The transcription factor Zscan10 had been attributed a role as a pluripotency factor in embryonic stem cells based on its interaction with Oct4 and Sox2 in in vitro assays. Here we suggest a potential role of Zscan10 in controlling progenitor cell populations in vivo. Mice homozygous for a Zscan10 mutation exhibit reduced weight, mild hypoplasia in the spleen, heart and long bones and phenocopy an eye malformation previously described for Sox2 hypomorphs. Phenotypic abnormalities are supported by the nature of Zscan10 expression in midgestation embryos and adults suggesting a role for Zscan10 in either maintaining progenitor cell subpopulation or impacting on fate choice decisions thereof.
Mutations in the cytosine-5 RNA methyltransferase NSun2 cause microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities in mice and human. How post-transcriptional methylation contributes to the human disease is currently unknown. By comparing gene expression data with global cytosine-5 RNA methylomes in patient fibroblasts and NSun2-deficient mice, we find that loss of cytosine-5 RNA methylation increases the angiogenin-mediated endonucleolytic cleavage of transfer RNAs (tRNA) leading to an accumulation of 5' tRNA-derived small RNA fragments. Accumulation of 5' tRNA fragments in the absence of NSun2 reduces protein translation rates and activates stress pathways leading to reduced cell size and increased apoptosis of cortical, hippocampal and striatal neurons. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that angiogenin binds with higher affinity to tRNAs lacking site-specific NSun2-mediated methylation and that the presence of 5' tRNA fragments is sufficient and required to trigger cellular stress responses. Furthermore, the enhanced sensitivity of NSun2-deficient brains to oxidative stress can be rescued through inhibition of angiogenin during embryogenesis. In conclusion, failure in NSun2-mediated tRNA methylation contributes to human diseases via stress-induced RNA cleavage.
Type I Bartter syndrome is a recessive human nephropathy caused by loss-of-function mutations in the SLC12A1 gene coding for the Na+-K+-2Cl- cotransporter NKCC2. We recently established the mutant mouse line Slc12a1I299F exhibiting kidney defects highly similar to the late-onset manifestation of this hereditary human disease. Besides the kidney defects, low blood pressure and osteopenia were revealed in the homozygous mutant mice which were also described in humans. Beside its strong expression in the kidney, NKCC2 has been also shown to be expressed in other tissues in rodents i.e. the gastrointestinal tract, pancreatic beta cells, and specific compartments of the ear, nasal tissue and eye.
Normal brain function requires balanced development of excitatory and inhibitory synapses. An imbalance in synaptic transmission underlies many brain disorders such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, and autism. Compared with excitatory synapses, relatively little is known about the molecular control of inhibitory synapse development. We used a genetic approach in mice to identify the Ig superfamily member IgSF9/Dasm1 as a candidate homophilic synaptic adhesion protein that regulates inhibitory synapse development. IgSF9 is expressed in pyramidal cells and subsets of interneurons in the CA1 region of hippocampus. Electrophysiological recordings of acute hippocampal slices revealed that genetic inactivation of the IgSF9 gene resulted in fewer functional inhibitory synapses; however, the strength of the remaining synapses was unaltered. These physiological abnormalities were correlated with decreased expression of inhibitory synapse markers in IgSF9(-/-) mice, providing anatomical evidence for a reduction in inhibitory synapse numbers, whereas excitatory synapse development was normal. Surprisingly, knock-in mice expressing a mutant isoform of IgSF9 lacking the entire cytoplasmic domain (IgSF9(?C/?C) mice) had no defects in inhibitory synapse development, providing genetic evidence that IgSF9 regulates synapse development via ectodomain interactions rather than acting itself as a signaling receptor. Further, we found that IgSF9 mediated homotypic binding and cell aggregation, but failed to induce synapse formation, suggesting that IgSF9 acts as a cell adhesion molecule (CAM) to maintain synapses. Juvenile IgSF9(-/-) mice exhibited increased seizure susceptibility indicative of an imbalance in synaptic excitation and inhibition. These results provide genetic evidence for a specific role of IgSF9 in inhibitory synapse development/maintenance, presumably by its CAM-like activity.
