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1.  Independent degeneration of photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium in conditional knockout mouse models of choroideremia 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(2):386-394.
Choroideremia (CHM) is an X-linked degeneration of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), photoreceptors, and choroid, caused by loss of function of the CHM/REP1 gene. REP1 is involved in lipid modification (prenylation) of Rab GTPases, key regulators of intracellular vesicular transport and organelle dynamics. To study the pathogenesis of CHM and to develop a model for assessing gene therapy, we have created a conditional mouse knockout of the Chm gene. Heterozygous-null females exhibit characteristic hallmarks of CHM: progressive degeneration of the photoreceptors, patchy depigmentation of the RPE, and Rab prenylation defects. Using tamoxifen-inducible and tissue-specific Cre expression in combination with floxed Chm alleles, we show that CHM pathogenesis involves independently triggered degeneration of photoreceptors and the RPE, associated with different subsets of defective Rabs.
PMCID: PMC1326146  PMID: 16410831
2.  A General Role for Rab27a in Secretory CellsD⃞V⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2004;15(1):332-344.
Vesicular transport is a complex multistep process regulated by distinct Rab GTPases. Here, we show for the first time that an EGFP-Rab fusion protein is fully functional in a mammalian organism. We constructed a PAC-based transgenic mouse, which expresses EGFP-Rab27a under the control of endogenous Rab27a promoter. The EGFP-Rab27a transgene was fully functional and rescued the two major defects of the ashen Rab27a knockout mouse. We achieved cell-specific expression of EGFP-Rab27a, which faithfully followed the pattern of expression of endogenous Rab27a. We found that Rab27a is expressed in an exceptionally broad range of specialized secretory cells, including exocrine (particularly in mucin- and zymogen-secreting cells), endocrine, ovarian, and hematopoietic cells, most of which undergo regulated exocytosis. We suggest that Rab27a acts in concert with Rab3 proteins in most regulated secretory events. The present strategy represents one way in which the complex pattern of expression and function of proteins involved in specialized cell types may be unraveled.
PMCID: PMC307551  PMID: 14617806
3.  Rapid degradation of dominant-negative Rab27 proteins in vivo precludes their use in transgenic mouse models 
BMC Cell Biology  2002;3:26.
Transgenic mice have proven to be a powerful system to study normal and pathological gene functions. Here we describe an attempt to generate a transgenic mouse model for choroideremia (CHM), a slow-onset X-linked retinal degeneration caused by mutations in the Rab Escort Protein-1 (REP1) gene. REP1 is part of the Rab geranylgeranylation machinery, a modification that is essential for Rab function in membrane traffic. The loss of REP1 in CHM patients may trigger retinal degeneration through its effects on Rab proteins. We have previously reported that Rab27a is the Rab most affected in CHM lymphoblasts and hypothesised that the selective dysfunction of Rab27a (and possibly a few other Rab GTPases) plays an essential role in the retinal degenerative process.
To investigate this hypothesis, we generated several lines of dominant-negative, constitutively-active and wild-type Rab27a (and Rab27b) transgenic mice whose expression was driven either by the pigment cell-specific tyrosinase promoter or the ubiquitous β-actin promoter. High levels of mRNA and protein were observed in transgenic lines expressing wild-type or constitutively active Rab27a and Rab27b. However, only modest levels of transgenic protein were expressed. Pulse-chase experiments suggest that the dominant-negative proteins, but not the constitutively-active or wild type proteins, are rapidly degraded. Consistently, no significant phenotype was observed in our transgenic lines. Coat-colour was normal, indicating normal Rab27a activity. Retinal function as determined by fundoscopy, angiography, electroretinography and histology was also normal.
We suggest that the instability of the dominant-negative mutant Rab27 proteins in vivo precludes the use of this approach to generate mouse models of disease caused by Rab27 GTPases.
PMCID: PMC137576  PMID: 12401133
5.  Functional redundancy of Rab27 proteins and the pathogenesis of Griscelli syndrome 
Griscelli syndrome (GS) patients and the corresponding mouse model ashen exhibit defects mainly in two types of lysosome-related organelles, melanosomes in melanocytes and lytic granules in CTLs. This disease is caused by loss-of-function mutations in RAB27A, which encodes 1 of the 60 known Rab GTPases, critical regulators of vesicular transport. Here we present evidence that Rab27a function can be compensated by a closely related protein, Rab27b. Rab27b is expressed in platelets and other tissues but not in melanocytes or CTLs. Morphological and functional tests in platelets derived from ashen mice are all within normal limits. Both Rab27a and Rab27b are found associated with the limiting membrane of platelet-dense granules and to a lesser degree with α-granules. Ubiquitous transgenic expression of Rab27a or Rab27b rescues ashen coat color, and melanocytes derived from transgenic mice exhibit widespread peripheral distribution of melanosomes instead of the perinuclear clumping observed in ashen melanocytes. Finally, transient expression in ashen melanocytes of Rab27a or Rab27b, but not other Rab’s, restores peripheral distribution of melanosomes. Our data suggest that Rab27b is functionally redundant with Rab27a and that the pathogenesis of GS is determined by the relative expression of Rab27a and Rab27b in specialized cell types.
PMCID: PMC151050  PMID: 12122117

Results 1-5 (5)