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Progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the ventral midbrain of adult mice heterozygote for Engrailed1

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Mixte de Recherche 8542, Development and Evolution of the Nervous System, Group Development and Neuropharmacology, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 75230 Paris Cedex 05, France.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 02/2007; 27(5):1063-71. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4583-06.2007
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ABSTRACT Engrailed1 and Engrailed2 (En1 and En2) are two developmental genes of the homeogene family expressed in the developing midbrain. En1 and, to a lesser degree, En2 also are expressed in the adult substantia nigra (SN) and ventral tegmental area (VTA), two dopaminergic (DA) nuclei of the ventral midbrain. In an effort to study En1/2 adult functions, we have analyzed the phenotype of mice lacking one En1 allele in an En2 wild-type context. We show that in this mutant the number of DA neurons decreases slowly between 8 and 24 weeks after birth to reach a stable 38 and 23% reduction in the SN and VTA, respectively, and that neuronal loss can be antagonized by En2 recombinant protein infusions in the midbrain. These loss and gain of function experiments firmly establish that En1/2 is a true survival factor for DA neurons in vivo. Neuronal death in the mutant is paralleled by a 37% decrease in striatal DA, with no change in serotonin content. Using established protocols, we show that, compared with their wild-type littermates, En1+/- mice have impaired motor skills, an anhedonic-like behavior, and an enhanced resignation phenotype; they perform poorly in social interactions. However, these mice do not differ from their wild-type littermates in anxiety-measuring tests. Together, these results demonstrate that En1/2 genes have important adult physiological functions. They also suggest that mice lacking only one En1 allele could provide a novel model for the study of diseases associated with progressive DA cell death.

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Available from: Gwenaëlle Le Pen, Aug 22, 2015
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    • "The most notable phenotype was observed in En1 (+/−)/En2 (+/+) mutant mice, which display a progressive degeneration (between 8 and 24 weeks) of VM DA neurons that can be antagonised by recombinant En2 protein infusion (Sonnier et al., 2007). The progressive degeneration of VM DA neurons in En1 heterozygotes (En2 null background in Sgado et al. (2006) study) is more pronounced in the SNc and results in reduced striatal DA and motor deficits, as is characteristic of PD pathology (Sgado et al., 2006; Sonnier et al., 2007). These findings further support the theory that En1/En2 function as important survival-promoting factors for VM DA neurons. "
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    • "Bcl-X L effects on maturation are marginal, as discussed later. EN1, LMX1B, NURR1 and PITX3 are not only involved in development, but also in the survival/maintenance of functional A9-DAn ([50] [51] [52] [53] [54] reviewed in [6] [15] [24] [49] [77]). In control hVM1 cells the expression levels of these genes first increase during differentiation (but for PITX3), to later return to values close to basal levels (Fig. 3A and Fig. 5A). "
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