The majority of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases as well as many patients suffering from frontotemporal lobar dementia (FTLD) with ubiquitinated inclusion bodies show TDP-43 pathology, the protein encoded by the TAR DNA-binding protein (Tardbp) gene. We used recombinase-mediated cassette exchange to introduce an ALS patient cDNA into the mouse Tdp-43 locus. Expression levels of human A315T TDP-43 protein were 300% elevated in heterozygotes, whereas the endogenous mouse Tdp-43 was decreased to 20% of wild type levels as a result of disturbed feedback regulation. Heterozygous TDP-43(A315TKi) mutants lost 10% of their body weight and developed insoluble TDP-43 protein starting as early as 3 months after birth, a pathology that was exacerbated with age. We analyzed the splicing patterns of known Tdp-43 target genes as well as genome-wide gene expression levels in different tissues that indicated mitochondrial dysfunction. In heterozygous mutant animals, we observed a relative decrease in expression of Parkin (Park2) and the fatty acid transporter CD36 along with an increase in fatty acids, HDL cholesterol, and glucose in the blood. As seen in transmission electron microscopy, neuronal cells in motor cortices of TDP-43(A315TKi) animals had abnormal neuronal mitochondrial cristae formation. Motor neurons were reduced to 90%, but only slight motoric impairment was detected. The observed phenotype was interpreted as a predisease model, which might be valuable for the identification of further environmental or genetic triggers of neurodegeneration.
Iron Regulatory Protein 2 (Irp2, Ireb2) is a central regulator of cellular iron homeostasis in vertebrates. Two global knockout mouse models have been generated to explore the role of Irp2 in regulating iron metabolism. While both mouse models show that loss of Irp2 results in microcytic anemia and altered body iron distribution, discrepant results have drawn into question the role of Irp2 in regulating brain iron metabolism. One model shows that aged Irp2 deficient mice develop adult-onset progressive neurodegeneration that is associated with axonal degeneration and loss of Purkinje cells in the central nervous system. These mice show iron deposition in white matter tracts and oligodendrocyte soma throughout the brain. A contrasting model of global Irp2 deficiency shows no overt or pathological signs of neurodegeneration or brain iron accumulation, and display only mild motor coordination and balance deficits when challenged by specific tests. Explanations for conflicting findings in the severity of the clinical phenotype, brain iron accumulation and neuronal degeneration remain unclear. Here, we describe an additional mouse model of global Irp2 deficiency. Our aged Irp2-/- mice show marked iron deposition in white matter and in oligodendrocytes while iron content is significantly reduced in neurons. Ferritin and transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1, Tfrc), expression are increased and decreased, respectively, in the brain from Irp2-/- mice. These mice show impairments in locomotion, exploration, motor coordination/balance and nociception when assessed by neurological and behavioral tests, but lack overt signs of neurodegenerative disease. Ultrastructural studies of specific brain regions show no evidence of neurodegeneration. Our data suggest that Irp2 deficiency dysregulates brain iron metabolism causing cellular dysfunction that ultimately leads to mild neurological, behavioral and nociceptive impairments.
Aging is a major risk factor for a large number of disorders and functional impairments. Therapeutic targeting of the aging process may therefore represent an innovative strategy in the quest for novel and broadly effective treatments against age-related diseases. The recent report of lifespan extension in mice treated with the FDA-approved mTOR inhibitor rapamycin represented the first demonstration of pharmacological extension of maximal lifespan in mammals. Longevity effects of rapamycin may, however, be due to rapamycins effects on specific life-limiting pathologies, such as cancers, and it remains unclear if this compound actually slows the rate of aging in mammals. Here, we present results from a comprehensive, large-scale assessment of a wide range of structural and functional aging phenotypes, which we performed to determine whether rapamycin slows the rate of aging in male C57BL/6J mice. While rapamycin did extend lifespan, it ameliorated few studied aging phenotypes. A subset of aging traits appeared to be rescued by rapamycin. Rapamycin, however, had similar effects on many of these traits in young animals, indicating that these effects were not due to a modulation of aging, but rather related to aging-independent drug effects. Therefore, our data largely dissociate rapamycins longevity effects from effects on aging itself.
The nuclei of most vertebrate cells contain members of the high mobility group N (HMGN) protein family, which bind specifically to nucleosome core particles and affect chromatin structure and function, including transcription. Here, we study the biological role of this protein family by systematic analysis of phenotypes and tissue transcription profiles in mice lacking functional HMGN variants. Phenotypic analysis of Hmgn1(tm1/tm1), Hmgn3(tm1/tm1), and Hmgn5(tm1/tm1) mice and their wild type littermates with a battery of standardized tests uncovered variant-specific abnormalities. Gene expression analysis of four different tissues in each of the Hmgn(tm1/tm1) lines reveals very little overlap between genes affected by specific variants in different tissues. Pathway analysis reveals that loss of an HMGN variant subtly affects expression of numerous genes in specific biological processes. We conclude that within the biological framework of an entire organism, HMGNs modulate the fidelity of the cellular transcriptional profile in a tissue- and HMGN variant-specific manner.
The mouse inbred line C57BL/6J is widely used in mouse genetics and its genome has been incorporated into many genetic reference populations. More recently large initiatives such as the International Knockout Mouse Consortium (IKMC) are using the C57BL/6N mouse strain to generate null alleles for all mouse genes. Hence both strains are now widely used in mouse genetics studies. Here we perform a comprehensive genomic and phenotypic analysis of the two strains to identify differences that may influence their underlying genetic mechanisms.
Smc5-6 is a highly conserved protein complex related to cohesin and condensin involved in the structural maintenance of chromosomes. In yeasts the Smc5-6 complex is essential for proliferation and is involved in DNA repair and homologous recombination. siRNA depletion of genes involved in the Smc5-6 complex in cultured mammalian cells results in sensitivity to some DNA damaging agents. In order to gain further insight into its role in mammals we have generated mice mutated in the Smc6 gene. A complete knockout resulted in early embryonic lethality, demonstrating that this gene is essential in mammals. However, mutation of the highly conserved serine-994 to alanine in the ATP hydrolysis motif in the SMC6 C-terminal domain, resulted in mice with a surprisingly mild phenotype. With the neo gene selection marker in the intron following the mutation, resulting in reduced expression of the SMC6 gene, the mice were reduced in size, but fertile and had normal lifespans. When the neo gene was removed, the mice had normal size, but detailed phenotypic analysis revealed minor abnormalities in glucose tolerance, haematopoiesis, nociception and global gene expression patterns. Embryonic fibroblasts derived from the ser994 mutant mice were not sensitive to killing by a range of DNA damaging agents, but they were sensitive to the induction of sister chromatid exchanges induced by ultraviolet light or mitomycin C. They also accumulated more oxidative damage than wild-type cells.
Huntingtons disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by the expansion of a CAG trinucleotide repeat in the HTT gene encoding huntingtin. The disease has an insidious course, typically progressing over 10-15 years until death. Currently there is no effective disease-modifying therapy. To better understand the HD pathogenic process we have developed genetic HTT CAG knock-in mouse models that accurately recapitulate the HD mutation in man. Here, we describe results of a broad, standardized phenotypic screen in 10-46 week old heterozygous HdhQ111 knock-in mice, probing a wide range of physiological systems. The results of this screen revealed a number of behavioral abnormalities in HdhQ111/+ mice that include hypoactivity, decreased anxiety, motor learning and coordination deficits, and impaired olfactory discrimination. The screen also provided evidence supporting subtle cardiovascular, lung, and plasma metabolite alterations. Importantly, our results reveal that a single mutant HTT allele in the mouse is sufficient to elicit multiple phenotypic abnormalities, consistent with a dominant disease process in patients. These data provide a starting point for further investigation of several organ systems in HD, for the dissection of underlying pathogenic mechanisms and for the identification of reliable phenotypic endpoints for therapeutic testing.
