Azlina Ahmad-Annuar

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (7)63.48 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The cytoplasmic dynein-dynactin complex has been implicated in the aetiology of motor neuron degeneration in both mouse models and human forms of motor neuron disease. We have previously shown that mutations in the cytoplasmic dynein 1 heavy chain 1 gene (Dync1h1) are causal in a mouse model of late-onset motor neuron degeneration but have found no association of the homologous sites in human DYNC1H1 with human motor neuron disease. Here we extend these analyses to investigate the DYNC1H1 genomic locus to determine if it is associated with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in a northern European-derived population. Among the 16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) we examined, just two SNPs (rs2251644 and rs941793) were sufficient to tag the majority of haplotypic variation (r2 > or = 0.85) and these were tested in a case-control association study with 266 North American sporadic ALS patients and 225 matched controls. We found no association between genetic variation at DYNC1H1 and sporadic ALS (rs2251644; p = 0.538, rs941793; p = 0.204, haplotype; p = 0.956). In addition we investigated patterns of diversity at DYNC1H1 in Japanese and Cameroonian populations to establish the evolutionary history for this gene and observed reduced genetic diversity in the northern Europeans suggestive of selection at this locus.
    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: official publication of the World Federation of Neurology Research Group on Motor Neuron Diseases 03/2006; 7(1):46-56. DOI:10.1080/14660820500397057 · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It is estimated that between 10-20% of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is familial and these cases encompass recessive and dominant modes of inheritance. So far, mutations in three genes, superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), the p150 subunit of dynactin (DCTN1), and alsin have been shown to be directly causal for motor neuron degeneration in humans. However, clearly the disorder is genetically heterogeneous and other causal genes remain to be found that explain the vast majority of familial ALS cases. Human genetics can be problematical in that it is difficult to detect linkage in disorders in which multiple loci give similar phenotypes and where families are often small. In addition, the vertical collection of generations is often not possible with late onset disorders. An excellent genetic model of humans is provided by the mouse. We can use mouse models of neurodegeneration to find new genes in the human population. These models are not exact replicas of the human condition, but are the mouse equivalent and are incredibly valuable resources for highlighting genes and biochemical pathways disrupted in ALS and other diseases. In addition mouse models give us access to both control and affected tissues, at all stages of development and disease, thus greatly facilitating our understanding of pathogenesis. They also provide us with model systems for testing new therapies. Here we describe the approach taken to the characterization of new models of motor neuron disease and illustrate this with examples, including a recently characterized mouse model, Legs at odd angles (Loa).
    Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 01/2004; 4(4):249-57. DOI:10.1080/14660820310016084
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    ABSTRACT: We have shown in a mouse model of motor neuron disease, the legs-at-odd-angles (Loa) mutant, and that mutations in the cytoplasmic dynein heavy chain gene (Dnchc1) cause motor neuron degeneration. Mice exhibiting the Loa phenotype suffer progressive loss of locomotor function and homozygous animals have neuronal inclusion bodies that are positive for SOD1, CDK5, neurofilament and ubiquitin proteins. As this phenotype models some aspects of human motor neuron degeneration disorders, we think there is a reasonable likelihood that dynein may be a causative gene or susceptibility factor in human motor neuron disease. Therefore we have screened exons of this gene in a set of human patients with familial forms of disparate motor neuron degeneration diseases, affecting both upper and lower motor neurons: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), and hereditary spastic paraplegia. As part of this study, we have determined that DNCHC1 is a large gene of 78 exons spanning 86 kb genomic length. We have focused on the exons known to be mutated in Loa, and in a very similar mouse mutation, cramping 1 (Cra1); both mutations result in loss of anterior horn cells. The exons studied are highly conserved in a wide range of eukaryotes. We screened our patient samples by sequencing and although we detect single nucleotide polymorphisms, our results show these occur at the same frequency in our patient group as in control samples of unaffected individuals. Therefore we do not find any association between familial motor neuron disease and the genotypes presented here in the exons screened.
    Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 10/2003; 4(3):150-7. DOI:10.1080/14660820310011737
  • Azlina Ahmad-Annuar, