K J Fowler

University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Publications (26)128.24 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The development of homologous recombination methods for the precise modification of bacterial artificial chromosomes has allowed the introduction of disease causing mutations or fluorescent reporter genes into human loci for functional studies. We have introduced the EGFP gene into the human PRPH-1 locus to create the Peripherin-EGFP (hPRPH1-G) genomic reporter construct. The hPRPH1-G reporter was used to create transgenic mice with an intrinsically fluorescent peripheral nervous system (PNS). During development, hPRPH1-G expression was concomitant with the acquisition of neuronal cell fate and growing axons could be observed in whole embryo mounts. In the adult, sensory neurons were labeled in both the PNS and central nervous system, while motor neurons in the spinal cord had more limited expression. The fusion protein labeled long neuronal processes, highlighting the peripheral circuitry of hPRPH1-G transgenic mice to provide a useful resource for a range of neurobiological applications.
    Transgenic Research 09/2008; 17(6):1103-16. · 2.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hemoglobin E (HbE) is caused by a G-->A mutation at codon 26 of the beta-globin gene, which substitutes Glu-->Lys. This mutation gives rise to functional but unstable hemoglobin and activates a cryptic splice site causing mild anemia. HbE reaches a carrier frequency of 60-80% in some Southeast Asian populations. HbE causes serious disease when co-inherited with a beta-thalassemia mutation. In this study, we report the creation and evaluation of humanized transgenic mice containing the beta(E) mutation in the context of the human beta-globin locus. Developmental expression of the human beta(E) locus transgene partially complements the hematological abnormalities in heterozygous knockout mice ((mu)beta(th-3/+)) and rescues the embryonic lethality of homozygous knockout mice ((mu)beta(th-3/th-3)). The phenotype of rescued mice was dependent on the transgene copy number. This mouse model displays hematological abnormalities similar to HbE/beta-thalassemia patients and represent an ideal in vivo model system for pathophysiological studies and evaluation of novel therapies.
    Genomics 09/2006; 88(3):309-15. · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mitotic spindle checkpoint proteins have been shown to play a crucial role in the accurate segregation of chromosomes during cell division. Bub3 is a member of a group of mitotic checkpoint proteins that are essential for this process. To investigate the role of Bub3 in chromosome segregation and cancer development, we analyzed haploinsufficient cells in mice. Heterozygous Bub3 embryonic fibroblasts displayed increased aneuploidy and premature sister-chromatid separation. In addition, when challenged with the microtubule disruptor nocodazole, the cells showed a slight increase in chromatid breakage and a decrease in the mitotic index. No substantial differences were observed between wild-type and Bub3 heterozygous mice in the frequency or the rate at which tumors appeared. Crossing Bub3(+/-) mice onto a heterozygous tumor-suppressor background of Trp53 or Rb1 similarly revealed no substantial differences in either the number or the rate at which tumors appeared. These results suggest that haploinsufficiency of Bub3 causes a slight increase in chromosome instability but is not clearly associated with a noticeable rise in the probability of tumor formation in the animal, possibly because of a partially functional mitotic checkpoint, or cells exhibiting chromosome instability could have activated the apoptosis pathway and thus escaped tumor induction and detection.
    Genes Chromosomes and Cancer 10/2005; 44(1):29-36. · 3.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We describe the cloning and characterisation of Spef1, a novel testis-specific gene. Spef1 has evolutionary orthologues in a wide range of species including mammals, other vertebrates, Drosophila, and protozoans with motile cilia or flagella. A second homologue of the gene, Spef2, is also present in several species, suggesting that these genes form part of a novel gene family. The Spef1 protein has two conserved domains, one of which is more strongly conserved in both homologues of the gene. Expression analysis of Spef1 in mice shows that it is expressed predominantly in adult testis, suggesting a role in spermatogenesis. Using an antibody generated to recombinant Spef1, we demonstrate a specific pattern of Spef1 localisation in the seminiferous epithelium of adult mouse testis. Further immunohistochemical analysis using electron microscopy shows Spef1 to be present in the tails of developing and epididymal sperm, internal to the fibrous sheath and around the outer dense fibres of the sperm flagellum.
