Year of publication
- 2010 (2) (remove)
- Solving a 50 year mystery of a missing OPA1 mutation: more insights from the first family diagnosed with autosomal dominant optic atrophy (2010)
- Background: Up to the 1950s, there was an ongoing debate about the diversity of hereditary optic neuropathies, in particular as to whether all inherited optic atrophies can be ascribed to Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) or represent different disease entities. In 1954 W. Jaeger published a detailed clinical and genealogical investigation of a large family with explicit autosomal dominant segregation of optic atrophy thus proving the existence of a discrete disease different from LHON, which is nowadays known as autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA). Since the year 2000 ADOA is associated with genomic mutations in the OPA1 gene, which codes for a protein that is imported into mitochondria where it is required for mitochondrial fusion. Interestingly enough, the underlying mutation in this family has not been identified since then. Results: We have reinvestigated this family with the aim to identify the mutation and to further clarify the underlying pathomechanism. Patients showed a classical non-syndromic ADOA. The long term deterioration in vision in the two teenagers examined 50 years later is of particular note 5/20 to 6/120. Multiplex ligation probe amplification revealed a duplication of the OPA1 exons 7-9 which was confirmed by long distance PCR and cDNA analysis, resulting in an in-frame duplication of 102 amino acids. Segregation was verified in 53 available members of the updated pedigree and a penetrance of 88% was calculated. Fibroblast cultures from skin biopsies were established to assess the mitochondrial network integrity and to qualitatively and quantitatively study the consequences of the mutation on transcript and protein level. Fibroblast cultures demonstrated a fragmented mitochondrial network. Processing of the OPA1 protein was altered. There was no correlation of the OPA1 transcript levels and the OPA1 protein levels in the fibroblasts. Intriguingly an overall decrease of mitochondrial proteins was observed in patients' fibroblasts, while the OPA1 transcript levels were elevated. Conclusions: The thorough study of this family provides a detailed clinical picture accompanied by a molecular investigation of patients' fibroblasts. Our data show a classic OPA1-associated non-syndromic ADOA segregating in this family. Cell biological findings suggest that OPA1 is regulated by post-translational mechanisms and we would like to hypothesize that loss of OPA1 function might lead to impaired mitochondrial quality control. With the clinical, genetic and cell biological characterisation of a family described already more than 50 years ago, we span more than half a century of research in optic neuropathies.
- A53T-alpha-synuclein overexpression impairs dopamine signaling and striatal synaptic plasticity in old mice (2010)
- BACKGROUND: Parkinson's disease (PD), the second most frequent neurodegenerative disorder at old age, can be caused by elevated expression or the A53T missense mutation of the presynaptic protein alpha-synuclein (SNCA). PD is characterized pathologically by the preferential vulnerability of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal projection neurons. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here, we used two mouse lines overexpressing human A53T-SNCA and studied striatal dysfunction in the absence of neurodegeneration to understand early disease mechanisms. To characterize the progression, we employed young adult as well as old mice. Analysis of striatal neurotransmitter content demonstrated that dopamine (DA) levels correlated directly with the level of expression of SNCA, an observation also made in SNCA-deficient (knockout, KO) mice. However, the elevated DA levels in the striatum of old A53T-SNCA overexpressing mice may not be transmitted appropriately, in view of three observations. First, a transcriptional downregulation of the extraneural DA degradation enzyme catechol-ortho-methytransferase (COMT) was found. Second, an upregulation of DA receptors was detected by immunoblots and autoradiography. Third, extensive transcriptome studies via microarrays and quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qPCR) of altered transcript levels of the DA-inducible genes Atf2, Cb1, Freq, Homer1 and Pde7b indicated a progressive and genotype-dependent reduction in the postsynaptic DA response. As a functional consequence, long term depression (LTD) was absent in corticostriatal slices from old transgenic mice. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Taken together, the dysfunctional neurotransmission and impaired synaptic plasticity seen in the A53T-SNCA overexpressing mice reflect early changes within the basal ganglia prior to frank neurodegeneration. As a model of preclinical stages of PD, such insights may help to develop neuroprotective therapeutic approaches.