Transgenic expression of neuronal dystonin isoform 2 partially rescues the disease phenotype of thedystonia musculorummouse model of hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy VI

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A newly identified lethal form of hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy (HSAN), designated HSAN-VI, is caused by a homozygous mutation in the bullous pemphigoid antigen 1 (BPAG1)/dystonin gene (DST). The HSAN-VI mutation impacts all major neuronal BPAG1/dystonin protein isoforms: dystonin-a1, -a2 and -a3. Homozygous mutations in the murineDstgene cause a severe sensory neuropathy termeddystonia musculorum(dt). Phenotypically,dtmice are similar to HSAN-VI patients, manifesting progressive limb contractures, dystonia, dysautonomia and early postnatal death. To obtain a better molecular understanding of disease pathogenesis in HSAN-VI patients and thedtdisorder, we generated transgenic mice expressing a myc-tagged dystonin-a2 protein under the regulation of the neuronal prion protein promoter on thedtTg4/Tg4background, which is devoid of endogenous dystonin-a1 and -a2, but does express dystonin-a3. Restoring dystonin-a2 expression in the nervous system, particularly within sensory neurons, prevented the disorganization of organelle membranes and microtubule networks, attenuated the degeneration of sensory neuron subtypes and ameliorated the phenotype and increased life span in these mice. Despite these improvements, complete rescue was not observed likely because of inadequate expression of the transgene. Taken together, this study provides needed insight into the molecular basis of thedtdisorder and other peripheral neuropathies including HSAN-VI.

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