    Gene 08/2005; 353(2):189-99. · 2.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Friedreich ataxia is an autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder caused by a GAA trinucleotide expansion in the first intron of the Friedreich ataxia gene (FRDA) that causes reduced synthesis of frataxin, a mitochondrial protein likely to be involved in biosynthesis of iron-sulfur clusters. This leads to increased oxidative stress, progressive loss of large sensory neurons, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. To elucidate the mechanisms regulating FRDA expression and to develop an in vivo assay for agents that might upregulate FRDA expression in a therapeutically relevant manner, we have generated transgenic mice with a BAC genomic reporter construct consisting of an in-frame fusion between FRDA and the gene coding for enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP). Production of full-length frataxin-EGFP fusion protein was demonstrated by immunoblotting. EGFP expression was observed as early as day E3.5 of development. Most tissues of adult transgenic mice were fluorescent. The level of FRDA-EGFP expression in peripheral blood, bone marrow, and cells obtained from enzymatically disaggregated tissues was quantitated by flow cytometry. There was a twofold increase in EGFP expression in mice homozygous for the transgene when compared to hemizygous mice. These transgenic mice are a valuable tool for the examination of spatial and temporal aspects of FRDA gene expression and for the preclinical evaluation of pharmacological inducers of FRDA expression in a whole-animal model. In addition, tissues from these mice should also be valuable for stem cell transplantation studies.
    Mammalian Genome 05/2005; 16(4):228-41. · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Accurate animal models that recapitulate the phenotype and genotype of patients with beta-thalassemia would enable the development of a range of possible therapeutic approaches. Here we report the generation of a mouse model carrying the codons 41-42 (-TTCT) beta-thalassemia mutation in the intact human beta-globin locus. This mutation accounts for approximately 40% of beta-thalassemia mutations in southern China and Thailand. We demonstrate a low level of production of gamma-globins from the mutant locus in day 18 embryos, as well as production of mutant human beta-globin mRNA. However, in contrast to transgenic mice carrying the normal human beta-globin locus, 4-bp deletion mice fail to show any phenotypic complementation of the knockout mutation of both murine beta-globin genes. Our studies suggest that this is a valuable model for gene correction in hemopoietic stem cells and for studying the effects of HbF inducers in vivo in a "humanized" thalassemic environment.
    Genomics 05/2005; 85(4):453-61. · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Molecular Therapy (2005) 11, S373|[ndash]|S374; doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2005.07.510 967. Transgenic Genomic Reporter Assays for Functional Studies and Stem Cell Therapy Joseph P. Sarsero1, Samuel McLenachan1, Timothy P. Holloway1, Lingli Li1, Kerry J. Fowler2, Ivan Bertoncello3, Lucille Voullaire1, Sophie Gazeas2 and Panos A. Ioannou11Cell and Gene Therapy, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia2Disease Model Unit, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia3Stem Cell Research Laboratory, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    Molecular Therapy 04/2005; · 7.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human neocentromeres are functional centromeres that are devoid of the typical human centromeric alpha-satellite DNA. We have transferred a 60-Mb chromosome 10-derived neocentric marker chromosome, mardel(10), and its truncated 3.5-Mb derivative, NC-MiC1, into mouse embryonic stem cell and have demonstrated a relatively high structural and mitotic stability of the transchromosomes in a heterologous genetic background. We have also produced chimeric mice carrying mardel(10) or NC-MiC1. Both transchromosomes were detected as intact episomal entities in a variety of adult chimeric mouse tissues including hemopoietic stem cells. Genes residing on these transchromosomes were expressed in the different tissues tested. Meiotic transmission of both transchromosomes in the chimeric mice was evident from the detection of DNA from these chromosomes in sperm samples. In particular, germ line transmission of NC-MiC1 was demonstrated in the F1 embryos of the chimeric mice. Variable (low in mardel(10)- or NC-MiC1-containing embryonic stem cells and chimeric mouse tissues and