ResearchPad - autosomal-dominant-diseases https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Single-nucleus RNA-seq identifies divergent populations of FSHD2 myotube nuclei]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14649 Although misexpression of DUX4 has been known as the major cause in FSHD, it is lowly expressed in patient samples and analysis of the consequences of DUX4 expression has largely relied on artificial overexpression. Here, we took advantage of recent methodological advances to observe native DUX4 expression at the single-nucleus level in FSHD2 patient-derived myotubes. Using single-nucleus RNA-seq (snRNA-seq), we were able to detect endogenous DUX4-expressing nuclei and the extent of spreading of DUX4-target gene expression across many nuclei. Our highly sensitive snRNA-seq method further allowed us to identify two populations of FSHD myotube nuclei with distinct transcriptional profiles. One is highly enriched with DUX4 and target genes (FSHD-Hi) while the other has sparser DUX4 and FSHD-induced genes expressed (FSHD-Lo), reflecting two potentially different pathological states of patient myotubes. We observed a set of transcription factors specifically upregulated in FSHD-Hi myotube nuclei associated with the cell cycle, and significant upregulation of DUX4 paralog DUXA that contributes to further upregulation of DUX4 target genes. We propose that transcription factors downstream of DUX4 may amplify DUX4 signal and thus act to perpetuate FSHD.

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<![CDATA[Open notebook science can maximize impact for rare disease projects]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c58d65dd5eed0c484031ce9

Transparency lies at the heart of the open lab notebook movement. Open notebook scientists publish laboratory experiments and findings in the public domain in real time, without restrictions or omissions. Research on rare diseases is especially amenable to the open notebook model because it can both increase scientific impact and serve as a mechanism to engage patient groups in the scientific process. Here, I outline and describe my own success with my open notebook project, LabScribbles, as well as other efforts included in the openlabnotebooks.org initiative.

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<![CDATA[Neurofibromin haploinsufficiency results in altered spermatogenesis in a mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c25455ad5eed0c48442c5ac

The fertility of men with neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) is reduced. Despite this observation, gonadal function has not been examined in patients with NF1. In order to assess the role of reduced neurofibromin in the testes, we examined testicular morphology and function in an Nf1+/- mouse model. We found that although Nf1+/- male mice are able to reproduce, they have significantly fewer pups per litter than Nf1+/+ control males. Reduced fertility in Nf1+/- male mice is associated with disorganization of the seminiferous epithelium, with exfoliation of germ cells and immature spermatids into the tubule lumen. Morphometric analysis shows that these alterations are associated with decreased Leydig cell numbers and increased spermatid cell numbers. We hypothesized that hyper-activation of Ras in Nf1+/- males affects ectoplasmic specialization, a Sertoli-spermatid adherens junction involved in spermiation. Consistent with this idea, we found increased expression of phosphorylated ERK, a downstream effector of Ras that has been shown to alter ectoplasmic specialization, in Nf1+/- males in comparison to control Nf1+/+ littermates. These data demonstrate that neurofibromin haploinsufficiency impairs spermatogenesis and fertility in a mouse model of NF1.

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<![CDATA[Infected cyst in patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease: Analysis of computed tomographic and ultrasonographic imaging features]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c117b35d5eed0c484698430

Purpose

To investigate the imaging features of cyst infection in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) patients using computed tomography (CT) and ultrasonography (US).

Materials & methods

The institutional review board approved this retrospective study. Fifty-one episodes with proven cyst infection in forty-three ADPKD patients were included. Two experienced abdominal radiologists reviewed CT and US images and evaluated the following imaging features in consensus: cyst size, location, cyst shape, intracystic attenuation, intracystic echogenicity, intracystic heterogeneity, wall thickness, the presence of fluid-fluid level, septation, intracystic gas, pericystic fat infiltration, and pericystic hyperemia. Intracystic attenuation was measured for all infected cysts and two presumed normal cysts and compared using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test.

Results

On CT scans, the median size of infected cysts was 5.5 cm (range: 2.3–18.8 cm) and 46 of 51 (90.2%) infected cysts were located in the subcapsular region. Most (48 of 51, 94.1%) infected cysts showed lobulated, focal bulging or irregular shape. Discernible wall thickening (84.1%) was the most frequently found imaging feature of infected cysts followed by relatively higher intracystic attenuation compared to normal cysts (79.1%) and pericystic fat infiltration (52.9%). Fluid/fluid level was found in 3 of 51 (5.9%) infected cysts and intracystic gas was found in 3 of 51 (5.9%) infected cysts, respectively. For hepatic cysts, 11 of 14 (78.6%) infected cysts showed pericystic hyperemia. Intracystic attenuation was significantly higher in infected cysts (median; 19.0 HU) than in presumed normal cysts (median; 8.5 HU) (P<0.001), and exceeded 25 HU in 18 (35.3%) of 51 infected cysts. Among the 41 infected cysts for which US images were available, 35 (85.1%) showed heterogeneous echogenicity.

Conclusion

Minute imaging features such as minimal wall thickening or relatively high attenuation compared to normal cysts would be helpful to detect infected cysts in ADPKD patients.

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<![CDATA[Whole exome sequencing identifies MRVI1 as a susceptibility gene for moyamoya syndrome in neurofibromatosis type 1]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b5c0709463d7e28a3e55d74

Background and purpose

Moyamoya angiopathy is a progressive cerebral vasculopathy. The p.R4810K substitution in RNF213 has previously been linked to moyamoya disease in Asian populations. When associated with other medical conditions, such as neurofibromatosis type 1, this vasculopathy is frequently reported as moyamoya syndrome. Intriguingly, most cases of moyamoya-complicated neurofibromatosis type 1 have been described in Caucasians, inverting the population ratio observed in Asians, although prevalence of neurofibromatosis type 1 is constant worldwide. Our aim was to investigate whether, among Caucasians, additive genetic factors may contribute to the occurrence of moyamoya in neurofibromatosis type 1.

Methods

Whole exome sequencing was carried out on an Italian family with moyamoya-complicated neurofibromatosis type 1 to identify putative genetic modifiers independent of the NF1 locus and potentially involved in moyamoya pathogenesis. Results were validated in an unrelated family of German ancestry.

Results

We identified the p.P186S substitution (rs35857561) in MRVI1 that segregated with moyamoya syndrome in both the Italian and German family.

Conclusions

The rs35857561 polymorphism in MRVI1 may be a genetic susceptibility factor for moyamoya in European patients with neurofibromatosis type 1. MRVI1 is a functional partner of ITPR1, PRKG1 and GUCY1A3, which are involved in response to nitric oxide. Mutations in GUCY1A3 have been recently linked to a recessive syndromic form of moyamoya with esophageal achalasia.

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<![CDATA[Evaluation of Rint1 as a modifier of intestinal tumorigenesis and cancer risk]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4fab0ee8fa60bdbc31

The Rad50 Interacting Protein 1 (Rint1) influences cellular homeostasis through maintenance of endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi and centrosome integrity and regulation of vesicle transport, autophagy and the G2/M checkpoint. Rint1 has been postulated to function as a tumor suppressor as well as an oncogene, with its role depending perhaps upon the precise cellular and/or experimental context. In humans, heterozygosity for germline missense variants in RINT1 have, in some studies, been associated with increased risk of both breast and Lynch syndrome type cancers. However, it is not known if these germline variants represent loss of function alleles or gain of function alleles. Based upon these findings, as well as our initial consideration of Rint1 as a potential candidate for Mom5, a genetic modifier of intestinal tumorigenesis in ApcMin/+ mice, we sought to explicitly examine the impact of Rint1 on tumorigenesis in ApcMin/+ mice. However, heterozygosity for a knockout of Rint1 had no impact on tumorigenesis in Rint1+/-; ApcMin/+ mice. Likewise, we found no evidence to suggest that the remaining Rint1 allele was lost somatically in intestinal tumors in ApcMin/+ mice. Interestingly, in contrast to what has been observed in Rint1+/- mice on a mixed genetic background, Rint1+/- mice on a pure C57BL/6J background did not show spontaneous tumor development. We also evaluated colorectal cancer data available in the COSMIC and ONCOMINE databases and found that RINT1 overexpression, as well as the presence of somatic missense mutations in RINT1 were associated with colorectal cancer development. In vitro evaluation of two missense variants in RINT1 suggested that such variants do have the potential to impact RINT1 function.

