Nesprin 1 is an outer nuclear membrane protein that is thought to link the nucleus to the actin cytoskeleton. Recent data suggest that mutations in Nesprin 1 may also be involved in the pathogenesis of Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy. To investigate the function of Nesprin 1 in vivo, we generated a mouse model in which all isoforms of Nesprin 1 containing the C-terminal spectrin-repeat region with or without KASH domain were ablated. Nesprin 1 knockout mice are marked by decreased survival rates, growth retardation and increased variability in body weight. Additionally, nuclear positioning and anchorage are dysfunctional in skeletal muscle from knockout mice. Physiological testing demonstrated no significant reduction in stress production in Nesprin 1-deficient skeletal muscle in either neonatal or adult mice, but a significantly lower exercise capacity in knockout mice. Nuclear deformation testing revealed ineffective strain transmission to nuclei in muscle fibers lacking Nesprin 1. Overall, our data show that Nesprin 1 is essential for normal positioning and anchorage of nuclei in skeletal muscle.
The main immunogenic region (MIR) is a conformation-dependent region at the extracellular apex of α1 subunits of muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) that is the target of half or more of the autoantibodies to muscle AChRs in human myasthenia gravis and rat experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis. By making chimeras of human α1 subunits with α7 subunits, both MIR epitopes recognized by rat mAbs and by the patient-derived human mAb 637 to the MIR were determined to consist of two discontiguous sequences, which are adjacent only in the native conformation. The MIR, including loop α1 67–76 in combination with the N-terminal α helix α1 1–14, conferred high-affinity binding for most rat mAbs to the MIR. However, an additional sequence corresponding to α1 15–32 was required for high-affinity binding of human mAb 637. A water soluble chimera of Aplysia acetylcholine binding protein with the same α1 MIR sequences substituted was recognized by a majority of human, feline, and canine MG sera. The presence of the α1 MIR sequences in α1/α7 chimeras greatly promoted AChR expression and significantly altered the sensitivity to activation. This reveals a structural and functional, as well as antigenic, significance of the MIR.
myasthenia gravis; autoimmunity; AChR; antigenic structure
Sporadic inclusion body myositis (sIBM) is the most common myopathy in people over the age of 50 years. While immune-mediated inflammatory myopathies are well documented in dogs, sIBM has not been described. An 11-year-old dog with chronic and progressive neuromuscular dysfunction was evaluated for evidence of sIBM using current pathologic, immunohistochemical and electron microscopic diagnostic criteria. Vacuoles and congophilic intracellular inclusions were identified in cryostat sections of multiple muscle biopsies and immunostained with antibodies against amyloid-β peptide, amyloid-β precursor protein, and proteosome 20S of the ubiquitin–proteosome system. Cellular infiltration and increased expression of MHC Class I antigen were observed. Cytoplasmic filamentous inclusions, membranous structures, and myeloid bodies were identified ultrastructurally. These observations constitute the first evidence that both the inflammatory and degenerative features of human sIBM can occur in a non-human species.
Canine; Muscle; Myopathy; Inflammatory; Aging
Axonal dysfunction is the major phenotypic change in many neurodegenerative diseases, but the processes underlying this impairment are not clear. Modifier of cell adhesion (MOCA) is a presenilin binding protein that functions as a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rac1. The loss of MOCA in mice leads to axonal degeneration and causes sensorimotor impairments by decreasing cofilin phosphorylation and altering its upstream signaling partners LIM kinase and p21-activated kinase, an enzyme directly downstream of Rac1. The dystrophic axons found in MOCA-deficient mice are associated with abnormal aggregates of neurofilament protein, the disorganization of the axonal cytoskeleton, and the accumulation of autophagic vacuoles and polyubiquitinated proteins. Furthermore, MOCA deficiency causes an alteration in the actin cytoskeleton and the formation of cofilin-containing rod-like structures. The dystrophic axons show functional abnormalities, including impaired axonal transport. These findings demonstrate that MOCA is required for maintaining the functional integrity of axons and define a model for the steps leading to axonal degeneration.
