The characterization of modifier genes can provide insights into disease pathways and identify novel therapeutic targets. This study identifies Mtap1a as a modifier gene of photoreceptor loss in Tulp1 and Tub mutant mice, which are models of retinal degeneration.
To identify genes that modify photoreceptor cell loss in the retinas of homozygous Tulp1tm1Pjn and Tubtub mice, which exhibit juvenile retinitis pigmentosa.
Modifier loci were identified by genetic quantitative trait locus analysis. F2 Tulp1tm1Pjn/tm1Pjn mutant mice from a B6-Tulp1tm1Pjn/tm1Pjn × AKR/J intercross were genotyped with a panel of single nucleotide polymorphism markers and phenotyped by histology for photoreceptor nuclei remaining at 9 weeks of age. Genotype and phenotype data were correlated and examined with Pseudomarker 2.02 using 128 imputations to map modifier loci. Thresholds for the 63%, 10%, 5%, and 1% significance levels were obtained from 100 permutations. A significant, protective candidate modifier was identified by bioinformatic analysis and confirmed by crossing transgenic mice bearing a protective allele of this gene with Tulp1- and Tub-deficient mice.
A significant, protective modifier locus on chromosome 2 and a suggestive locus on chromosome 13 that increases photoreceptor loss were identified in a B6-Tulp1tm1Pjn/tm1Pjn × AKR/J intercross. The chromosome 2 locus mapped near Mtap1a, which encodes a protein associated with microtubule-based intracellular transport and synapse function. The protective Mtap1a129P2/OlaHsd allele was shown to reduce photoreceptor loss in both Tulp1tm1Pjn/tm1Pjn and Tubtub/tub mice.
It was demonstrated that the gene Mtap1a, which modifies hearing loss in Tubtub/tub mice, also modifies retinal degeneration in Tubtub/tub and Tulp1tm1Pjn/tm1Pjn mice. These results suggest that functionally nonredundant members of the TULP family (TUB and TULP1) share a common functional interaction with MTAP1A.
This study revealed a role for meckelin in the intraciliary trafficking of phototransduction molecules and in the elongation and maintenance of the photoreceptor outer segments.
Cilia, complex structures found ubiquitously in most vertebrate cells, serve a variety of functions ranging from cell and fluid movement, cell signaling, tissue homeostasis, to sensory perception. Meckelin is a component of ciliary and cell membranes and is encoded by Tmem67 (Mks3). In this study, the retinal morphology and ciliary function in a mouse model for Meckel Syndrome Type 3 (MKS3) throughout the course of photoreceptor development was examined.
To study the effects of a disruption in the Mks3 gene on the retina, the authors introduced a functional allele of Pde6b into B6C3Fe a/a-bpck/J mice and evaluated their retinas by ophthalmoscopic, histologic, and ultrastructural examination. In addition, immunofluorescence microscopy was used to assess protein trafficking through the connecting cilium and to examine the localization of ciliary and synaptic proteins in Tmem67bpck mice and controls.
Photoreceptors degenerate early and rapidly in bpck/bpck mutant mice. In addition, phototransduction proteins, such as rhodopsin, arrestin, and transducin, are mislocalized. Ultrastructural examination of photoreceptors reveal morphologically intact connecting cilia but dysmorphic and misoriented outer segment (OS) discs, at the earliest time point examined.
These findings underscore the important role for meckelin in intraciliary transport of phototransduction molecules and their effects on subsequent OS morphogenesis and maintenance.
The TALLYHO/Jng (TH) mouse strain is a polygenic model for type 2 diabetes characterized by moderate obesity, impaired glucose tolerance and uptake, insulin resistance, and hyperinsulinemia. The goal of this study was to elucidate the molecular mechanisms responsible for the reduced glucose uptake and insulin resistance in the adipose tissue of this model.