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<![CDATA[No Beneficial Effect of General and Specific Anti-Inflammatory Therapies on Aortic Dilatation in Marfan Mice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf0ab0ee8fa60bc1144

Aims

Patients with Marfan syndrome have an increased risk of life-threatening aortic complications, mostly preceded by aortic dilatation. In the FBN1C1039G/+ Marfan mouse model, losartan decreases aortic root dilatation. We recently confirmed this beneficial effect of losartan in adult patients with Marfan syndrome. The straightforward translation of this mouse model to man is reassuring to test novel treatment strategies. A number of studies have shown signs of inflammation in aortic tissue of Marfan patients. This study examined the efficacy of anti-inflammatory therapies in attenuating aortic root dilation in Marfan syndrome and compared effects to the main preventative agent, losartan.

Methods and Results

To inhibit inflammation in FBN1C1039G/+ Marfan mice, we treated the mice with losartan (angiotensin II receptor type 1 inhibitor), methylprednisolone (corticosteroid) or abatacept (T-cell-specific inhibitor). Treatment was initiated in adult Marfan mice with already existing aortic root dilatation, and applied for eight weeks. Methylprednisolone- or abatacept-treated mice did not reveal a reduction in aortic root dilatation. In this short time frame, losartan was the only treatment that significantly reduced aorta inflammation, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) signaling and aortic root dilatation rate in these adult Marfan mice. Moreover, the methylprednisolone-treated mice had significantly more aortic alcian blue staining as a marker for aortic damage.

Conclusion

Anti-inflammatory agents do not reduce the aortic dilatation rate in Marfan mice, but possibly increase aortic damage. Currently, the most promising therapeutic drug in Marfan syndrome is losartan, by blocking the angiotensin II receptor type 1 and thereby inhibiting pSmad2 signaling.

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<![CDATA[Expression and inhibition of BRD4, EZH2 and TOP2A in neurofibromas and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5aafc68b463d7e7d7e2e8756

Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST) are rare, highly aggressive sarcomas that can occur spontaneously or from pre-existing plexiform neurofibromas in neurofibromatosis type1 (NF1) patients. MPNSTs have high local recurrence rates, metastasize easily, are generally resistant to therapeutic intervention and frequently fatal for the patient. Novel targeted therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. Standard treatment for patients presenting with advanced disease is doxorubicin based chemotherapy which inhibits the actions of the enzyme topoisomerase IIα (TOP2A). Recent molecular studies using murine models and cell lines identified the bromodomain containing protein 4 (BRD4) and enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) as novel targets for MPNST treatment. We investigated the expression and potential use of BRD4, EZH2 and TOP2A as therapeutic targets in human NF1-derived MPNSTs. The transcript levels of BRD4, EZH2 and TOP2A were determined in paired formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) neurofibroma/MPNST samples derived from the same NF1 patient and in a set of plexiform neurofibromas, atypical neurofibromas and MPNST. We further examined the effect on cell viability of genetic or pharmacological inhibition of BRD4, EZH2 and TOP2A in an MPNST cell line panel. Our results indicated that in MPNST samples BRD4 mRNA levels were not upregulated and that MPNST cell lines were relatively insensitive to the bromodomain inhibitor JQ1. We corroborated that EZH2 mRNA expression is increased in MPNST but failed to confirm its reported pivotal role in MPNST pathogenesis as EZH2 knockdown by siRNA did not interfere with cellular proliferation and viability. Finally, the relation between TOP2A levels and sensitivity for doxorubicin was examined, confirming reports that TOP2A mRNA levels were overexpressed in MPNST and showing that MPNST cell lines exhibited relatively high TOP2A protein levels and sensitivity to doxorubicin. We tentatively conclude that the potential for effective therapeutic intervention in MPNST by targeting BRD4, EZH2 and TOP2A individually, may be limited. Clinical studies are necessary to ultimately prove the relevance of BRD4 and EZH2 inhibition as novel therapeutic strategies for MPNST.