MOCA; DOCK180; guanine nucleotide exchange factor; axonal degeneration; neurodegeneration; sensorimotor defects
Endoneurial capillaries in nerve biopsies from 12 adult diabetic cats with varying degrees of neurological dysfunction were examined for evidence of microvascular pathology and compared to nerves obtained at autopsy from 7 adult non-diabetic cats without clinical evidence of neurological dysfunction. As reported previously (Mizisin et al., 2007), the diabetic cats had elevated glycosylated hemoglobin and serum fructosamine levels, decreased motor nerve conduction velocity and compound muscle action potentials (CMAP), and markedly decreased myelinated nerve fiber densities. Compared to non-diabetic cats, there was a non-significant 26% increase in capillary density and a significant (P<0.009) 45% increase in capillary size in diabetic cats. Capillary luminal size was also significantly (P<0.001) increased, while an index of vasoconstriction was significantly decreased (P<0.001) in diabetic cats compared to non-diabetic controls. No differences in endothelial cell size, endothelial cell number or pericyte size were detected between non-diabetic and diabetic cats. In diabetic cats, basement membrane thickening, seen as a reduplication of the basal lamina, was significantly (P<0.0002) increased by 73% compared to non-diabetic controls. Regression analysis of either myelinated nerve fiber density or CMAP amplitude against basement membrane size demonstrated a negative correlation with significant slopes (P<0.03 and P<0.04, respectively). These data demonstrate that myelinated nerve fiber injury in feline diabetic neuropathy is associated with microvascular pathology and that some of these changes parallel those documented in experimental rodent and human diabetic neuropathy.
Basement membrane; Endoneurial capillaries; Endothelial cells; Feline diabetes mellitus; Microangiopathy; Pericytes
A 5-month-old, male, Labrador retriever was evaluated for progressive weakness and muscle atrophy. Histologic evaluation of fresh frozen muscle revealed distinct cytoarchitectural changes and central mitochondrial accumulations indistinguishable from those found in the inherited myopathy described in Great Danes. Multiple male littermates and half-siblings were similarly affected.
A 7-week-old Irish wolfhound was evaluated for an abnormal hind limb gait. Quadriceps muscle atrophy was pronounced and patellar reflexes were absent bilaterally. Neospora caninum myositis was diagnosed by histopathologic and serologic examination and immunohistochemical staining of muscle. Substantial clinical improvement was noted after 18 weeks of treatment with clindamycin.
A 3-year-old, male Great Dane was evaluated for an 18-month history of progressive weakness. Histologic evaluation of muscle biopsies revealed distinct cytoarchitectural changes that were indistinguishable from the central “core-like” structures previously described as central core myopathy in this breed. Clinical features of this inherited myopathy are described.
Cypher is a member of a recently emerging family of proteins containing a PDZ domain at their NH2 terminus and one or three LIM domains at their COOH terminus. Cypher knockout mice display a severe form of congenital myopathy and die postnatally from functional failure in multiple striated muscles. Examination of striated muscle from the mutants revealed that Cypher is not required for sarcomerogenesis or Z-line assembly, but rather is required for maintenance of the Z-line during muscle function. In vitro studies demonstrated that individual domains within Cypher localize independently to the Z-line via interactions with α-actinin or other Z-line components. These results suggest that Cypher functions as a linker-strut to maintain cytoskeletal structure during contraction.
congenital myopathy; cypher; LIM; PDZ; Z-line
Amphiphysin 2, encoded by BIN1, is a key factor for membrane sensing and remodelling in different cell types. Homozygous BIN1 mutations in ubiquitously expressed exons are associated with autosomal recessive centronuclear myopathy (CNM), a mildly progressive muscle disorder typically showing abnormal nuclear centralization on biopsies. In addition, misregulation of BIN1 splicing partially accounts for the muscle defects in myotonic dystrophy (DM). However, the muscle-specific function of amphiphysin 2 and its pathogenicity in both muscle disorders are not well understood. In this study we identified and characterized the first mutation affecting the splicing of the muscle-specific BIN1 exon 11 in a consanguineous family with rapidly progressive and ultimately fatal centronuclear myopathy. In parallel, we discovered a mutation in the same BIN1 exon 11 acceptor splice site as the genetic cause of the canine Inherited Myopathy of Great Danes (IMGD). Analysis of RNA from patient muscle demonstrated complete skipping of exon 11 and BIN1 constructs without exon 11 were unable to promote membrane tubulation in differentiated myotubes. Comparative immunofluorescence and ultrastructural analyses of patient and canine biopsies revealed common structural defects, emphasizing the importance of amphiphysin 2 in membrane remodelling and maintenance of the skeletal muscle triad. Our data demonstrate that the alteration of the muscle-specific function of amphiphysin 2 is a common pathomechanism for centronuclear myopathy, myotonic dystrophy, and IMGD. The IMGD dog is the first faithful model for human BIN1-related CNM and represents a mammalian model available for preclinical trials of potential therapies.
The intracellular organization of muscle fibers relies on a complex membrane system important for muscle structural organization, maintenance, contraction, and resistance to stress. Amphiphysin 2, encoded by BIN1, plays a central role in membrane sensing and remodelling and is involved in intracellular membrane trafficking in different cell types. The ubiquitously expressed BIN1, altered in centronuclear myopathy (CNM) and myotonic dystrophy (DM), possesses a muscle-specific exon coding for a phosphoinositide binding domain. We identified splice mutations affecting the muscle-specific BIN1 isoform in humans and dogs presenting a clinically and histopathologically comparable highly progressive centronuclear myopathy. Our functional and ultrastructural data emphasize the importance of amphiphysin 2 in membrane remodeling and suggest that the defective maintenance of the triad structure is a primary cause for the muscle weakness. The canine Inherited Myopathy of Great Danes is the first faithful mammalian model for investigating other potential pathological mechanisms underlying centronuclear myopathy and for testing therapeutic approaches.