Uromodulin-associated kidney disease (UAKD) summarizes different clinical features of an autosomal dominant heritable disease syndrome in humans with a proven uromodulin (UMOD) mutation involved. It is often characterized by hyperuricemia, gout, alteration of urine concentrating ability, as well as a variable rate of disease progression inconstantly leading to renal failure and histological alterations of the kidneys. We recently established the two Umod mutant mouse lines Umod (C93F) and Umod (A227T) on the C3H inbred genetic background both showing kidney defects analogous to those found in human UAKD patients. In addition, disease symptoms were revealed that were not yet described in other published mouse models of UAKD. To examine if further organ systems and/or metabolic pathways are affected by Umod mutations as primary or secondary effects, we describe a standardized, systemic phenotypic analysis of the two mutant mouse lines Umod (A227T) and Umod (C93F) in the German Mouse Clinic. Different genotypes as well as different ages were tested. Beside the already published changes in body weight, body composition and bone metabolism, the influence of the Umod mutation on energy metabolism was confirmed. Hematological analysis revealed a moderate microcytic and erythropenic anemia in older Umod mutant mice. Data of the other analyses in 7-10 month-old mutant mice showed single small additional effects.
ADAR2, an RNA editing enzyme that converts specific adenosines to inosines in certain pre-mRNAs, often leading to amino acid substitutions in the encoded proteins, is mainly expressed in brain. Of all ADAR2-mediated edits, a single one in the pre-mRNA of the AMPA receptor subunit GluA2 is essential for survival. Hence, early postnatal death of mice lacking ADAR2 is averted when the critical edit is engineered into both GluA2 encoding Gria2 alleles. Adar2(-/-)/Gria2(R/R) mice display normal appearance and life span, but the general phenotypic effects of global lack of ADAR2 have remained unexplored. Here we have employed the Adar2(-/-)/Gria2(R/R) mouse line, and Gria2(R/R) mice as controls, to study the phenotypic consequences of loss of all ADAR2-mediated edits except the critical one in GluA2. Our extended phenotypic analysis covering ?320 parameters identified significant changes related to absence of ADAR2 in behavior, hearing ability, allergy parameters and transcript profiles of brain.
Model organisms like the mouse are important tools to learn more about gene function in man. Within the last 20 years many mutant mouse lines have been generated by different methods such as ENU mutagenesis, constitutive and conditional knock-out approaches, knock-down, introduction of human genes, and knock-in techniques, thus creating models which mimic human conditions. Due to pleiotropic effects, one gene may have different functions in different organ systems or time points during development. Therefore mutant mouse lines have to be phenotyped comprehensively in a highly standardized manner to enable the detection of phenotypes which might otherwise remain hidden. The German Mouse Clinic (GMC) has been established at the Helmholtz Zentrum München as a phenotyping platform with open access to the scientific community (www.mousclinic.de; ). The GMC is a member of the EUMODIC consortium which created the European standard workflow EMPReSSslim for the systemic phenotyping of mouse models (http://www.eumodic.org/).
