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1.  Dysfunction of spatacsin leads to axonal pathology in SPG11-linked hereditary spastic paraplegia 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(18):4859-4874.
Hereditary spastic paraplegias are a group of inherited motor neuron diseases characterized by progressive paraparesis and spasticity. Mutations in the spastic paraplegia gene SPG11, encoding spatacsin, cause an autosomal-recessive disease trait; however, the precise knowledge about the role of spatacsin in neurons is very limited. We for the first time analyzed the expression and function of spatacsin in human forebrain neurons derived from human pluripotent stem cells including lines from two SPG11 patients and two controls. SPG11 patients'-derived neurons exhibited downregulation of specific axonal-related genes, decreased neurite complexity and accumulation of membranous bodies within axonal processes. Altogether, these data point towards axonal pathologies in human neurons with SPG11 mutations. To further corroborate spatacsin function, we investigated human pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons and mouse cortical neurons. In these cells, spatacsin was located in axons and dendrites. It colocalized with cytoskeletal and synaptic vesicle (SV) markers and was present in synaptosomes. Knockdown of spatacsin in mouse cortical neurons evidenced that the loss of function of spatacsin leads to axonal instability by downregulation of acetylated tubulin. Finally, time-lapse assays performed in SPG11 patients'-derived neurons and spatacsin-silenced mouse neurons highlighted a reduction in the anterograde vesicle trafficking indicative of impaired axonal transport. By employing SPG11 patient-derived forebrain neurons and mouse cortical neurons, this study provides the first evidence that SPG11 is implicated in axonal maintenance and cargo trafficking. Understanding the cellular functions of spatacsin will allow deciphering mechanisms of motor cortex dysfunction in autosomal-recessive hereditary spastic paraplegia.
PMCID: PMC4140466  PMID: 24794856
2.  Polymorphisms in the Hsp70 gene locus are genetically associated with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(11):1983-1989.
Heat shock proteins (Hsps) play a role in the delivery and presentation of antigenic peptides and are thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of multifactorial diseases.
To investigate genes encoding cytosolic Hsp70 proteins for associations of allelic variants with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Case–control studies of two independent Caucasian SLE cohorts were performed. In a haplotype-tagging single-nucleotide polymorphism approach, common variants of HspA1L, HspA1A and HspA1B were genotyped and principal component analyses were performed for the cohort from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). Relative quantification of mRNA was carried out for each Hsp70 gene in healthy controls. Conditional regression analysis was performed to determine if allelic variants in Hsp70 act independently of HLA-DR3.
On analysis of common genetic variants of HspA1L, HspA1A and HspA1B, a haplotype significantly associated with SLE in the Erlangen-SLE cohort was identified, which was confirmed in the OMRF cohort. Depending on the cohorts, OR ranging from 1.43 to 1.88 and 2.64 to 3.16 was observed for individuals heterozygous and homozygous for the associated haplotype, respectively. Patients carrying the risk haplotype or the risk allele more often displayed autoantibodies to Ro and La in both cohorts. In healthy controls bearing this haplotype, the amount of HspA1A mRNA was significantly increased, whereas total Hsp70 protein concentration was not altered.
Allelic variants of the Hsp70 genes are significantly associated with SLE in Caucasians, independently of HLA-DR3, and correlate with the presence of autoantibodies to Ro and La. Hence, the Hsp70 gene locus appears to be involved in SLE pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3002760  PMID: 20498198

Results 1-2 (2)