Alaskan Husky Encephalopathy (AHE) has been previously proposed as a mitochondrial encephalopathy based on neuropathological similarities with human Leigh Syndrome (LS). We studied 11 Alaskan Husky dogs with AHE, but found no abnormalities in respiratory chain enzyme activities in muscle and liver, or mutations in mitochondrial or nuclear genes that cause LS in people. A genome wide association study was performed using eight of the affected dogs and 20 related but unaffected control AHs using the Illumina canine HD array. SLC19A3 was identified as a positional candidate gene. This gene controls the uptake of thiamine in the CNS via expression of the thiamine transporter protein THTR2. Dogs have two copies of this gene located within the candidate interval (SLC19A3.2 – 43.36–43.38 Mb and SLC19A3.1 – 43.411–43.419 Mb) on chromosome 25. Expression analysis in a normal dog revealed that one of the paralogs, SLC19A3.1, was expressed in the brain and spinal cord while the other was not. Subsequent exon sequencing of SLC19A3.1 revealed a 4bp insertion and SNP in the second exon that is predicted to result in a functional protein truncation of 279 amino acids (c.624 insTTGC, c.625 C>A). All dogs with AHE were homozygous for this mutation, 15/41 healthy AH control dogs were heterozygous carriers while 26/41 normal healthy AH dogs were wild type. Furthermore, this mutation was not detected in another 187 dogs of different breeds. These results suggest that this mutation in SLC19A3.1, encoding a thiamine transporter protein, plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of AHE.
The first cases of early-onset progressive polyneuropathy appeared in the Alaskan Malamute population in Norway in the late 1970s. Affected dogs were of both sexes and were ambulatory paraparetic, progressing to non-ambulatory tetraparesis. On neurologic examination, affected dogs displayed predominantly laryngeal paresis, decreased postural reactions, decreased spinal reflexes and muscle atrophy. The disease was considered eradicated through breeding programmes but recently new cases have occurred in the Nordic countries and the USA. The N-myc downstream-regulated gene (NDRG1) is implicated in neuropathies with comparable symptoms or clinical signs both in humans and in Greyhound dogs. This gene was therefore considered a candidate gene for the polyneuropathy in Alaskan Malamutes. The coding sequence of the NDRG1 gene derived from one healthy and one affected Alaskan Malamute revealed a non-synonymous G>T mutation in exon 4 in the affected dog that causes a Gly98Val amino acid substitution. This substitution was categorized to be “probably damaging” to the protein function by PolyPhen2 (score: 1.000). Subsequently, 102 Alaskan Malamutes from the Nordic countries and the USA known to be either affected (n = 22), obligate carriers (n = 7) or healthy (n = 73) were genotyped for the SNP using TaqMan. All affected dogs had the T/T genotype, the obligate carriers had the G/T genotype and the healthy dogs had the G/G genotype except for 13 who had the G/T genotype. A protein alignment showed that residue 98 is conserved in mammals and also that the entire NDRG1 protein is highly conserved (94.7%) in mammals. We conclude that the G>T substitution is most likely the mutation that causes polyneuropathy in Alaskan Malamutes. Our characterization of a novel candidate causative mutation for polyneuropathy offers a new canine model that can provide further insight into pathobiology and therapy of human polyneuropathy. Furthermore, selection against this mutation can now be used to eliminate the disease in Alaskan Malamutes.
Centronuclear myopathies (CNM) are inherited congenital disorders characterized by an excessive number of internalized nuclei. In humans, CNM results from ∼70 mutations in three major genes from the myotubularin, dynamin and amphiphysin families. Analysis of animal models with altered expression of these genes revealed common defects in all forms of CNM, paving the way for unified pathogenic and therapeutic mechanisms. Despite these efforts, some CNM cases remain genetically unresolved. We previously identified an autosomal recessive form of CNM in French Labrador retrievers from an experimental pedigree, and showed that a loss-of-function mutation in the protein tyrosine phosphatase-like A (PTPLA) gene segregated with CNM. Around the world, client-owned Labrador retrievers with a similar clinical presentation and histopathological changes in muscle biopsies have been described. We hypothesized that these Labradors share the same PTPLAcnm mutation. Genotyping of an international panel of 7,426 Labradors led to the identification of PTPLAcnm carriers in 13 countries. Haplotype analysis demonstrated that the PTPLAcnm allele resulted from a single and recent mutational event that may have rapidly disseminated through the extensive use of popular sires. PTPLA-deficient Labradors will help define the integrated role of PTPLA in the existing CNM gene network. They will be valuable complementary large animal models to test innovative therapies in CNM.