Ischemic stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Only one moderately effective therapy exists, albeit with contraindications that exclude 90% of the patients. This medical need contrasts with a high failure rate of more than 1,000 pre-clinical drug candidates for stroke therapies. Thus, there is a need for translatable mechanisms of neuroprotection and more rigid thresholds of relevance in pre-clinical stroke models. One such candidate mechanism is oxidative stress. However, antioxidant approaches have failed in clinical trials, and the significant sources of oxidative stress in stroke are unknown. We here identify NADPH oxidase type 4 (NOX4) as a major source of oxidative stress and an effective therapeutic target in acute stroke. Upon ischemia, NOX4 was induced in human and mouse brain. Mice deficient in NOX4 (Nox4(-/-)) of either sex, but not those deficient for NOX1 or NOX2, were largely protected from oxidative stress, blood-brain-barrier leakage, and neuronal apoptosis, after both transient and permanent cerebral ischemia. This effect was independent of age, as elderly mice were equally protected. Restoration of oxidative stress reversed the stroke-protective phenotype in Nox4(-/-) mice. Application of the only validated low-molecular-weight pharmacological NADPH oxidase inhibitor, VAS2870, several hours after ischemia was as protective as deleting NOX4. The extent of neuroprotection was exceptional, resulting in significantly improved long-term neurological functions and reduced mortality. NOX4 therefore represents a major source of oxidative stress and novel class of drug target for stroke therapy.
A new spontaneous mouse mutant was characterized by closed eyelids at weaning and without apparent eyes (provisional gene name, eyeless; provisional gene symbol, eyl). The mutation follows a recessive pattern of inheritance and was mapped to the region of chromosome 19 containing Pitx3. Genetic complementation tests using Pitx3 ( ak/+ ) mice confirmed eyl as a new allele of Pitx3 (Pitx3 ( eyl )). Sequencing of the Pitx3 gene in eyl mutants identified an inserted G after cDNA position 416 (416insG; exon 4). The shifted open reading frame is predicted to result in a hybrid protein still containing the Pitx3 homeobox, but followed by 121 new amino acids. The novel Pitx3 ( eyl/eyl ) mutants expressed ophthalmological and brain defects similar to Pitx3 ( ak/ak ) mice: microphthalmia or anophthalmia and loss of dopamine neurons of the substantia nigra. In addition, we observed in the homozygous eyeless mutants increased extramedullary hematopoiesis in the spleen, frequently liver steatosis, and reduced body weight. There were also several behavioral changes in the homozygous mutants, including reduced forelimb grip strength and increased nociception. In addition to these alterations in both sexes, we observed in female Pitx3 ( eyl/eyl ) mice increased anxiety-related behavior, reduced locomotor activity, reduced object exploration, and increased social contacts; however, we observed decreased anxiety-related behavior and increased arousal in males. Most of these defects identified in the new Pitx3 mutation are observed in Parkinson patients, making the Pitx3 ( eyl ) mutant a valuable new model. It is the first mouse mutant carrying a point mutation within the coding region of Pitx3.
Thyroid hormone transport into cells requires plasma membrane transport proteins. Mutations in one of these, monocarboxylate transporter 8 (MCT8), have been identified as underlying cause for the Allan-Herndon-Dudley syndrome, an X-linked mental retardation in which the patients also present with abnormally high 3,3,5-triiodothyronine (T(3)) plasma levels. Mice deficient in Mct8 replicate the thyroid hormone abnormalities observed in the human condition. However, no neurological deficits have been described in mice lacking Mct8. Therefore, we subjected Mct8-deficient mice to a comprehensive immunohistochemical, neurological, and behavioral screen. Several behavioral abnormalities were found in the mutants. Interestingly, some of these behavioral changes are compatible with hypothyroidism, whereas others rather indicate hyperthyroidism. We thus hypothesized that neurons exclusively dependent on Mct8 are in a hypothyroid state, whereas neurons expressing other T(3) transporters become hyperthyroid, if they are exposed directly to the high plasma T(3). The majority of T(3) uptake in primary cortical neurons is mediated by Mct8, but pharmacological inhibition suggested functional expression of additional T(3) transporter classes. mRNAs encoding six T(3) transporters, including L-type amino acid transporters (LATs), were coexpressed with Mct8 in isolated neurons. We then demonstrated Lat2 expression in cultured neurons and throughout murine brain development. In contrast, LAT2 is expressed in microglia in the developing human brain during gestation, but not in neurons. We suggest that lack of functional complementation by alternative thyroid hormone transporters in developing human neurons precipitates the devastating neurodevelopmental phenotype in MCT8-deficient patients, whereas Mct8-deficient mouse neurons are functionally complemented by other transporters, for possibly Lat2.