The translocation and localization of GLUT4 to the adipocyte plasma membrane were impaired in TH mice compared to control C57BL6/J (B6) mice. These defects were associated with decreased GLUT4 protein, reduced PI3 kinase activity and alterations in the phosphorylation status of IRS1. Activation of JNK 1/2, which can phosphorylate IRS1 on Ser307, was significantly higher in TH mice compared to B6 controls. IRS1 protein but not mRNA levels were found to be lower in TH mice than controls. Immunoprecipitation with anti-ubiquitin and western blot analysis of IRS1 protein revealed increased total IRS1 ubiquitination in adipose tissue of TH mice. SOCS1, known to promote IRS1 ubiquitination and subsequent degradation, was found at significantly higher levels in TH mice compared to B6. Immunohistochemistry showed that IRS1 co-localized with the 20S proteasome in proteasomal structures in TH adipocytes, supporting the notion that IRS1 is actively degraded.
Our findings suggest that increased IRS1 degradation and subsequent impaired GLUT4 mobilization play a role in the reduced glucose uptake in insulin resistant TH mice. Since low IRS1 levels are often observed in human type 2 diabetes, the TH mouse is an attractive model to investigate mechanisms of insulin resistance and explore new treatments.
IRS1 degradation; adipose tissue; type 2 diabetes; mice
Metabolic Syndrome (MS) encompasses a clustering of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including obesity, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia. We characterized a new mouse model carrying a dominant mutation, C57BL/6J-Nmf15/+ (B6-Nmf15/+), which develops additional complications of MS such as adipose tissue inflammation and cardiomyopathy.
A backcross was used to genetically map the Nmf15 locus. Mice were examined in the CLAMS™ animal monitoring system, and dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and blood chemistry analyses were performed. Hypothalamic LepR, SOCS1 and STAT3 phosphorylation were examined. Cardiac function was assessed by Echo- and Electro Cardiography. Adipose tissue inflammation was characterized by in situ hybridization and measurement of Jun kinase activity.
The Nmf15 locus mapped to distal mouse chromosome 5 with a LOD score of 13.8. Nmf15 mice developed obesity by 12 weeks of age. Plasma leptin levels were significantly elevated in pre-obese Nmf15 mice at 8 weeks of age and an attenuated STAT3 phosphorylation in the hypothalamus suggests a primary leptin resistance. Adipose tissue from Nmf15 mice showed a remarkable degree of inflammation and macrophage infiltration as indicated by expression of the F4/80 marker and increased phosphorylation of JNK1/2. Lipidosis was observed in tubular epithelial cells and glomeruli of the kidney. Nmf15 mice demonstrate both histological and pathophysiological evidence of cardiomyopathy.
The Nmf15 mouse model provides a new entry point into pathways mediating leptin resistance and obesity. It is one of few models that combine many aspects of metabolic syndrome and can be useful for testing new therapeutic approaches for combating obesity complications, particularly cardiomyopathy.
mouse model; hyperleptinemic obesity; adipose inflammation; renal lipidosis; cardiomyopathy; metabolic syndrome
Alström Syndrome is a clinically complex disorder characterized by childhood retinal degeneration leading to blindness, sensorineural hearing loss, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiomyopathy, systemic fibrosis, and pulmonary, hepatic, and renal failure. Alström Syndrome is caused by recessively inherited mutations in the ALMS1 gene, which codes for a putative ciliary protein. Alström Syndrome is characterized by extensive allelic heterogeneity, however founder effects have been observed in some populations. To date, more than 100 causative ALMS1 mutations have been identified, mostly frameshift and nonsense alterations resulting in termination signals in ALMS1. Here we report a complex Turkish kindred in which sequence analysis uncovered an insertion of a novel 333 basepair Alu Ya5 SINE retrotransposon in the ALMS1 coding sequence, a previously unrecognized mechanism underlying mutations causing Alström Syndrome. It is extraordinarily rare to encounter the insertion of an Alu retrotransposon in the coding sequence of a gene. The high frequency of the mutant ALMS1 allele in this isolated population suggests that this recent retrotransposition event spread quickly, and may be used as a model to study the population dynamics of deleterious alleles in isolated communities.
Alström Syndrome; ALMS1; Alu Ya5; Insertion Mutation; Short Interspersed Nuclear Elements (SINE)
Alström Syndrome (AS) is a rare ciliopathy characterized by cone–rod retinal dystrophy, sensorineural hearing loss, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiomyopathy. Most patients do not present with neurological issues and demonstrate normal intelligence, although delayed psychomotor development and psychiatric disorders have been reported. To date, brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) abnormalities in AS have not been explored.
