[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recessive mutations in parkin are the most common cause of familial early-onset Parkinson's disease (PD). Recent studies suggest that certain parkin mutants may exert dominant toxic effects to cultured cells and such dominant toxicity can lead to progressive dopaminergic (DA) neuron degeneration in Drosophila. To explore whether mutant parkin could exert similar pathogenic effects to mammalian DA neurons in vivo, we developed a BAC (bacterial artificial chromosome) transgenic mouse model expressing a C-terminal truncated human mutant parkin (Parkin-Q311X) in DA neurons driven by a dopamine transporter promoter. Parkin-Q311X mice exhibit multiple late-onset and progressive hypokinetic motor deficits. Stereological analyses reveal that the mutant mice develop age-dependent DA neuron degeneration in substantia nigra accompanied by a significant loss of DA neuron terminals in the striatum. Neurochemical analyses reveal a significant reduction of the striatal dopamine level in mutant mice, which is significantly correlated with their hypokinetic motor deficits. Finally, mutant Parkin-Q311X mice, but not wild-type controls, exhibit age-dependent accumulation of proteinase K-resistant endogenous alpha-synuclein in substantia nigra and colocalized with 3-nitrotyrosine, a marker for oxidative protein damage. Hence, our study provides the first mammalian genetic evidence that dominant toxicity of a parkin mutant is sufficient to elicit age-dependent hypokinetic motor deficits and DA neuron loss in vivo, and uncovers a causal relationship between dominant parkin toxicity and progressive alpha-synuclein accumulation in DA neurons. Our study underscores the need to further explore the putative link between parkin dominant toxicity and PD.
Journal of Neuroscience 03/2009; 29(7):1962-76. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) proteins in Huntington's disease (HD) as well as other polyQ disorders are known to elicit a variety of intracellular toxicities, but it remains unclear whether polyQ proteins can elicit pathological cell-cell interactions which are critical to disease pathogenesis. To test this possibility, we have created conditional HD mice expressing a neuropathogenic form of mutant huntingtin (mhtt-exon1) in discrete neuronal populations. We show that mhtt aggregation is a cell-autonomous process. However, progressive motor deficits and cortical neuropathology are only observed when mhtt expression is in multiple neuronal types, including cortical interneurons, but not when mhtt expression is restricted to cortical pyramidal neurons. We further demonstrate an early deficit in cortical inhibition, suggesting that pathological interactions between interneurons and pyramidal neurons may contribute to the cortical manifestation of HD. Our study provides genetic evidence that pathological cell-cell interactions elicited by neuropathogenic forms of mhtt can critically contribute to cortical pathogenesis in a HD mouse model.