The Tim23 protein is the key component of the mitochondrial import machinery. It locates to the inner mitochondrial membrane and its own import is dependent on the DDP1/TIM13 complex. Mutations in human DDP1 cause the Mohr-Tranebjaerg syndrome (MTS/DFN-1; OMIM #304700), which is one of the two known human diseases of the mitochondrial protein import machinery. We created a Tim23 knockout mouse from a gene trap embryonic stem cell clone. Homozygous Tim23 mice were not viable. Heterozygous F1 mutants showed a 50% reduction of Tim23 protein in Western blot, a neurological phenotype and a markedly reduced life span. Haploinsufficiency of the Tim23 mutation underlines the critical role of the mitochondrial import machinery for maintaining mitochondrial function.
Astrocytes are critical participants in synapse development and function, but their role in synaptic plasticity is unclear. Eph receptors and their ephrin ligands have been suggested to regulate neuron-glia interactions, and EphA4-mediated ephrin reverse signaling is required for synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. Here we show that long-term potentiation (LTP) at the CA3-CA1 synapse is modulated by EphA4 in the postsynaptic CA1 cell and by ephrin-A3, a ligand of EphA4 that is found in astrocytes. Lack of EphA4 increased the abundance of glial glutamate transporters, and ephrin-A3 modulated transporter currents in astrocytes. Pharmacological inhibition of glial glutamate transporters rescued the LTP defects in EphA4 (Epha4) and ephrin-A3 (Efna3) mutant mice. Transgenic overexpression of ephrin-A3 in astrocytes reduces glutamate transporter levels and produces focal dendritic swellings possibly caused by glutamate excitotoxicity. These results suggest that EphA4/ephrin-A3 signaling is a critical mechanism for astrocytes to regulate synaptic function and plasticity.
The Notch signaling pathway is an evolutionary conserved signal transduction pathway involved in embryonic patterning and regulation of cell fates during development and self-renewal. Recent studies have demonstrated that this pathway is integral to a complex system of interactions, involving as well other signal transduction pathways, and implicated in distinct human diseases. Delta-like 1 (Dll1) is one of the known ligands of the Notch receptors. The role of the Notch ligands is less well understood. Loss-of-function of Dll1 leads to embryonic lethality, but reduction of Delta-like 1 protein levels has not been studied in adult stage.
With the completion of the mouse genome sequence an essential task for biomedical sciences in the twenty-first century will be the generation and functional analysis of mouse models for every gene in the mammalian genome. More than 30,000 mutations in ES cells will be engineered and thousands of mouse disease models will become available over the coming years by the collaborative effort of the International Mouse Knockout Consortium. In order to realize the full value of the mouse models proper characterization, archiving and dissemination of mouse disease models to the research community have to be performed. Phenotyping centers (mouse clinics) provide the necessary capacity, broad expertise, equipment, and infrastructure to carry out large-scale systemic first-line phenotyping. Using the example of the German Mouse Clinic (GMC) we will introduce the reader to the different aspects of the organization of a mouse clinic and present selected methods used in first-line phenotyping.
It has been proposed that two amino acid substitutions in the transcription factor FOXP2 have been positively selected during human evolution due to effects on aspects of speech and language. Here, we introduce these substitutions into the endogenous Foxp2 gene of mice. Although these mice are generally healthy, they have qualitatively different ultrasonic vocalizations, decreased exploratory behavior and decreased dopamine concentrations in the brain suggesting that the humanized Foxp2 allele affects basal ganglia. In the striatum, a part of the basal ganglia affected in humans with a speech deficit due to a nonfunctional FOXP2 allele, we find that medium spiny neurons have increased dendrite lengths and increased synaptic plasticity. Since mice carrying one nonfunctional Foxp2 allele show opposite effects, this suggests that alterations in cortico-basal ganglia circuits might have been important for the evolution of speech and language in humans.