We investigated structural brain changes in 12 genetically proven AS patients (mean-age 22 years; range: 6–45, 6 females) and 19 matched healthy and positive controls (mean-age 23 years; range: 6–43; 12 females) using conventional MRI, Voxel-Based Morphometry (VBM) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI).
6/12 AS patients presented with brain abnormalities such as ventricular enlargement (4/12), periventricular white matter abnormalities (3/12) and lacune-like lesions (1/12); all patients older than 30 years had vascular-like lesions. VBM detected grey and white matter volume reduction in AS patients, especially in the posterior regions. DTI revealed significant fractional anisotropy decrease and radial diffusivity increase in the supratentorial white matter, also diffusely involving those regions that appeared normal on conventional imaging. On the contrary, axial and mean diffusivity did not differ from controls except in the fornix.
Brain involvement in Alström syndrome is not uncommon. Early vascular-like lesions, gray and white matter atrophy, mostly involving the posterior regions, and diffuse supratentorial white matter derangement suggest a role of cilia in endothelial cell and oligodendrocyte function.
Alström syndrome; MRI; DTI; VBM
Bardet–Biedl syndrome (BBS; OMIM no. 209 900) and Alström syndrome (ALMS; OMIM no. 203 800) are rare, multisystem genetic disorders showing both a highly variable phenotype and considerable phenotypic overlap; they are included in the emerging group of diseases called ciliopathies. The genetic heterogeneity of BBS with 14 causal genes described to date, serves to further complicate mutational analysis. The development of the BBS–ALMS array which detects known mutations in these genes has allowed us to detect at least one mutation in 40.5% of BBS families and in 26.7% of ALMS families validating this as an efficient and cost-effective first pass screening modality. Furthermore, using this method, we found two BBS families segregating three BBS alleles further supporting oligogenicity or modifier roles for additional mutations. We did not observe more than two mutations in any ALMS family.
Bardet–Biedl syndrome; BBS; Alström syndrome; ALMS1; arrayed primer extension; mutation analysis
Nephronophthisis (NPHP) is an autosomal recessive kidney disease that is often associated with vision and/or brain defects. To date, 11 genes are known to cause NPHP. The gene products, while structurally unrelated, all localize to cilia or centrosomes. Although mouse models of NPHP are available for 9 of the 11 genes, none has been described for nephronophthisis 4 (Nphp4). Here we report a novel, chemically induced mutant, nmf192, that bears a nonsense mutation in exon 4 of Nphp4. Homozygous mutant Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 mice do not exhibit renal defects, phenotypes observed in human patients bearing mutations in NPHP4, but they do develop severe photoreceptor degeneration and extinguished rod and cone ERG responses by 9 weeks of age. Photoreceptor outer segments (OS) fail to develop properly, and some OS markers mislocalize to the inner segments and outer nuclear layer in the Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 mutant retina. Despite NPHP4 localization to the transition zone in the connecting cilia (CC), the CC appear to be normal in structure and ciliary transport function is partially retained. Likewise, synaptic ribbons develop normally but then rapidly degenerate by P14. Finally, Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 male mutants are sterile and show reduced sperm motility and epididymal sperm counts. Although Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 mice fail to recapitulate the kidney phenotype of NPHP, they will provide a valuable tool to further elucidate how NPHP4 functions in the retina and male reproductive organs.
This study illustrates the discovery of a MERTK model with a slowly progressive form of retinal degeneration. These mice also demonstrate protective accumulation of TNF in the retina.
To determine the basis and to characterize the phenotype of a chemically induced mutation in a mouse model of retinal degeneration.
Screening by indirect ophthalmoscopy identified a line of N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) mutagenized mice demonstrating retinal patches. Longitudinal studies of retinal histologic sections showed photoreceptors in the peripheral retina undergoing slow, progressive degeneration. The mutation was named neuroscience mutagenesis facility 12 (nmf12), and mapping localized the critical region to Chromosome 2.
