The Production of Transgenic Mice Expressing Human Cystathionine Beta-Synthase to Study Down Syndrome

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Down syndrome (DS) is the most common genetic cause of significant cognitive disability. We hypothesize that by identifying metabolic alterations associated with cognitive impairment, it may be possible to develop medical or dietary interventions to ameliorate cognitive disabilities in persons with DS. Evidence suggests that one-carbon/transsulfuration (1C-TS) metabolism is abnormal in persons with DS. Cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) plays a critical role in this metabolic system. The gene for CBS is on human chromosome 21, and there is evidence of elevated CBS enzyme activity in tissues and cells from individuals with DS. To analyze the possible role of CBS in Down syndrome, we have produced several lines of transgenic mice expressing the human CBS gene. We describe the use of Florescence Situ Hybridization (FISH) analysis to characterize the transgene insertion site for each line. Our initial expression analysis of each transgenic line by RT-PCR shows that the tissue specificity of human CBS mRNA levels in these mice may differ from the tissue specificity of mouse CBS mRNA levels in the same animals. These mice will be invaluable for assessing the regulation of the CBS gene and the role of CBS in cognition. They can also be used to develop therapies that target abnormalities in 1C-TS metabolism to improve cognition in persons with DS.

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