Under the label of the German Mouse Clinic (GMC), a concept has been developed and implemented that allows the better understanding of human diseases on the pathophysiological and molecular level. This includes better understanding of the crosstalk between different organs, pleiotropy of genes, and the systemic impact of envirotypes and drugs. In the GMC, experts from various fields of mouse genetics and physiology, in close collaboration with clinicians, work side by side under one roof. The GMC is an open-access platform for the scientific community by providing phenotypic analysis in bilateral collaborations ("bottom-up projects") and as a partner and driver in international large-scale biology projects ("top-down projects"). Furthermore, technology development is a major topic in the GMC. Innovative techniques for primary and secondary screens are developed and implemented into the phenotyping pipelines (e.g., detection of volatile organic compounds, VOCs).
Mutations in the SRGAP3 gene residing on chromosome 3p25 have previously been associated with intellectual disability. Genome-wide association studies have also revealed SRGAP3, together with genes from the same cellular network, as risk genes for schizophrenia. SRGAP3 regulates cytoskeletal dynamics through the RHO protein RAC1. RHO proteins are known to be involved in cytoskeletal reorganization during brain development to control processes such as synaptic plasticity. To elucidate the importance of SRGAP3 in brain development, we generated Srgap3-knockout mice. Ten percent of these mice developed a hydrocephalus and died before adulthood. Surviving mice showed various neuroanatomical changes, including enlarged lateral ventricles, white matter tracts, and dendritic spines together with molecular changes, including an increased basal activity of RAC1. Srgap3(-/-) mice additionally exhibited a complex behavioral phenotype. Behavioral studies revealed an impaired spontaneous alternation and social behavior, while long-term memory was unchanged. The animals also had tics. Lower locomotor activity was observed in male Srgap3(-/-) only. Srgap3(-/-) mice showed increased methylphenidate stimulation in males and an impaired prepulse inhibition in females. Together, the results show neurodevelopmental aberration in Srgap3(-/-) mice, with many of the observed phenotypes matching several schizophrenia-related intermediate phenotypes. Mutations of SRGAP3 may thus contribute to various neurodevelopmental disorders.
We analyzed two mutant mouse lines, ATE1 and ATE2, that carry point mutations in the enamelin gene which result in premature stop codons in exon 8 and exon 7, respectively. Both mutant lines show amelogenesis imperfecta. To establish the effect of mutations within the enamelin gene on different organs, we performed a systematic, standardized phenotypic analysis of both mutant lines in the German Mouse Clinic. In addition to the initially characterized tooth phenotype that is present in both mutant lines, we detected effects of enamelin mutations on bone and energy metabolism, as well as on clinical chemical and hematological parameters. These data raise the hypothesis that enamelin defects have pleiotropic effects on organs other than the teeth.