Sequencing of nmf12 DNA revealed a point mutation in the c-mer tyrosine kinase gene, designated Mertknmf12. We detected elevated levels of tumor necrosis factor (Tnf, previously Tnfa) in retinas of Mertknmf12 homozygotes relative to wild-type controls and investigated whether the increase of TNF, an inflammatory cytokine produced by macrophages/monocytes that signals intracellularly to cause necrosis or apoptosis, could underlie the retinal degeneration observed in Mertknmf12 homozygotes. Mertknmf12 homozygous mice were mated to mice lacking the entire Tnf gene and partial coding sequences of the Lta (Tnfb) and Ltb (Tnfc) genes.2 B6.129P2-Ltb/Tnf/Ltatm1Dvk/J homozygotes did not exhibit a retinal degeneration phenotype and will, hereafter, be referred to as Tnfabc−/− mice. Surprisingly, mice homozygous for both the Mertknmf12 and the Ltb/Tnf/Ltatm1Dvk allele (Tnfabc−/−) demonstrated an increase in the rate of retinal degeneration.
These findings illustrate that a mutation in the Mertk gene leads to a significantly slower progressive retinal degeneration compared with other alleles of Mertk. These results demonstrate that TNF family members play a role in protecting photoreceptors of Mertknmf12 homozygotes from cell death.
Alström syndrome is a rare autosomal recessive genetic disorder characterized by cone-rod dystrophy, hearing loss, childhood truncal obesity, insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, type 2 diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia, short stature in adulthood, cardiomyopathy, and progressive pulmonary, hepatic, and renal dysfunction. Symptoms first appear in infancy and progressive development of multi-organ pathology leads to a reduced life expectancy. Variability in age of onset and severity of clinical symptoms, even within families, is likely due to genetic background.
Alström syndrome is caused by mutations in ALMS1, a large gene comprised of 23 exons and coding for a protein of 4,169 amino acids. In general, ALMS1 gene defects include insertions, deletions, and nonsense mutations leading to protein truncations and found primarily in exons 8, 10 and 16. Multiple alternate splice forms exist. ALMS1 protein is found in centrosomes, basal bodies, and cytosol of all tissues affected by the disease. The identification of ALMS1 as a ciliary protein explains the range of observed phenotypes and their similarity to those of other ciliopathies such as Bardet-Biedl syndrome.
Studies involving murine and cellular models of Alström syndrome have provided insight into the pathogenic mechanisms underlying obesity and type 2 diabetes, and other clinical problems. Ultimately, research into the pathogenesis of Alström syndrome should lead to better management and treatments for individuals, and have potentially important ramifications for other rare ciliopathies, as well as more common causes of obesity and diabetes, and other conditions common in the general population.
ALMS1; Alström syndrome; ciliopathy; truncal obesity.
The mutations that cause Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) lead to photoreceptor cell death at an early age, causing childhood blindness. To unravel the molecular basis of LCA, we analyzed how mutations in LCA5 affect the connectivity of the encoded protein lebercilin at the interactome level. In photoreceptors, lebercilin is uniquely localized at the cilium that bridges the inner and outer segments. Using a generally applicable affinity proteomics approach, we showed that lebercilin specifically interacted with the intraflagellar transport (IFT) machinery in HEK293T cells. This interaction disappeared when 2 human LCA-associated lebercilin mutations were introduced, implicating a specific disruption of IFT-dependent protein transport, an evolutionarily conserved basic mechanism found in all cilia. Lca5 inactivation in mice led to partial displacement of opsins and light-induced translocation of arrestin from photoreceptor outer segments. This was consistent with a defect in IFT at the connecting cilium, leading to failure of proper outer segment formation and subsequent photoreceptor degeneration. These data suggest that lebercilin functions as an integral element of selective protein transport through photoreceptor cilia and provide a molecular demonstration that disrupted IFT can lead to LCA.
This study characterizes a chemically induced mutation leading to an early stop codon in CLCN2 that causes photoreceptor degeneration, leukoencephalopathy, and azoospermia. Loss of one functional Clcn2 allele significantly reduced the electroretinogram light peak response, suggesting that this chloride channel is necessary for the generation of this response.