Musladin-Lueke Syndrome (MLS) is a hereditary disorder affecting Beagle dogs that manifests with extensive fibrosis of the skin and joints. In this respect, it resembles human stiff skin syndrome and the Tight skin mouse, each of which is caused by gene defects affecting fibrillin-1, a major component of tissue microfibrils. The objective of this work was to determine the genetic basis of MLS and the molecular consequence of the identified mutation.
Methodology and Principal Findings
We mapped the locus for MLS by genome-wide association to a 3.05 Mb haplotype on canine chromosome 9 (CFA9 (50.11–54.26; praw <10−7)), which was homozygous and identical-by-descent among all affected dogs, consistent with recessive inheritance of a founder mutation. Sequence analysis of a candidate gene at this locus, ADAMTSL2, which is responsible for the human TGFβ dysregulation syndrome, Geleophysic Dysplasia (GD), uncovered a mutation in exon 7 (c.660C>T; p.R221C) perfectly associated with MLS (p-value = 10−12). Murine ADAMTSL2 containing the p.R221C mutation formed anomalous disulfide-bonded dimers when transiently expressed in COS-1, HEK293F and CHO cells, and was present in the medium of these cells at lower levels than wild-type ADAMTSL2 expressed in parallel.
The genetic basis of MLS is a founder mutation in ADAMTSL2, previously shown to interact with latent TGF-β binding protein, which binds fibrillin-1. The molecular effect of the founder mutation on ADAMTSL2 is formation of disulfide-bonded dimers. Although caused by a distinct mutation, and having a milder phenotype than human GD, MLS nevertheless offers a new animal model for study of GD, and for prospective insights on mechanisms and pathways of skin fibrosis and joint contractures.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which afflicts 1 in 3500 boys, is one of the most common genetic disorders of children. This fatal degenerative condition is caused by an absence or deficiency of dystrophin in striated muscle. Most affected patients have inherited or spontaneous deletions in the dystrophin gene that disrupt the reading frame resulting in unstable truncated products. For these patients, restoration of the reading frame via antisense oligonucleotide-mediated exon skipping is a promising therapeutic approach. The major DMD deletion “hot spot” is found between exons 45 and 53, and skipping exon 51 in particular is predicted to ameliorate the dystrophic phenotype in the greatest number of patients. Currently the mdx mouse is the most widely used animal model of DMD, although its mild phenotype limits its suitability in clinical trials. The Golden Retriever muscular dystrophy (GRMD) model has a severe phenotype, but due to its large size, is expensive to use. Both these models have mutations in regions of the dystrophin gene distant from the commonly mutated DMD “hot spot”.
Here we describe the severe phenotype, histopathological findings, and molecular analysis of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with dystrophin-deficient muscular dystrophy (CKCS-MD). The dogs harbour a missense mutation in the 5′ donor splice site of exon 50 that results in deletion of exon 50 in mRNA transcripts and a predicted premature truncation of the translated protein. Antisense oligonucleotide-mediated skipping of exon 51 in cultured myoblasts from an affected dog restored the reading frame and protein expression.
Given the small size of the breed, the amiable temperament and the nature of the mutation, we propose that CKCS-MD is a valuable new model for clinical trials of antisense oligonucleotide-induced exon skipping and other therapeutic approaches for DMD.
Growing evidence supports the importance of ubiquitin ligases in the pathogenesis of muscular disorders, although underlying mechanisms remain largely elusive. Here we show that the expression of RNF5 (aka RMA1), an ER-anchored RING finger E3 ligase implicated in muscle organization and in recognition and processing of malfolded proteins, is elevated and mislocalized to cytoplasmic aggregates in biopsies from patients suffering from sporadic-Inclusion Body Myositis (sIBM). Consistent with these findings, an animal model for hereditary IBM (hIBM), but not their control littermates, revealed deregulated expression of RNF5. Further studies for the role of RNF5 in the pathogenesis of s-IBM and more generally in muscle physiology were performed using RNF5 transgenic and KO animals. Transgenic mice carrying inducible expression of RNF5, under control of β-actin or muscle specific promoter, exhibit an early onset of muscle wasting, muscle degeneration and extensive fiber regeneration. Prolonged expression of RNF5 in the muscle also results in the formation of fibers containing congophilic material, blue-rimmed vacuoles and inclusion bodies. These phenotypes were associated with altered expression and activity of ER chaperones, characteristic of myodegenerative diseases such as s-IBM. Conversely, muscle regeneration and induction of ER stress markers were delayed in RNF5 KO mice subjected to cardiotoxin treatment. While supporting a role for RNF5 Tg mice as model for s-IBM, our study also establishes the importance of RNF5 in muscle physiology and its deregulation in ER stress associated muscular disorders.