The use of monogenic disease to study basal and disease associated mechanisms with focus on NGF dependent pain insensitivity and ISCU myopathy
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Monogenic diseases make excellent models for the study of gene functions and basal cellular mechanisms in humans. The aim of this thesis was to elucidate how genetic mutations affect the basal cellular mechanisms in the monogenic diseases Nerve growth factor (NGF) dependent pain insensitivity and Iron-Sulphur cluster assembly protein U (ISCU) myopathy.
NGF dependent pain insensitivity is a rare genetic disorder with clinical manifestations that include insensitivity to deep pain, development of Charcot joints, and impaired temperature sensation but with no effect on mental abilities. The disease is caused by a missense mutation in the NGFβ gene causing a drastic amino acid substitution (R221W) in a well-conserved region of the protein. NGF is secreted in limited amounts by its target tissues and is important for the development and maintenance of the cholinergic forebrain neurons as well as the sensory and sympathetic neurons. To reveal the underlying mechanisms of disease we performed functional studies of the mutant NGF protein. We could show that mutant NGF was unable to induce differentiation of PC12 cells as a consequence of impaired secretion. Furthermore, mutant NGF had different intracellular localisation compared to normal NGF and resided mostly in its unprocessed form proNGF. Mature NGF and proNGF have different binding properties to the receptors TrkA and p75. Individuals with mutations in TRKA are, aside from pain insensitive mentally affected; therefore it has been proposed that the R221W mutation mainly affects the interaction with p75. In agreement with this, we could show that R221W NGF was able to bind and activate TrkA whereas the interaction with p75 was impaired as compared to normal NGF.
ISCU myopathy is a monogenic disease where the affected patients suffer from severe exercise intolerance resulting in muscle cramps and sometimes severe lactic acidosis. The disease is caused by a point mutation in the last intron of the Iron sulphur cluster assembly gene, ISCU, resulting in the inclusion of a part of the intron in the mRNA. ISCU functions as a scaffold protein in the assembly of iron-sulphur (Fe-S) clusters important for electron transport in Kreb’s cycle and the respiratory chain. We have shown that ISCU is vital in mammals since complete knock-down of Iscu in mice results in early embryonic death. The deletion of ISCU homologous in lower organisms has also been shown fatal. In spite this central role in energy metabolism the disease is restricted to the patient’s skeletal muscles while other energy demanding organs seem unaffected. To address this contradiction we examined if tissue-specific differences in the splicing of mutant ISCU could explain the muscle-specific phenotype. We could show that the splicing pattern did, indeed, differ with more incorrectly spliced ISCU in muscle compared to other tissues. This was accompanied by a decrease in Fe-S containing proteins in muscle, while no decrease was observed in other tissues. Alternative splicing is more common then previously thought and may depend upon interacting factors and/or differences in the surrounding milieu. To reveal plausible mechanisms involved in the tissue-specific splicing we identified nuclear factors that interacted with the region where the mutation was located. Five interacting factors were identified, out of which three affected the splicing of ISCU. PTBP1 was shown to repress the incorrect splicing while IGF2BP1 and RBM39 repressed the formation of normal transcript and could also counteract the effect of PTBP1. IGF2BP1 was the only factor that showed higher affinity to the mutant sequence making it a possible key factor in the incorrect splicing of the mutant ISCU gene.
Together, these results offer important insights into the cellular mechanisms causing these diseases. We found impaired secretion and inaccurate sorting of NGF to be cellular mechanisms contributing to NGF dependent pain insensitivity while tissue-specific splicing of ISCU was found to be the event contributing to the phenotype of ISCU myopathy.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umea university, Department of Medical Biosciences , 2012. , 46 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1463
monogenic, disease, NGF, receptor, pain insensitivity, ISCU, myopathy, splicing
Other Basic Medicine
Research subject Molecular Medicine
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-51140ISBN: 978-91-7459-326-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-51140DiVA: diva2:479043
2012-02-10, Betula, By 6M, Norrlands Universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Woods, Geoff, Professor
Holmberg, Monica, Professor
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