relatively high in NC-MiC1-containing F1 embryos) levels of missegregation of these transchromosomes were detected, suggesting that they are not optimally predisposed to full mitotic regulation in the mouse background, particularly during early embryogenesis. These results provide promising data in support of the potential use of neocentromere-based human marker chromosomes and minichromosomes as a tool for the study of centromere, neocentromere, and chromosome biology and for gene therapy studies in a mouse model system. They also highlight the need to further understand and overcome the factors that are responsible for the definable rates of instability of these transchromosomes in a mouse model.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 03/2005; 280(5):3954-62. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Three independent transgenic mouse lines were generated with the human Friedreich ataxia gene, FRDA, in an 188-kb bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) genomic sequence. Three copies of the transgene per diploid mouse genome were integrated in a single site in each mouse line. Transgenic mice were mated with mice heterozygous for a knockout mutation of the murine Frda gene, to generate mice homozygous for the Frda knockout mutation and hemizygous or homozygous for the human transgene. Rescue of the embryonic lethality that is associated with homozygosity for the Frda knockout mutation was observed in all three lines. Rescued mice displayed normal behavioral and biochemical parameters. RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that human FRDA mRNA is expressed in all the lines. The relative expression of the human FRDA and mouse Frda genes showed a similar pattern in different tissues in all three lines, indicating position-independent control of expression of the human FRDA transgene. However, large differences in the human:mouse mRNA ratio were observed between different tissues in all three lines. The human transgene is expressed at much higher levels in the brain, liver, and skeletal muscle than the endogenous gene, while expression of the human transgene in blood is only 25-30% of the mouse gene. These studies will facilitate the development of humanized mouse models of Friedreich ataxia through introduction of a GAA trinucleotide expansion or specific known point mutations in the normal human FRDA locus and the study of the regulation of gene expression from the FRDA locus.
    Mammalian Genome 06/2004; 15(5):370-82. · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Centromere protein B is a highly conserved constitutive protein found at centromeres. Gene knockout studies in mice have unexpectedly identified Cenpb as a candidate gene involved in uterine function. The present study further explores the role of Cenpb in mice by intermating Cenpb-null mice over several generations. Breeding studies and analysis of uterine tissue indicate that Cenpb-null mice lose reproductive fitness over a number of generations due to a significant reduction in endometrial glands. These results suggest that Cenpb may play an important function in the short- and long-term maintenance of uterine integrity.
    Reproduction (Cambridge, England) 04/2004; 127(3):367-77. · 3.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA mutations can cause energy generation disorders. Respiratory chain complex I deficiency is the most common energy generation disorder and a frequent cause of infantile mitochondrial encephalopathies such as Leigh's disease and lethal infantile mitochondrial disease. Most such cases have been assumed to be caused by nuclear gene defects, but recently an increasing number have been shown to be caused by mutations in the mitochondrially encoded complex I subunit genes ND4, ND5, and ND6. We report the first four cases of infantile mitochondrial encephalopathies caused by mutations in the ND3 subunit gene. Three unrelated children have the same novel heteroplasmic mutation (T10158C), only the second mutation reported in ND3, and one has the previously identified T10191C mutation. Both mutations cause disproportionately greater reductions in enzyme activity than in the amount of fully assembled complex I, suggesting the ND3 subunit plays an unknown but important role in electron transport, proton pumping, or ubiquinone binding. Three cases appear to have a de novo mutation, with no mutation detected in maternal relatives. Mitochondrial DNA disease may be considerably more prevalent in the pediatric population than currently predicted and should be considered in patients with infantile mitochondrial encephalopathies and complex I deficiency.