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<![CDATA[N-terminal Huntingtin Knock-In Mice: Implications of Removing the N-terminal Region of Huntingtin for Therapy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da41ab0ee8fa60b8a2db

The Huntington’s disease (HD) protein, huntingtin (HTT), is a large protein consisting of 3144 amino acids and has conserved N-terminal sequences that are followed by a polyglutamine (polyQ) repeat. Loss of Htt is known to cause embryonic lethality in mice, whereas polyQ expansion leads to adult neuronal degeneration. Whether N-terminal HTT is essential for neuronal development or contributes only to late-onset neurodegeneration remains unknown. We established HTT knock-in mice (N160Q-KI) expressing the first 208 amino acids of HTT with 160Q, and they show age-dependent HTT aggregates in the brain and neurological phenotypes. Importantly, the N-terminal mutant HTT also preferentially accumulates in the striatum, the brain region most affected in HD, indicating the importance of N-terminal HTT in selective neuropathology. That said, homozygous N160Q-KI mice are also embryonic lethal, suggesting that N-terminal HTT alone is unable to support embryonic development. Using Htt knockout neurons, we found that loss of Htt selectively affects the survival of developing neuronal cells, but not astrocytes, in culture. This neuronal degeneration could be rescued by a truncated HTT lacking the first 237 amino acids, but not by N-terminal HTT (1–208 amino acids). Also, the rescue effect depends on the region in HTT known to be involved in intracellular trafficking. Thus, the N-terminal HTT region may not be essential for the survival of developing neurons, but when carrying a large polyQ repeat, can cause selective neuropathology. These findings imply a possible therapeutic benefit of removing the N-terminal region of HTT containing the polyQ repeat to treat the neurodegeneration in HD.

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<![CDATA[Reducing Igf-1r Levels Leads To Paradoxical and Sexually Dimorphic Effects in HD Mice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da4cab0ee8fa60b8d07c

Many of the neurodegenerative diseases that afflict people in later life are associated with the formation of protein aggregates. These so-called “proteinopathies” include Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Huntington’s disease (HD). The insulin/insulin-like growth factor signalling (IIS) pathway has been proposed to modulate such diseases in model organisms, as well as the general ageing process. In this pathway, insulin-like growth factor binds to insulin-like growth factor receptors, such as the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R). Heterozygous deletion of Igf-1r has been shown to lead to increased lifespan in mice. Reducing the activity of this pathway had benefits in a HD C. elegans model, and some of these may be attributed to the expected inhibition of mTOR activity resulting in an increase in autophagy, which would enhance mutant huntingtin clearance. Thus, we tested if heterozygous deletion of Igf-1r would lead to benefits in HD related phenotypes in the mouse. Surprisingly, reducing Igf-1r levels led to some beneficial effects in HD females, but also led to some detrimental effects in HD males. Interestingly, Igf-1r deficiency had no discernible effects on downstream mTOR signalling in HD mice. These results do not support a broad beneficial effect of diminishing the IIS pathway in HD pathology in a mammalian system.

