis of genetic information flow from DNA to mRNA, and then to protein, it became obvious that neurons with extensive ramifications and long axons inevitably incur an innate problem: how can the effect of gene expression be extended from the nucleus to the remote and specific sites of the cell periphery? The most straightforward solution would be to deliver soma-produced proteins to the target sites. The influential discovery of axoplasmic flow has supported this scheme of protein supply. Alternatively, mRNAs can be dispatched instead of protein, and translated locally at the strategic target sites. Over the past decades, such a local system of protein synthesis has been demonstrated in dendrites, axons, and presynaptic terminals. Moreover, the local protein synthesis in neurons might even involve intercellular trafficking of molecules. The innovative concept of glia-neuron unit suggests that the local protein synthesis in the axonal and presynaptic domain of mature neurons is sustained by a local supply of RNAs synthesized in the surrounding glial cells and transferred to these domains. Here, we have reviewed some of the evidence indicating the presence of a local system of protein synthesis in axon terminals, and have examined its regulation in various model systems.

  • Impulsivity and home-cage activity are decreased by lentivirus-mediated silencing of serotonin transporter in the rat hippocampus.

    Publication Date: 26/08/2013 on Neuroscience letters
    by Zoratto F, Tringle AL, Bellenchi G, Speranza L, Travaglini D, di Porzio U, Perrone-Capano C, Laviola G, Dreyer JL, Adriani W
    DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2013.05.076

    Brain serotonin (5-HT) systems modulate emotional, motivational and cognitive processes. Mutations in the serotonin transporter (SERT) gene have been associated with susceptibility towards the development of several psychiatric disorders, both in humans and animal models. Present approach exploited a bilateral intra-hippocampus stereotaxic inoculation of lentiviruses, for enduring in vivo silencing of SERT. Control rats were bilaterally inoculated with heat-inactivated lentiviruses. These Lenti-SERT vectors were intended to eventually manipulate the neurotransmitter reuptake at synaptic level, thus enhancing tonic 5-HT transmission. We investigated whether such manipulation could induce behavioural alterations relevant to the modelling of ADHD, in particular symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Wistar rats were monitored for spontaneous home-cage locomotor activity and studied for impulsivity (Intolerance-to-Delay task). Results show that rats inoculated with Lenti-SERT vectors exhibited less pronounced circadian peaks of activity than controls. Moreover, Lenti-SERT compared to control rats exhibited a transient increase in choice for a delayed-larger reward over an immediate-small reward. This suggests that enhanced hippocampal serotonergic transmission produced a profile of restfulness and a decrease in cognitive impulsivity. This phenotype is consistent with available data both on 5-HT manipulations and hippocampal lesions. In conclusion, present findings may possibly disclose novel avenues towards the development of innovative therapeutical approaches for behavioural symptoms relevant to ADHD.

  • The serotonin receptor 7 promotes neurite outgrowth via ERK and Cdk5 signaling pathways.

    Publication Date: 01/04/2013 on Neuropharmacology
    by Speranza L, Chambery A, Di Domenico M, Crispino M, Severino V, Volpicelli F, Leopoldo M, Bellenchi GC, di Porzio U, Perrone-Capano C
    DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.10.026

    Serotonergic neurotransmission is mediated by at least 14 subtypes of 5-HT receptors. Among these, the CNS serotonin receptor 7 (5-HTR7) is involved in diverse physiological processes. Here we show that treatment of murine striatal and cortical neuronal cultures with 5-HTR7 agonists (8-OH-DPAT and LP-211) significantly enhances neurite outgrowth. This effect is abolished by the selective 5-HTR7 antagonist SB-269970, by the ERK inhibitor U0126, by the cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) inhibitor roscovitine, as well as by cycloheximide, an inhibitor of protein synthesis. These data indicate that 5-HTR7 activation stimulates extensive neurite elongation in CNS primary cultures, subserved by ERK and Cdk5 activation, and de novo protein synthesis. Two-dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis coupled to Western blot analyses reveals both qualitative and quantitative expression changes in selected cytoskeletal proteins, following treatment of striatal primary cultures with LP-211. In particular, the 34 kDa isoform of MAP1B is selectively expressed in stimulated cultures, consistent with a role of this protein in tubulin polymerization and neurite elongation. In summary, our results show that agonist-dependent activation of the endogenous 5-HTR7 in CNS neuronal primary cultures stimulates ERK- and Cdk5-dependent neurite outgrowth, sustained by modifications of cytoskeletal proteins. These data support the hypothesis that the 5-HTR7 might play a crucial role in shaping neuronal morphology and behaviorally relevant neuronal networks, paving the way to new approaches able to modulate CNS connectivity.

  • Adult neural stem cells: an endogenous tool to repair brain injury?

