A novel mouse model that recapitulates adult-onset glycogenosis type 4

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Glycogen storage disease type IV (GSD IV) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder caused by deficiency of the glycogen-branching enzyme (GBE). The diagnostic hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of a poorly branched form of glycogen known as polyglucosan (PG). The disease is clinically heterogeneous, with variable tissue involvement and age at onset. Complete loss of enzyme activity is lethal in utero or in infancy and affects primarily the muscle and the liver. However, residual enzyme activity as low as 5–20% leads to juvenile or adult onset of a disorder that primarily affects the central and peripheral nervous system and muscles and in the latter is termed adult polyglucosan body disease (APBD). Here, we describe a mouse model of GSD IV that reflects this spectrum of disease. Homologous recombination was used to knock in the most common GBE1 mutation p.Y329S c.986A > C found in APBD patients of Ashkenazi Jewish decent. Mice homozygous for this allele (Gbe1ys/ys) exhibit a phenotype similar to APBD, with widespread accumulation of PG. Adult mice exhibit progressive neuromuscular dysfunction and die prematurely. While the onset of symptoms is limited to adult mice, PG accumulates in tissues of newborn mice but is initially absent from the cerebral cortex and heart muscle. Thus, PG is well tolerated in most tissues, but the eventual accumulation in neurons and their axons causes neuropathy that leads to hind limb spasticity and premature death. This mouse model mimics the pathology and pathophysiologic features of human adult-onset branching enzyme deficiency.

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