    Annals of Neurology 02/2004; 55(1):58-64. · 11.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Methylmalonic aciduria is a human autosomal recessive disorder of organic acid metabolism resulting from a functional defect in the activity of the enzyme methylmalonyl-CoA mutase. Based upon the homology of the human mutase locus with the mouse locus, we have chosen to disrupt the mouse mutase locus within the critical CoA binding domain using gene-targeting techniques to create a mouse model of methylmalonic aciduria. The phenotype of homozygous knock-out mice (mut-/-) is one of early neonatal lethality. Mice appear phenotypically normal at birth and are indistinguishable from littermates. By 15 h of age, they develop reduced movement and suckle less. This is followed by the development of abnormal breathing, and all of the mice with a null phenotype die by 24 h of age. Urinary levels of methylmalonic and methylcitric acids are grossly increased. Measurement of acylcarnitines in blood shows elevation of propionylcarnitine with no change in the levels of acetylcarnitine and free carnitine. Incorporation of [14C]propionate in primary fibroblast cultures from mut-/- mice is reduced to approximately 6% of normal level, whereas there is no detectable synthesis of mut mRNA in the liver. This is the first mouse model that recapitulates the key phenotypic features of mut0 methylmalonic aciduria.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 01/2004; 278(52):52909-13. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CENP-A is an essential histone H3-like protein that localizes to the centromeric region of eukaryotic chromosomes. Heterozygous and homozygous Cenpa-GFP fusion-protein mouse mutants, generated through targeted insertion of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene into the mouse Cenpa gene locus, show specific localized fluorescence at all the centromeres. Heterozygous mice are healthy and fertile. Cenpa-GFP homozygotes (Cenpag/g) undergo many cell divisions, giving rise to up to one million cells that show relatively accurate differentiation into distinct mouse embryonic tissues until day 10.5 when significant levels of chromosome missegregation, aneuploidy and apoptosis result in death. Cenpag/g embryos assemble functional kinetochores that bind to a host of centromere-specific structural and mitotic spindle checkpoint proteins (Cenpc, BubR1, Mad2 and Zw10). Examination of the nucleosomal phasing of centromeric minor and pericentromeric major satellite sequences indicates that the formation of Cenpag/g homotypic nucleosomes is not accompanied by any overt alteration to the overall size of the monomeric nucleosomal structure or the spacing of these structures. This study provides the first example of an essential centromeric protein gene variant in which subtle perturbation at the centromeric nucleosomal/chromatin level manifests in a significantly delayed lethality when compared with Cenpa null mice.
    Chromosome Research 02/2003; 11(4):345-57. · 3.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Survivin is a mammalian protein that carries a motif typical of the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP)proteins, first identified in baculoviruses. Although baculoviral IAP proteins regulate cell death, the yeast Survivin homolog Bir1 is involved in cell division. To determine the function of Survivin in mammals, we analyzed the pattern of localization of Survivin protein during the cell cycle, and deleted its gene by homologous recombination in mice. In human cells, Survivin appeared first on centromeres bound to a novel para-polar axis during prophase/metaphase, relocated to the spindle midzone during anaphase/telophase, and disappeared at the end of telophase. In the mouse, Survivin was required for mitosis during development. Null embryos showed disrupted microtubule formation, became polyploid, and failed to survive beyond 4.5days post coitum. This phenotype, and the cell-cycle localization of Survivin, resembled closely those of INCENP. Because the yeast homolog of INCENP, Sli15, regulates the Aurora kinase homolog Ipl1p, and the yeast Survivin homolog Bir1 binds to Ndc10p, a substrate of Ipl1p, yeast Survivin, INCENP and Aurora homologs function in concert during cell division. In vertebrates, Survivin and INCENP have related roles in mitosis, coordinating events such as microtubule organization, cleavage-furrow formation and cytokinesis. Like their yeast homologs Bir1 and Sli15, they may also act together with the Aurora kinase.
    Current Biology 12/2000; 10(21):1319-28. · 9.49 Impact Factor
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    P Kalitsis, E Earle, K J Fowler, K H Choo
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    ABSTRACT: Bub3 is a conserved component of the mitotic spindle assembly complex. The protein is essential for early development in Bub3 gene-disrupted mice, evident from their failure to survive beyond day 6.5-7.5 postcoitus (pc). Bub3 null embryos appear normal up to day 3.5 pc but accumulate mitotic errors from days 4.5-6.5 pc in the form of micronuclei, chromatin bridging, lagging chromosomes, and irregular nuclear morphology. Null embryos treated with a spindle-depolymerising agent fail to arrest in metaphase and show an increase in mitotic disarray. The results confirm Bub3 as a component of the essential spindle checkpoint pathway that operates during early embryogenesis.