    Publication Date: 01/01/2013 on Journal of neurochemistry
    by Bellenchi GC, Volpicelli F, Piscopo V, Perrone-Capano C, di Porzio U
    DOI: 10.1111/jnc.12084

    Research on stem cells has developed as one of the most promising areas of neurobiology. In the beginning of the 1990s, neurogenesis in the adult brain was indisputably accepted, eliciting great research efforts. Neural stem cells in the adult mammalian brain are located in the 'neurogenic' areas of the subventricular and subgranular zones. Nevertheless, many reports indicate that they subsist in other regions of the adult brain. Adult neural stem cells have arisen considerable interest as these studies can be useful to develop new methods to replace damaged neurons and treat severe neurological diseases such as neurodegeneration, stroke or spinal cord lesions. In particular, a promising field is aimed at stimulating or trigger a self-repair system in the diseased brain driven by its own stem cell population. Here, we will revise the latest findings on the characterization of active and quiescent adult neural stem cells in the main regions of neurogenesis and the factors necessary to maintain their active and resting states, stimulate migration and homing in diseased areas, hoping to outline the emerging knowledge for the promotion of regeneration in the brain based on endogenous stem cells.

  • Restriction of neural precursor ability to respond to Nurr1 by early regional specification.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2012 on PloS one
    by Soldati C, Cacci E, Biagioni S, Carucci N, Lupo G, Perrone-Capano C, Saggio I, Augusti-Tocco G
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051798

    During neural development, spatially regulated expression of specific transcription factors is crucial for central nervous system (CNS) regionalization, generation of neural precursors (NPs) and subsequent differentiation of specific cell types within defined regions. A critical role in dopaminergic differentiation in the midbrain (MB) has been assigned to the transcription factor Nurr1. Nurr1 controls the expression of key genes involved in dopamine (DA) neurotransmission, e.g. tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and the DA transporter (DAT), and promotes the dopaminergic phenotype in embryonic stem cells. We investigated whether cells derived from different areas of the mouse CNS could be directed to differentiate into dopaminergic neurons in vitro by forced expression of the transcription factor Nurr1. We show that Nurr1 overexpression can promote dopaminergic cell fate specification only in NPs obtained from E13.5 ganglionic eminence (GE) and MB, but not in NPs isolated from E13.5 cortex (CTX) and spinal cord (SC) or from the adult subventricular zone (SVZ). Confirming previous studies, we also show that Nurr1 overexpression can increase the generation of TH-positive neurons in mouse embryonic stem cells. These data show that Nurr1 ability to induce a dopaminergic phenotype becomes restricted during CNS development and is critically dependent on the region of NPs derivation. Our results suggest that the plasticity of NPs and their ability to activate a dopaminergic differentiation program in response to Nurr1 is regulated during early stages of neurogenesis, possibly through mechanisms controlling CNS regionalization.

  • Direct regulation of Pitx3 expression by Nurr1 in culture and in developing mouse midbrain.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2012 on PloS one
    by Volpicelli F, De Gregorio R, Pulcrano S, Perrone-Capano C, di Porzio U, Bellenchi GC
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030661

    Due to their correlation with major human neurological diseases, dopaminergic neurons are some of the most studied neuronal subtypes. Mesencephalic dopaminergic (mDA) differentiation requires the activation of a cascade of transcription factors, among which play a crucial role the nuclear receptor Nurr1 and the paired-like homeodomain 3, Pitx3. During development the expression of Nurr1 precedes that of Pitx3 and those of typical dopaminergic markers such as tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine Transporter (DAT) that are directly regulated by Nurr1. Interestingly we have previously demonstrated that Nurr1 RNA silencing reduced Pitx3 transcripts, leading to the hypothesis that Nurr1 may control Pitx3 expression.Here we show that Nurr1 overexpression up-regulates that of Pitx3 in a dose-dependent manner by binding to a non-canonical NBRE consensus sequence, located at the 5' site of the gene. Interestingly, this sequence shows the same effect as the canonical one in promoting gene translation, and its deletion abolishes the ability of Nurr1 to sustain reporter gene expression. Moreover, we show that there is a direct interaction between Nurr1 and the Pitx3 gene promoter in dopaminergic cell cultures and midbrain embryonic tissue. Altogether, our results suggest that the regulation of Pitx3 by Nurr1 may be an essential event controlling the development and function of mDA neurons.

  • Methylphenidate administration determines enduring changes in neuroglial network in rats.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2012 on European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
    by Cavaliere C, Cirillo G, Bianco MR, Adriani W, De Simone A, Leo D, Perrone-Capano C, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2011.04.003

    Repeated exposure to psychostimulant drugs induces complex molecular and structural modifications in discrete brain regions of the meso-cortico-limbic system. This structural remodeling is thought to underlie neurobehavioral adaptive responses. Administration to adolescent rats of methylphenidate (MPH), commonly used in attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), triggers alterations of reward-based behavior paralleled by persistent and plastic synaptic changes of neuronal and glial markers within key areas of the reward circuits. By immunohistochemistry, we observe a marked increase of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) expression and a down-regulation of glial glutamate transporter GLAST in dorso-lateral and ventro-medial striatum. Using electron microscopy, we find in the prefrontal cortex a significant reduction of the synaptic active zone length, paralleled by an increase of dendritic spines. We demonstrate that in limbic areas the MPH-induced reactive astrocytosis affects the glial glutamatergic uptake system that in turn could determine glutamate receptor sensitization. These processes could be sustained by NO production and synaptic rearrangement and contribute to MPH neuroglial induced rewiring.