To determine the molecular basis and the pathologic consequences of a chemically induced mutation in a mouse model of photoreceptor degeneration, nmf240.
Mice from a G3 N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea mutagenesis program were screened by indirect ophthalmoscopy for abnormal fundi. A chromosomal position for the recessive nmf240 mutation was determined by a genome-wide linkage analysis by use of simple sequence length polymorphic markers in an F2 intercross. The critical region was refined, and candidate genes were screened by direct sequencing. The nmf240 phenotype was characterized by histologic analysis of the retina, brain, and male reproductive organs and by electroretinogram (ERG)-based studies of the retina and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE).
Clinically, homozygous nmf240 mutants exhibit a grainy retina that progresses to panretinal patches of depigmentation. The mutation was localized to a region on chromosome 16 containing Clcn2, a gene associated with retinal degeneration. Sequencing identified a missense C-T mutation at nucleotide 1063 in Clcn2 that converts a glutamine to a stop codon. Mice homozygous for the Clcn2nmf240 mutation experience a severe loss of photoreceptor cells at 14 days of age that is preceded by an elongation of RPE apical microvilli. Homozygous mutants also experience leukoencephalopathy in multiple brain areas and male sterility. Despite a normal retinal histology in nmf240 heterozygotes, the ERG light peak, generated by the RPE, is reduced.
The nmf240 phenotype closely resembles that reported for Clcn2 knockout mice. The observation that heterozygous nmf240 mice present with a reduced ERG light peak component suggests that CLCN2 is necessary for the generation of this response component.
The function of the retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator interacting protein 1 (RPGRIP1) gene is currently not known. However, mutations within the gene lead to Leber Congenital Amaurosis and autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa in human patients. In a previously described knockout mouse model of the long splice variant of Rpgrip1, herein referred to as Rpgrip1tm1Tili mice, mislocalization of key outer segment proteins and dysmorphogenesis of outer segment discs preceded subsequent photoreceptor degeneration. In this report, we describe a new mouse model carrying a splice acceptor site mutation in Rpgrip1, herein referred to as Rpgrip1nmf247 that is phenotypically distinct from Rpgrip1tm1Tili mice. Photoreceptor degeneration in homozygous Rpgrip1nmf247 mice is earlier in onset and more severe when compared with Rpgrip1tm1Tili mice. Also, ultrastructural studies reveal that whereas Rpgrip1nmf247 mutants have a normal structure and number of connecting cilia, unlike Rpgrip1tm1Tili mice, they do not elaborate rod outer segments (OS). Therefore, in addition to its role in OS disc morphogenesis, RPGRIP1 is essential for rod OS formation. Our study indicates the absence of multiple Rpgrip1 isoforms in Rpgrip1nmf247 mice, suggesting different isoforms may play different roles in photoreceptors and underscores the importance of considering splice variants when generating targeted null mutations.
The need for mouse models, with their well-developed genetics and similarity to human physiology and anatomy, is clear and their central role in furthering our understanding of human disease is readily apparent in the literature. Mice carrying mutations that alter developmental pathways or cellular function provide model systems for analyzing defects in comparable human disorders and for testing therapeutic strategies. Mutant mice also provide reproducible, experimental systems for elucidating pathways of normal development and function. Two programs, the Eye Mutant Resource and the Translational Vision Research Models, focused on providing such models to the vision research community are described herein. Over 100 mutant lines from the Eye Mutant Resource and 60 mutant lines from the Translational Vision Research Models have been developed. The ocular diseases of the mutant lines include a wide range of phenotypes, including cataracts, retinal dysplasia and degeneration, and abnormal blood vessel formation. The mutations in disease genes have been mapped and in some cases identified by direct sequencing. Here, we report 3 novel alleles of Crxtvrm65, Rp1tvrm64, and Rpe65tvrm148 as successful examples of the TVRM program, that closely resemble previously reported knockout models.
