Deficiency of the mitochondrial transporter of aspartate/glutamate aralar/AGC1 causes hypomyelination and neuronal defects unrelated to myelin deficits in mouse brain

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Abstract

The aralar/AGC1 knockout (KO) mouse shows a drastic decrease in brain aspartate and N-acetylaspartate levels and global hypomyelination, which are attributed to the lack of neuron-produced NAA used by oligodendrocytes as precursor of myelin lipid synthesis. In addition, these mice have a gradual drop in brain glutamine synthesis. We show here that hypomyelination is more pronounced in gray than in white matter regions. We find a lack of neurofilament-labelled processes in hypomyelinated fiber tracks from cerebral cortex but not from those of the cerebellar granule cell layer, which correspond to Purkinje neurons. Therefore, the impaired development or degeneration of neuronal processes in cerebral cortex is independent of hypomyelination. An increase in O4-labelled, immature oligodendrocytes is observed in gray and white matter regions of the aralar KO brain, suggesting a block in maturation compatible with the lack of NAA supplied by neurons. However, no defects in oligodendrocyte maturation were observed in in-vitro-cultured mixed astroglial cultures. We conclude that the primary defect of pyramidal neurons in cerebral cortex is possibly associated with a progressive failure in glutamatergic neurotransmission and may be among the main causes of the pathology of aralar/AGC1 deficiency. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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