  • Social withdrawal and gambling-like profile after lentiviral manipulation of DAT expression in the rat accumbens.

    Publication Date: 01/11/2010 on The international journal of neuropsychopharmacology
    by Adriani W, Boyer F, Leo D, Canese R, Podo F, Perrone-Capano C, Dreyer JL, Laviola G
    DOI: 10.1017/S1461145709991210

    Dysfunction of brain dopamine transporter (DAT) has been associated with sensation seeking and impulse-control disorders. We recently generated a new animal model by stereotaxical inoculation of lentiviral vectors, which allowed localized intra-accumbal delivery of modulators for DAT gene: GFP (green fluorescent protein) control, silencers (Sil), a regulatable enhancer (DAT+), or both (DAT+Sil). Wistar male rats were followed both for socio-emotional profiles and for propensity to seek risky, uncertain rewards. Elevated anxiety and affiliation towards an unfamiliar partner emerged in Sil rats. Interestingly, in DAT+Sil rats (and Sil rats to a lesser extent) levels of playful social interaction were markedly reduced compared to controls. These DAT+Sil rats displayed a marked 'gambling-like' profile (i.e. preference for a large/uncertain over a small/sure reward), which disappeared upon doxycycline-induced switch-off onto DAT enhancer, but consistently reappeared with doxycycline removal. MRI-guided 1H-MRS (at 4.7 T) examinations in vivo (under anaesthesia) revealed changes in the bioenergetic metabolites (phosphocreatine and total creatine) for DAT+Sil rats, indicating a functional up-regulation of dorsal striatum (Str) and conversely a down-regulation of ventral striatum (i.e. nucleus accumbens, NAc). A combined profile of (1) enhanced proneness to gambling and (2) strong social withdrawal is thus associated with altered DAT-induced balance within forebrain dopamine systems. In fact, risk of developing a gambling-prone, social-avoidant psychopathology might be associated with (1) dominant semi-automatic strategies and/or habits, developed within Str circuits, and (2) reduced NAc function, with poorer feedback adjustment on decisions by aversive experiences.

  • Methylphenidate to adolescent rats drives enduring changes of accumbal Htr7 expression: implications for impulsive behavior and neuronal morphology.

    Publication Date: 01/04/2009 on Genes, brain, and behavior
    by Leo D, Adriani W, Cavaliere C, Cirillo G, Marco EM, Romano E, di Porzio U, Papa M, Perrone-Capano C, Laviola G
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2009.00486.x

    Methylphenidate (MPH) administration to adolescent rodents produces persistent region-specific changes in brain reward circuits and alterations of reward-based behavior. We show that these modifications include a marked increment of serotonin (5-hydroxy-tryptamine) receptor type 7 (Htr7) expression and synaptic contacts, mainly in the nucleus accumbens, and a reduction of basal behavioral impulsivity. We show that neural and behavioral consequences are functionally related: administration of a selective Htr7 antagonist fully counteracts the MPH-reduced impulsive behavior and enhances impulsivity when administered alone in naive rats. Agonist-induced activation of endogenous Htr7 significantly increases neurite length in striatal neuron primary cultures, thus suggesting plastic remodeling of neuronal morphology. The mixed Htr (1a/7) agonist, 8-OH-DPAT, reduces impulsive behavior in adolescent rats and in naive adults, whose impulsivity is enhanced by the Htr7 antagonist. In summary, behavioral pharmacology experiments show that Htr7 mediates self-control behavior, and brain primary cultures experiments indicate that this receptor may be involved in the underlying neural plasticity, through changes in neuronal cytoarchitecture.

  • Comparison of gene expression profile in embryonic mesencephalon and neuronal primary cultures.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2009 on PloS one
    by Greco D, Volpicelli F, Di Lieto A, Leo D, Perrone-Capano C, Auvinen P, di Porzio U
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004977

    In the mammalian central nervous system (CNS) an important contingent of dopaminergic neurons are localized in the substantia nigra and in the ventral tegmental area of the ventral midbrain. They constitute an anatomically and functionally heterogeneous group of cells involved in a variety of regulatory mechanisms, from locomotion to emotional/motivational behavior. Midbrain dopaminergic neuron (mDA) primary cultures represent a useful tool to study molecular mechanisms involved in their development and maintenance. Considerable information has been gathered on the mDA neurons development and maturation in vivo, as well as on the molecular features of mDA primary cultures. Here we investigated in detail the gene expression differences between the tissue of origin and ventral midbrain primary cultures enriched in mDA neurons, using microarray technique. We integrated the results based on different re-annotations of the microarray probes. By using knowledge-based gene network techniques and promoter sequence analysis, we also uncovered mechanisms that might regulate the expression of CNS genes involved in the definition of the identity of specific cell types in the ventral midbrain. We integrate bioinformatics and functional genomics, together with developmental neurobiology. Moreover, we propose guidelines for the computational analysis of microarray gene expression data. Our findings help to clarify some molecular aspects of the development and differentiation of DA neurons within the midbrain.