Spinocerebellar degenerations (SCDs) are a large class of sporadic or hereditary neurodegenerative disorders characterized by progressive motion defects and degenerative changes in the cerebellum and other parts of the CNS. Here we report the identification and establishment from a C57BL/6J mouse colony of a novel mouse line developing spontaneous progressive ataxia, which we refer to as ts3. Frequency of the phenotypic expression was consistent with an autosomal recessive Mendelian trait of inheritance, suggesting that a single gene mutation is responsible for the ataxic phenotype of this line. The onset of ataxia was observed at about three weeks of age, which slowly progressed until the hind limbs became entirely paralyzed in many cases. Micro-MRI study revealed significant cerebellar atrophy in all the ataxic mice, although individual variations were observed. Detailed histological analyses demonstrated significant atrophy of the anterior folia with reduced granule cells (GC) and abnormal morphology of cerebellar Purkinje cells (PC). Study by ultra-high voltage electron microscopy (UHVEM) further indicated aberrant morphology of PC dendrites and their spines, suggesting both morphological and functional abnormalities of the PC in the mutants. Immunohistochemical studies also revealed defects in parallel fiber (PF)-PC synapse formation and abnormal distal extension of climbing fibers (CF). Based on the phenotypic similarities of the ts3 mutant with other known ataxic mutants, we performed immunohistological analyses and found that expression levels of two genes and their products, glutamate receptor delta2 (grid2) and its ligand, cerebellin1 (Cbln1), are significantly reduced or undetectable. Finally, we sequenced the candidate genes and detected a large deletion in the coding region of the grid2 gene. Our present study suggests that ts3 is a new allele of the grid2 gene, which causes similar but different phenotypes as compared to other grid2 mutants.
Saposins A, B, C, and D are small amphiphatic glycoproteins that are encoded in tandem within a precursor protein (prosaposin, PSAP), and are required for in vivo degradation of sphingolipids. Humans with saposin C deficiency exhibit the clinical presentation of Gaucher-like disease. We generated two types of saposin C mutant mice, one carrying a homozygous missense mutation (C384S) in the saposin C domain of prosaposin (Sap-C(-/-)) and the other carrying the compound heterozygous mutation with a second null Psap allele (Psap(-/C384S)). During early life stages, both Sap-C(-/-) and Psap(-/C384S) mice grew normally; however, they developed progressive motor and behavioral deficits after 3 months of age and the majority of affected mice could scarcely move by about 15 months. They showed no signs of hepatosplenomegaly throughout their lives. No accumulation of glucosylceramide and glucosylsphingosine was detected in the brain or liver of both Sap-C(-/-) and Psap(-/C384S) mice. Neuropathological analyses revealed patterned loss of cerebellar Purkinje cells, widespread axonal spheroids filled with membrane-derived concentric or lamellar electron-dense bodies, and lipofuscin-like deposition in the neurons. Soap-bubble-like inclusion bodies were detected in the trigeminal ganglion cells and the vascular endothelial cells. Compound heterozygous Psap(-/C384S) mice showed qualitatively identical but faster progression of the neurological phenotypes than Sap-C(-/-) mice. These results suggest the in vivo role of saposin C in axonal membrane homeostasis, the disruption of which leads to neurodegeneration in lysosomal storage disease.
The neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLs) are autosomal recessively inherited disorders collectively considered to be one among the most common pediatric neurodegenerative lysosomal storage diseases. Four main clinical subtypes have been described based on the age at presentation: infantile, late infantile, juvenile and adult types. In addition, rare congenital cases of NCL have been reported in the literature. Previously, a homozygous mutation in the cathepsin D gene has been shown to cause congenital NCL in a patient of Pakistani origin. We report a case of a 39-week estimated gestational age female infant with severe microcephaly and hypertonia, whereas MRI showed generalized hypoplasia of the cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres. The infant died on day two after birth. Postmortem examination revealed a small, firm brain with extensive neuronal loss and gliosis. Remaining neurons, astrocytes and macrophages contained PAS-positive storage material with granular ultrastructure and immunoreactivity against sphingolipid activator protein D. A diagnosis of congenital NCL was rendered with a novel mutation, c.299C > T (p.Ser100Phe) in exon 3 of the cathepsin D gene. In the patient fibroblasts, cathepsin D activity was marginal, but the protein appeared stable and normally processed. This was confirmed in overexpression studies. Importantly, by identification of the mutation in the family, we were able to confirm the first prenatal diagnosis excluding cathepsin D deficiency in the younger sibling of the patient.
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