The retinal transcription factor Nr2e3 plays a key role in photoreceptor development and function. In this study we examine gene expression in the retina of Nr2e3rd7/rd7 mutants with respect to wild-type control mice, to identify genes that are misregulated and hence potentially function in the Nr2e3 transcriptional network. Quantitative candidate gene real time PCR and subtractive hybridization approaches were used to identify transcripts that were misregulated in Nr2e3rd7/rd7 mice. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays were then used to determine which of the misregulated transcripts were direct targets of NR2E3. We identified 24 potential targets of NR2E3. In the developing retina, NR2E3 targets transcription factors such as Ror1, Rorg, and the nuclear hormone receptors Nr1d1 and Nr2c1. In the mature retina NR2E3 targets several genes including the rod specific gene Gnb1 and cone specific genes blue opsin, and two of the cone transducin subunits, Gnat2 and Gnb3. In addition, we identified 5 novel transcripts that are targeted by NR2E3. While mislocalization of proteins between rods and cones was not observed, we did observe diminished concentration of GNB1 protein in adult Nr2e3rd7/rd7 retinas. These studies identified novel transcriptional pathways that are potentially targeted by Nr2e3 in the retina and specifically demonstrate a novel role for NR2E3 in regulating genes involved in phototransduction.
Once a mutation in the gene tub was identified as the cause of obesity, retinal degeneration and hearing loss in tubby mice1–2, it became increasingly evident that the members of the tub gene family (tulps) influence maintenance and function of the neuronal cell lineage3–6. Suggested molecular functions of tubby-like proteins include roles in vesicular trafficking4,7, mediation of insulin signaling8 and gene transcription9,10. The mechanisms through which tub functions in neurons, however, have yet to be elucidated. Here we report the positional cloning of an auditory quantitative trait locus (QTL), the modifier of tubby hearing 1 gene (moth1)11, whose wildtype alleles from strains AKR/J, CAST/Ei and 129P2/OlaHsd protect tubby mice from hearing loss. Through a transgenic rescue experiment, we verified that sequence polymorphisms in the neuron-specific microtubule-associated protein 1a gene (Mtap1a) observed in the susceptible strain C57BL/6J (B6) are crucial for the hearing-loss phenotype. We also show that these polymorphisms change the binding efficiency of MTAP1A to postsynaptic density molecule 95 (PSD95), a core component in the cytoarchitecture of synapses. This indicates that at least some of the observed polymorphisms are functionally important and that the hearing loss in C57BL/6J-tub/tub (B6-tub/tub) mice may be caused by impaired protein interactions involving MTAP1A. We therefore propose that tub may be associated with synaptic function in neuronal cells.
Alström syndrome (AS; MIM 203800) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by cone-rod dystrophy, dilated cardiomyopathy, sensorineural hearing impairment, developmental delay, and most case had both childhood-onset obesity and hyperinsulinemia. Currently, the pathogenesis of this disease is not clear. Here we report an 18-month-old boy with Alström syndrome. He had obesity but with normal insulin and glucose levels. Molecular analysis of the ALMS1 gene revealed a homozygous deletion 11116_11134 del n(19) in exon 16. His body mass index decreased from 25.0 to 20.7 after calorie restriction for 9 months, and his insulin and glucose levels remained normal. Finding in this case suggests that hyperinsulinemia is a secondary event in Alström syndrome, and early-commenced treatment prevents hyperinsulinemia.
Alström syndrome; ALMS1; obesity; hyperinsulinemia; calorie restriction
The heterotetrameric phosphodiesterase (PDE) 6 complex, made up of α, β and two γ subunits, regulates intracellular cGMP levels by hydrolyzing cGMP in response to light activation of G protein coupled receptors in cones and rods, making it an essential component of the visual phototransduction cascade [Zhang, X. and Cote, R.H. (2005) cGMP signaling in vertebrate retinal photoreceptor cells. Front. Biosci., 10, 1191–1204.]. Using a genetic positional candidate cloning strategy, we have identified missense mutations within the catalytic domain of the Pde6a gene in two mouse models from an ethyl nitrosourea chemical mutagenesis screen. In these first small rodent models of PDE6A, significantly different biochemical outcomes and rates of degeneration of murine photoreceptor cells were observed, indicating allelic variation and previously unrecognized structure–function relationships. In addition, these new models reveal that the mutations not only affect the function of the PDE6A protein itself, but also the level of PDE6B within the retina. Finally, we show that the variation of the disease phenotype by background modifier genes may be dependent upon the particular disease allele present.