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<![CDATA[Characterization of Behavioral, Neuropathological, Brain Metabolic and Key Molecular Changes in zQ175 Knock-In Mouse Model of Huntington’s Disease]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da9dab0ee8fa60ba48bd

Huntington’s disease (HD) is caused by an expansion of the trinucleotide poly (CAG) tract located in exon 1 of the huntingtin (Htt) gene leading to progressive neurodegeneration in selected brain regions, and associated functional impairments in motor, cognitive, and psychiatric domains. Since the discovery of the gene mutation that causes the disease, mouse models have been developed by different strategies. Recently, a new model, the zQ175 knock-in (KI) line, was developed in an attempt to have the Htt gene in a context and causing a phenotype that more closely mimics HD in humans. The behavioral phenotype was characterized across the independent laboratories and important features reminiscent of human HD are observed in zQ175 mice. In the current study, we characterized the zQ175 model housed in an academic laboratory under reversed dark-light cycle, including motor function, in vivo longitudinal structural MRI imaging for brain volume, MRS for striatal metabolites, neuropathology, as well as a panel of key disease marker proteins in the striatum at different ages. Our results suggest that homozygous zQ175 mice exhibited significant brain atrophy before the motor deficits and brain metabolite changes. Altered striatal medium spiny neuronal marker, postsynaptic marker protein and complement component C1qC also characterized zQ175 mice. Our results confirmed that the zQ175 KI model is valuable in understanding of HD-like pathophysiology and evaluation of potential therapeutics. Our data also provide suggestions to select appropriate outcome measurements in preclinical studies using the zQ175 mice.

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<![CDATA[Fast-to-Slow Transition of Skeletal Muscle Contractile Function and Corresponding Changes in Myosin Heavy and Light Chain Formation in the R6/2 Mouse Model of Huntington’s Disease]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da7bab0ee8fa60b98987

Huntington´s disease (HD) is a hereditary neurodegenerative disease resulting from an expanded polyglutamine sequence (poly-Q) in the protein huntingtin (HTT). Various studies report atrophy and metabolic pathology of skeletal muscle in HD and suggest as part of the process a fast-to-slow fiber type transition that may be caused by the pathological changes in central motor control or/and by mutant HTT in the muscle tissue itself. To investigate muscle pathology in HD, we used R6/2 mice, a common animal model for a rapidly progressing variant of the disease expressing exon 1 of the mutant human gene. We investigated alterations in the extensor digitorum longus (EDL), a typical fast-twitch muscle, and the soleus (SOL), a slow-twitch muscle. We focussed on mechanographic measurements of excised muscles using single and repetitive electrical stimulation and on the expression of the various myosin isoforms (heavy and light chains) using dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) of whole muscle and single fiber preparations. In EDL of R6/2, the functional tests showed a left shift of the force-frequency relation and decrease in specific force. Moreover, the estimated relative contribution of the fastest myosin isoform MyHC IIb decreased, whereas the contribution of the slower MyHC IIx isoform increased. An additional change occurred in the alkali MyLC forms showing a decrease in 3f and an increase in 1f level. In SOL, a shift from fast MyHC IIa to the slow isoform I was detectable in male R6/2 mice only, and there was no evidence of isoform interconversion in the MyLC pattern. These alterations point to a partial remodeling of the contractile apparatus of R6/2 mice towards a slower contractile phenotype, predominantly in fast glycolytic fibers.

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<![CDATA[Microsatellite Interruptions Stabilize Primate Genomes and Exist as Population-Specific Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms within Individual Human Genomes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da07ab0ee8fa60b764d5