Cytochrome c oxidase (COX) is the terminal enzyme of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. The purpose of this study was to analyze the function of lung-specific cytochrome c oxidase subunit 4 isoform 2 (COX4i2) in vitro and in COX4i2-knockout mice in vivo. COX was isolated from cow lung and liver as control and functionally analyzed. COX4i2-knockout mice were generated and the effect of the gene knockout was determined, including COX activity, tissue energy levels, noninvasive and invasive lung function, and lung pathology. These studies were complemented by a comprehensive functional screen performed at the German Mouse Clinic (Neuherberg, Germany). We show that isolated cow lung COX containing COX4i2 is about twice as active (88 and 102% increased activity in the presence of allosteric activator ADP and inhibitor ATP, respectively) as liver COX, which lacks COX4i2. In COX4i2-knockout mice, lung COX activity and cellular ATP levels were significantly reduced (-50 and -29%, respectively). Knockout mice showed decreased airway responsiveness (60% reduced P(enh) and 58% reduced airway resistance upon challenge with 25 and 100 mg methacholine, respectively), and they developed a lung pathology deteriorating with age that included the appearance of Charcot-Leyden crystals. In addition, there was an interesting sex-specific phenotype, in which the knockout females showed reduced lean mass (-12%), reduced total oxygen consumption rate (-8%), improved glucose tolerance, and reduced grip force (-14%) compared to wild-type females. Our data suggest that high activity lung COX is a central determinant of airway function and is required for maximal airway responsiveness and healthy lung function. Since airway constriction requires energy, we propose a model in which reduced tissue ATP levels explain protection from airway hyperresponsiveness, i.e., absence of COX4i2 leads to reduced lung COX activity and ATP levels, which results in impaired airway constriction and thus reduced airway responsiveness; long-term lung pathology develops in the knockout mice due to impairment of energy-costly lung maintenance processes; and therefore, we propose mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation as a novel target for the treatment of respiratory diseases, such as asthma.
Cln3(?ex7/8) mice harbor the most common genetic defect causing juvenile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (JNCL), an autosomal recessive disease involving seizures, visual, motor and cognitive decline, and premature death. Here, to more thoroughly investigate the manifestations of the common JNCL mutation, we performed a broad phenotyping study of Cln3(?ex7/8) mice. Homozygous Cln3(?ex7/8) mice, congenic on a C57BL/6N background, displayed subtle deficits in sensory and motor tasks at 10-14 weeks of age. Homozygous Cln3(?ex7/8) mice also displayed electroretinographic changes reflecting cone function deficits past 5 months of age and a progressive decline of retinal post-receptoral function. Metabolic analysis revealed increases in rectal body temperature and minimum oxygen consumption in 12-13 week old homozygous Cln3(?ex7/8) mice, which were also seen to a lesser extent in heterozygous Cln3(?ex7/8) mice. Heart weight was slightly increased at 20 weeks of age, but no significant differences were observed in cardiac function in young adults. In a comprehensive blood analysis at 15-16 weeks of age, serum ferritin concentrations, mean corpuscular volume of red blood cells (MCV), and reticulocyte counts were reproducibly increased in homozygous Cln3(?) (ex7/8) mice, and male homozygotes had a relative T-cell deficiency, suggesting alterations in hematopoiesis. Finally, consistent with findings in JNCL patients, vacuolated peripheral blood lymphocytes were observed in homozygous Cln3(?) (ex7/8) neonates, and to a greater extent in older animals. Early onset, severe vacuolation in clear cells of the epididymis of male homozygous Cln3(?) (ex7/8) mice was also observed. These data highlight additional organ systems in which to study CLN3 function, and early phenotypes have been established in homozygous Cln3(?) (ex7/8) mice that merit further study for JNCL biomarker development.
Neurobeachin (Nbea) regulates neuronal membrane protein trafficking and is required for the development and functioning of central and neuromuscular synapses. In homozygous knockout (KO) mice, Nbea deficiency causes perinatal death. Here, we report that heterozygous KO mice haploinsufficient for Nbea have higher body weight due to increased adipose tissue mass. In several feeding paradigms, heterozygous KO mice consumed more food than wild-type (WT) controls, and this consumption was primarily driven by calories rather than palatability. Expression analysis of feeding-related genes in the hypothalamus and brainstem with real-time PCR showed differential expression of a subset of neuropeptide or neuropeptide receptor mRNAs between WT and Nbea+/- mice in the sated state and in response to food deprivation, but not to feeding reward. In humans, we identified two intronic NBEA single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are significantly associated with body-mass index (BMI) in adult and juvenile cohorts. Overall, data obtained in mice and humans suggest that variation of Nbea abundance or activity critically affects body weight, presumably by influencing the activity of feeding-related neural circuits. Our study emphasizes the importance of neural mechanisms in body weight control and points out NBEA as a potential risk gene in human obesity.
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