A 4 base pair deletion in a splice donor site of the Mfrp (membrane-type frizzled-related protein) gene, herein referred to as Mfrprd6/rd6, is predicted to lead to the skipping of exon 4 and photoreceptor degeneration in retinal degeneration 6 (rd6) mutant mice. Little, however, is known about the function of the protein or how the mutation causes the degenerative retinal phenotype. Here we examine ultrastructural changes in the retina of Mfrprd6/rd6 mice to determine the earliest effects of the mutation. We also extend the reported observations of the expression pattern of the dicistronic Mfrp/C1qtnf5 message and the localization of these and other retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and retinal proteins during development and assess the ability of RPE cells to phagocytize outer segments in mutant and WT mice. At the ultrastructural level, outer segments do not develop normally in Mfrprd6/rd6 mutants. They are disorganized and become progressively shorter as mutant mice age. Additionally, there are focal areas in which there is a reduction of apical RPE microvilli. At P25, the rod ERG a-wave of Mfrprd6/rd6 mice is reduced in amplitude by ~50% as are ERG components generated by the RPE. Examination of β-catenin localization and Fos and Tcf-1 expression, intermediates of the canonical Wnt-pathway, showed they were not different between mutant and WT mice, suggesting that MFRP may operate through an alternative pathway. Finally, impaired outer segment phagocytosis was observed in Mfrprd6/rd6 mice both in standard ambient lighting conditions and with bright light exposure when compared to WT controls.
Mfrp; C1qtnf5; Retinal Pigment Epithelium; Phagocytosis; Outer Segments
Carbonic anhydrase related protein 8 (Car8) is known to be abundantly expressed in Purkinje cells (PCs), and its genetic mutation causes a motor coordination defect. To determine the underlying mechanism, we analyzed the mouse cerebellum carrying a Car8 mutation. Electrophysiological analysis showed that spontaneous excitatory transmission was largely diminished while paired pulse ratio at parallel fiber-PC synapses was comparable to wild-type, suggesting functional synapses have normal release probability but the number of functional synapses may be lower in mutants. Light microscopic study revealed an abnormal extension of climbing fibers to the distal PC dendrites. At ultrastructural level, we found numerous PC spines not forming synapses primarily in distal dendrites and occasionally multiple spines contacting a single varicosity. These abnormalities of parallel fiber-PC synapses may underlie the functional defect in excitatory transmission. Thus, Car8 plays a critical role in synaptogenesis and/or maintenance of proper synaptic morphology and function in the cerebellum.
Recent developments in sequence databases provide the opportunity to relate the expression pattern of genes to their genomic position, thus creating a transcriptome map. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) are phenotypically-defined chromosomal regions that contribute to allelically variant biological traits, and by overlaying QTL on the transcriptome, the search for candidate genes becomes extremely focused.
We used our novel data mining tool, ExQuest, to select genes within known diabesity QTL showing enriched expression in primary diabesity affected tissues. We then quantified transcripts in adipose, pancreas, and liver tissue from Tally Ho mice, a multigenic model for Type II diabetes (T2D), and from diabesity-resistant C57BL/6J controls. Analysis of the resulting quantitative PCR data using the Global Pattern Recognition analytical algorithm identified a number of genes whose expression is altered, and thus are novel candidates for diabesity QTL and/or pathways associated with diabesity.
Transcription-based data mining of genes in QTL-limited intervals followed by efficient quantitative PCR methods is an effective strategy for identifying genes that may contribute to complex pathophysiological processes.