Interruptions of microsatellite sequences impact genome evolution and can alter disease manifestation. However, human polymorphism levels at interrupted microsatellites (iMSs) are not known at a genome-wide scale, and the pathways for gaining interruptions are poorly understood. Using the 1000 Genomes Phase-1 variant call set, we interrogated mono-, di-, tri-, and tetranucleotide repeats up to 10 units in length. We detected ∼26,000–40,000 iMSs within each of four human population groups (African, European, East Asian, and American). We identified population-specific iMSs within exonic regions, and discovered that known disease-associated iMSs contain alleles present at differing frequencies among the populations. By analyzing longer microsatellites in primate genomes, we demonstrate that single interruptions result in a genome-wide average two- to six-fold reduction in microsatellite mutability, as compared with perfect microsatellites. Centrally located interruptions lowered mutability dramatically, by two to three orders of magnitude. Using a biochemical approach, we tested directly whether the mutability of a specific iMS is lower because of decreased DNA polymerase strand slippage errors. Modeling the adenomatous polyposis coli tumor suppressor gene sequence, we observed that a single base substitution interruption reduced strand slippage error rates five- to 50-fold, relative to a perfect repeat, during synthesis by DNA polymerases α, β, or η. Computationally, we demonstrate that iMSs arise primarily by base substitution mutations within individual human genomes. Our biochemical survey of human DNA polymerase α, β, δ, κ, and η error rates within certain microsatellites suggests that interruptions are created most frequently by low fidelity polymerases. Our combined computational and biochemical results demonstrate that iMSs are abundant in human genomes and are sources of population-specific genetic variation that may affect genome stability. The genome-wide identification of iMSs in human populations presented here has important implications for current models describing the impact of microsatellite polymorphisms on gene expression.

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<![CDATA[Genomic profile of human meningioma cell lines]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5cab0ee8fa60be0094

Meningiomas, derived from arachnoid cap cells, are the most common intracranial tumor. High-grade meningiomas, as well as those located at the skull base or near venous sinuses, frequently recur and are challenging to manage. Next-generation sequencing is identifying novel pharmacologic targets in meningiomas to complement surgery and radiation. However, due to the lack of in vitro models, the importance and implications of these genetic variants in meningioma pathogenesis and therapy remain unclear. We performed whole exome sequencing to assess single nucleotide variants and somatic copy number variants in four human meningioma cell lines, including two benign lines (HBL-52 and Ben-Men-1) and two malignant lines (IOMM-Lee and CH157-MN). The two malignant cell lines harbored an elevated rate of mutations and copy number alterations compared to the benign lines, consistent with the genetic profiles of high-grade meningiomas. In addition, these cell lines also harbored known meningioma driver mutations in neurofibromin 2 (NF2) and TNF receptor-associated factor 7 (TRAF7). These findings demonstrate the relevance of meningioma cell lines as a model system, especially as tools to investigate the signaling pathways of, and subsequent resistance to, therapeutics currently in clinical trials.

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<![CDATA[Transgenic Drosophila for Investigating DUX4 and FRG1, Two Genes Associated with Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4bab0ee8fa60bda2e6

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is typically an adult onset dominant myopathy. Epigenetic changes in the chromosome 4q35 region linked to both forms of FSHD lead to a relaxation of repression and increased somatic expression of DUX4-fl (DUX4-full length), the pathogenic alternative splicing isoform of the DUX4 gene. DUX4-fl encodes a transcription factor expressed in healthy testis and pluripotent stem cells; however, in FSHD, increased levels of DUX4-fl in myogenic cells lead to aberrant regulation of target genes. DUX4-fl has proven difficult to study in vivo; thus, little is known about its normal and pathogenic roles. The endogenous expression of DUX4-fl in FSHD-derived human muscle and myogenic cells is extremely low, exogenous expression of DUX4-fl in somatic cells rapidly induces cytotoxicity, and, due in part to the lack of conservation beyond primate lineages, viable animal models based on DUX4-fl have been difficult to generate. By contrast, the FRG1 (FSHD region gene 1), which is linked to FSHD, is evolutionarily conserved from invertebrates to humans, and has been studied in several model organisms. FRG1 expression is critical for the development of musculature and vasculature, and overexpression of FRG1 produces a myopathic phenotype, yet the normal and pathological functions of FRG1 are not well understood. Interestingly, DUX4 and FRG1 were recently linked when the latter was identified as a direct transcriptional target of DUX4-FL. To better understand the pathways affected in FSHD by DUX4-fl and FRG1, we generated transgenic lines of Drosophila expressing either gene under control of the UAS/GAL4 binary system. Utilizing these lines, we generated screenable phenotypes recapitulating certain known consequences of DUX4-fl or FRG1 overexpression. These transgenic Drosophila lines provide resources to dissect the pathways affected by DUX4-fl or FRG1 in a genetically tractable organism and may provide insight into both muscle development and pathogenic mechanisms in FSHD.