    Genes & Development 10/2000; 14(18):2277-82. · 12.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Centromere protein A (Cenpa for mouse, CENP-A for other species) is a histone H3-like protein that is thought to be involved in the nucleosomal packaging of centromeric DNA. Using gene targeting, we have disrupted the mouse Cenpa gene and demonstrated that the gene is essential. Heterozygous mice are healthy and fertile whereas null mutants fail to survive beyond 6.5 days postconception. Affected embryos show severe mitotic problems, including micronuclei and macronuclei formation, nuclear bridging and blebbing, and chromatin fragmentation and hypercondensation. Immunofluorescence analysis of interphase cells at day 5.5 reveals complete Cenpa depletion, diffuse Cenpb foci, absence of discrete Cenpc signal on centromeres, and dispersion of Cenpb and Cenpc throughout the nucleus. These results suggest that Cenpa is essential for kinetochore targeting of Cenpc and plays an early role in organizing centromeric chromatin at interphase. The evidence is consistent with the proposal of a critical epigenetic function for CENP-A in marking a chromosomal region for centromere formation.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2000; 97(3):1148-53. · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • Cytogenetics and cell genetics 02/2000; 90(1-2):56-7.
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    ABSTRACT: Centromere protein B (CENP-B) binds constitutively to mammalian centromere repeat DNA and is highly conserved between humans and mouse. Cenpb null mice appear normal but have lower body and testis weights. We demonstrate here that testis-weight reduction is seen in male null mice generated on three different genetic backgrounds (denoted R1, W9.5, and C57), whereas body-weight reduction is dependent on the genetic background as well as the gender of the animals. In addition, Cenpb null females show 31%, 33%, and 44% reduced uterine weights on the R1, W9.5, and C57 backgrounds, respectively. Production of "revertant" mice lacking the targeted frameshift mutation but not the other components of the targeting construct corrected these differences, indicating that the observed phenotype is attributable to Cenpb gene disruption rather than a neighbouring gene effect induced by the targeting construct. The R1 and W9.5 Cenpb null females are reproductively competent but show age-dependent reproductive deterioration leading to a complete breakdown at or before 9 months of age. Reproductive dysfunction is much more severe in the C57 background as Cenpb null females are totally incompetent or are capable of producing no more than one litter. These results implicate a further genetic modifier effect on female reproductive performance. Histology of the uterus reveals normal myometrium and endometrium but grossly disrupted luminal and glandular epithelium. Tissue in situ hybridization demonstrates high Cenpb expression in the uterine epithelium of wild-type animals. This study details the first significant phenotype of Cenpb gene disruption and suggests an important role of Cenpb in uterine morphogenesis and function that may have direct implications for human reproductive pathology.
    Genome Research 02/2000; 10(1):30-41. · 14.40 Impact Factor
  • Cytogenetics and Cell Genetics - CYTOGENET CELL GENET. 01/2000; 90:56-57.
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    ABSTRACT: INCENP is a chromosomal passenger protein which relocates from the centromere to thel spindle midzone during the metaphase-anaphase transition, ultimately being discarded in the cell midbody at the completion of cytokinesis. Using homologous recombination, we have generated Incenp gene-targeted heterozygous mice that are phenotypically indistinguishable from their wild-type littermates. Intercrossing the hetero-zygotes results in no live-born homozygous Incenp -disrupted progeny, indicating an early lethality. Day 3.5 affected pre-implantation embryos contain large, morphologically abnormal cells that fail to fully develop a blastocoel cavity or thrive in utero and in culture. Chromatin and tubulin immunocytochemical stainings of these and day 2.5 affected embryos reveal a high mitotic index, no discernible metaphase or anaphase stages, complete absence of midbodies, micronuclei formation, morphologically irregular macronuclei with large chromosome complements, multipolar mitotic configurations, binucleated cells, internuclear bridges and abnormal spindle bundling. The phenotype is consistent with a defect in the modulation of microtubule dynamics, severely affecting chromosome segregation and resulting in poorly resolved chromatin masses, aberrant karyokinesis and internuclear bridge formation. These latter occurrences could pose a physical barrier blocking cytokinesis.
    Human Molecular Genetics 08/1999; 8(7):1145-55. · 7.69 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
128.24 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008
    • University of Melbourne
      • Department of Paediatrics
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 2000–2006
    • Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
      • • Research Group for Cell & Gene Therapy
      • • Research Theme of Cell Biology, Development & Disease
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    • Walter And Eliza Hall Institute For Medical Research
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 1997–2004
    • The Royal Children's Hospital
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia