Hazel P Williams

UCL Eastman Dental Institute, Londinium, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (2)8.21 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in the enzyme glycyl-tRNA synthetase (GARS) cause motor and sensory axon loss in the peripheral nervous system in humans, described clinically as Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 2D or distal spinal muscular atrophy type V. Here, we characterise a new mouse mutant, Gars(C201R), with a point mutation that leads to a non-conservative substitution within GARS. Heterozygous mice with a C3H genetic background have loss of grip strength, decreased motor flexibility and disruption of fine motor control; this relatively mild phenotype is more severe on a C57BL/6 background. Homozygous mutants have a highly deleterious set of features, including movement difficulties and death before weaning. Heterozygous animals have a reduction in axon diameter in peripheral nerves, slowing of nerve conduction and an alteration in the recovery cycle of myelinated axons, as well as innervation defects. An assessment of GARS levels showed increased protein in 15-day-old mice compared with controls; however, this increase was not observed in 3-month-old animals, indicating that GARS function may be more crucial in younger animals. We found that enzyme activity was not reduced detectably in heterozygotes at any age, but was diminished greatly in homozygous mice compared with controls; thus, homozygous animals may suffer from a partial loss of function. The Gars(C201R) mutation described here is a contribution to our understanding of the mechanism by which mutations in tRNA synthetases, which are fundamentally important, ubiquitously expressed enzymes, cause axonopathy in specific sets of neurons.
    Disease Models and Mechanisms 06/2009; 2(7-8):359-73. DOI:10.1242/dmm.002527 · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In humans, mutations in the enzyme glycyl-tRNA synthetase (GARS) cause motor and sensory axon loss in the peripheral nervous system, and clinical phenotypes ranging from Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathy to a severe infantile form of spinal muscular atrophy. GARS is ubiquitously expressed and may have functions in addition to its canonical role in protein synthesis through catalyzing the addition of glycine to cognate tRNAs. We have recently described a new mouse model with a point mutation in the Gars gene resulting in a cysteine to arginine change at residue 201. Heterozygous Gars(C201R/+) mice have locomotor and sensory deficits. In an investigation of genetic mutations that lead to death of motor and sensory neurons, we have crossed the Gars(C201R/+) mice to two other mutants: the TgSOD1(G93A) model of human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and the Legs at odd angles mouse (Dync1h1(Loa)) which has a defect in the heavy chain of the dynein complex. We found the Dync1h1(Loa/+);Gars(C201R/+) double heterozygous mice are more impaired than either parent, and this is may be an additive effect of both mutations. Surprisingly, the Gars(C201R) mutation significantly delayed disease onset in the SOD1(G93A);Gars(C201R/+) double heterozygous mutant mice and increased lifespan by 29% on the genetic background investigated. These findings raise intriguing possibilities for the study of pathogenetic mechanisms in all three mouse mutant strains.
    PLoS ONE 02/2009; 4(7):e6218. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0006218 · 3.23 Impact Factor