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<![CDATA[Longitudinal Changes in the Motor Learning-Related Brain Activation Response in Presymptomatic Huntington's Disease]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d2ab0ee8fa60b64b09

Neurocognitive decline, including deficits in motor learning, occurs in the presymptomatic phase of Huntington’s disease (HD) and precedes the onset of motor symptoms. Findings from recent neuroimaging studies have linked these deficits to alterations in fronto-striatal and fronto-parietal brain networks. However, little is known about the temporal dynamics of these networks when subjects approach phenoconversion. Here, 10 subjects with presymptomatic HD were scanned with 15O-labeled water at baseline and again 1.5 years later while performing a motor sequence learning task and a kinematically matched control task. Spatial covariance analysis was utilized to characterize patterns of change in learning-related neural activation occurring over time in these individuals. Pattern expression was compared to corresponding values in 10 age-matched healthy control subjects. Spatial covariance analysis revealed significant longitudinal changes in the expression of a specific learning-related activation pattern characterized by increasing activity in the right orbitofrontal cortex, with concurrent reductions in the right medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate regions, the left insula, left precuneus, and left cerebellum. Changes in the expression of this pattern over time correlated with baseline measurements of disease burden and learning performance. The network changes were accompanied by modest improvement in learning performance that took place concurrently in the gene carriers. The presence of increased network activity in the setting of stable task performance is consistent with a discrete compensatory mechanism. The findings suggest that this effect is most pronounced in the late presymptomatic phase of HD, as subjects approach clinical onset.

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<![CDATA[Sex Differences in Circadian Dysfunction in the BACHD Mouse Model of Huntington’s Disease]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dab1ab0ee8fa60bab4d3

Huntington’s disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder that affects men and women in equal numbers, but some epidemiological studies indicate there may be sex differences in disease progression. One of the early symptoms of HD is disruptions in the circadian timing system, but it is currently unknown whether sex is a factor in these alterations. Since sex differences in HD could provide important insights to understand cellular and molecular mechanism(s) and designing early intervention strategies, we used the bacterial artificial chromosome transgenic mouse model of HD (BACHD) to examine whether sex differences in circadian behavioral rhythms are detectable in an animal model of the disease. Similar to BACHD males, BACHD females display circadian disruptions at both 3 and 6 months of age; however, deficits to BACHD female mouse activity levels, rhythm precision, and behavioral fragmentation are either delayed or less severe relative to males. These sex differences are associated with a smaller suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in BACHD male mice at age of symptom onset (3 months), but are not associated with sex-specific differences in SCN daytime electrical activity deficits, or peptide expression (arginine vasopressin, vasoactive intestinal peptide) within the SCN. Notably, BACHD females exhibited delayed motor coordination deficits, as measured using rotarod and challenge beam. These findings suggest a sex specific factor plays a role both in non-motor and motor symptom progression for the BACHD mouse.

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<![CDATA[Two Desmin Gene Mutations Associated with Myofibrillar Myopathies in Polish Families]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da03ab0ee8fa60b74e03