Alström syndrome (ALMS) is a progressive multi-systemic disorder characterized by cone-rod dystrophy, sensorineural hearing loss, childhood obesity, insulin resistance and cardiac, renal, and hepatic dysfunction. The gene responsible for Alström syndrome, ALMS1, is ubiquitously expressed and has multiple splice variants. The protein encoded by this gene has been implicated in ciliary function, cell cycle control, and intracellular transport. To gain better insight into the pathways through which ALMS1 functions, we carried out a yeast two hybrid (Y2H) screen in several mouse tissue libraries to identify ALMS1 interacting partners. The majority of proteins found to interact with the murine carboxy-terminal end (19/32) of ALMS1 were α-actinin isoforms. Interestingly, several of the identified ALMS1 interacting partners (α-actinin 1, α-actinin 4, myosin Vb, rad50 interacting 1 and huntingtin associated protein1A) have been previously associated with endosome recycling and/or centrosome function. We examined dermal fibroblasts from human subjects bearing a disruption in ALMS1 for defects in the endocytic pathway. Fibroblasts from these patients had a lower uptake of transferrin and reduced clearance of transferrin compared to controls. Antibodies directed against ALMS1 N- and C-terminal epitopes label centrosomes and endosomal structures at the cleavage furrow of dividing MDCK cells, respectively, suggesting isoform-specific cellular functions. Our results suggest a role for ALMS1 variants in the recycling endosome pathway and give us new insights into the pathogenesis of a subset of clinical phenotypes associated with ALMS.
Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis of genetic crosses has proven to be a useful tool for identifying loci associated with specific phenotypes and for dissecting genetic components of complex traits. Inclusion of a mutation that interacts epistatically with QTLs in genetic crosses is a unique and potentially powerful method of revealing the function of novel genes and pathways. Although we know that a mutation within the novel tub gene leads to obesity and cochlear and retinal degeneration, the biological function of the gene and the mechanism by which it induces its phenotypes are not known. In the current study, a QTL analysis for auditory brainstem response (ABR) thresholds, which indicates hearing ability, was performed in tubby mice from F2 intercrosses between C57BL/6J-tub/tub and AKR/J-+/+ F1, hybrids (AKR intercross) and between C57BL/6J-tub/tub and CAST/Ei.B6-tub/tub F1 hybrids (CAST intercross). A major QTL, designated as modifier of tubby hearing1 (moth1), was identified on chromosome 2 with a LOD score of 33.4 (P <; 10−33) in the AKR intercross (181 mice) and of 6.0 (P <; 10−6) in the CAST intercross (46 mice). This QTL is responsible for 57 and 43% of ABR threshold variance, respectively, in each strain combination. In addition, a C57BL/6J congenic line carrying a 129/Ola segment encompassing the described QTL region when made homozygous for tubby also exhibits normal hearing ability. We hypothesize that C57BL/6J carries a recessive mutation of the moth1 gene which interacts with the tub mutation to cause hearing loss in tub/tub mice. A moth1 allele from either AKR/J, CAST/Ei or 129/Ola is sufficient to protect C57BL/6J-tub/tub mice from hearing loss.
Alström Syndrome (ALMS) is a rare genetic disorder (483 living cases), characterized by many clinical manifestations, including blindness, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiomyopathy. ALMS is caused by mutations in the ALMS1 gene, encoding for a large protein with implicated roles in ciliary function, cellular quiescence and intracellular transport. Patients with ALMS have extensive fibrosis in nearly all tissues resulting in a progressive organ failure which is often the ultimate cause of death. To focus on the role of ALMS1 mutations in the generation and maintenance of this pathological fibrosis, we performed gene expression analysis, ultrastructural characterization and functional assays in 4 dermal fibroblast cultures from ALMS patients. Using a genome-wide gene expression analysis we found alterations in genes belonging to specific categories (cell cycle, extracellular matrix (ECM) and fibrosis, cellular architecture/motility and apoptosis). ALMS fibroblasts display cytoskeleton abnormalities and migration impairment, up-regulate the expression and production of collagens and despite the increase in the cell cycle length are more resistant to apoptosis. Therefore ALMS1-deficient fibroblasts showed a constitutively activated myofibroblast phenotype even if they do not derive from a fibrotic lesion. Our results support a genetic basis for the fibrosis observed in ALMS and show that both an excessive ECM production and a failure to eliminate myofibroblasts are key mechanisms. Furthermore, our findings suggest new roles for ALMS1 in both intra- and extra-cellular events which are essential not only for the normal cellular function but also for cell-cell and ECM-cell interactions.