Desmin is a muscle-specific intermediate filament protein which forms a network connecting the sarcomere, T tubules, sarcolemma, nuclear membrane, mitochondria and other organelles. Mutations in the gene coding for desmin (DES) cause skeletal myopathies often combined with cardiomyopathy, or isolated cardiomyopathies. The molecular pathomechanisms of the disease remain ambiguous. Here, we describe and comprehensively characterize two DES mutations found in Polish patients with a clinical diagnosis of desminopathy. The study group comprised 16 individuals representing three families. Two mutations were identified: a novel missense mutation (Q348P) and a small deletion of nine nucleotides (A357_E359del), previously described by us in the Polish population. A common ancestry of all the families bearing the A357_E359del mutation was confirmed. Both mutations were predicted to be pathogenic using a bioinformatics approach, including molecular dynamics simulations which helped to rationalize abnormal behavior at molecular level. To test the impact of the mutations on DES expression and the intracellular distribution of desmin muscle biopsies were investigated. Elevated desmin levels as well as its atypical localization in muscle fibers were observed. Additional staining for M-cadherin, α-actinin, and myosin heavy chains confirmed severe disruption of myofibrill organization. The abnormalities were more prominent in the Q348P muscle, where both small atrophic fibers as well large fibers with centrally localized nuclei were observed. We propose that the mutations affect desmin structure and cause its aberrant folding and subsequent aggregation, triggering disruption of myofibrils organization.

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<![CDATA[Comparison of mHTT Antibodies in Huntington’s Disease Mouse Models Reveal Specific Binding Profiles and Steady-State Ubiquitin Levels with Disease Development]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daedab0ee8fa60bc0112

Huntington’s disease (HD) cellular pathology is characterised by the aggregation of mutant huntingtin (mHTT) protein into inclusion bodies. The present paper compared the sensitivity of five widely used mHTT antibodies (S830; MW8; EM48; 1C2; ubiquitin) against mice from five commonly used HD mouse models (R6/1; YAC128; HdhQ92; B6 HdhQ150; B6 x129/Ola HdhQ150) at two ages to determine: the most sensitive antibodies for each model; whether mHTT antibody binding differed depending on aggregation stage (diffuse versus frank inclusion); the role of ubiquitin during aggregation as the ubiquitin proteosome system has been implicated in disease development. The models demonstrated unique profiles of antibody binding even when the models varied only by background strain (HdhQ150). MW8 was highly sensitive for detecting frank inclusions in all lines whereas EM48, ubiquitin and 1C2 demonstrated consistent staining in all models irrespective of age or form of mHTT. MW8 and S830 were the most sensitive antibodies with 1C2 the least. Ubiquitin levels were stable for each model regardless of age. Ubiquitin was particularly sensitive in young YAC128 mice that demonstrate an absence of inclusions until ~12 months of age suggesting high affinity to mHTT in its diffuse form. The data indicate that generalisations across models regarding the quantification of aggregations may not be valid and that mHTT antibody binding is unique to the mouse model and sensitive to changes in inclusion development.

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<![CDATA[Two-Point Magnitude MRI for Rapid Mapping of Brown Adipose Tissue and Its Application to the R6/2 Mouse Model of Huntington Disease]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da31ab0ee8fa60b84b1b

The recent discovery of active brown fat in human adults has led to renewed interest in the role of this key metabolic tissue. This is particularly true for neurodegenerative conditions like Huntington disease (HD), an adult-onset heritable disorder with a prominent energy deficit phenotype. Current methods for imaging brown adipose tissue (BAT) are in limited use because they are equipment-wise demanding and often prohibitively expensive. This prompted us to explore how a standard MRI set-up can be modified to visualize BAT in situ by taking advantage of its characteristic fat/water content ratio to differentiate it from surrounding white fat. We present a modified MRI protocol for use on an 11.7 T small animal MRI scanner to visualize and quantify BAT in wild-type and disease model laboratory mice. In this application study using the R6/2 transgenic mouse model of HD we demonstrate a significantly reduced BAT volume in HD mice vs. matched controls (n = 5 per group). This finding provides a plausible structural explanation for the previously described temperature phenotype of HD mice and underscores the significance of peripheral tissue pathology for the HD phenotype. On a more general level, the results demonstrate the feasibility of MR-based BAT imaging in rodents and open the path towards transferring this imaging approach to human patients. Future studies are needed to determine if this method can be used to track disease progression in HD and other disease entities associated with BAT abnormalities, including metabolic conditions such as obesity, cachexia, and diabetes.

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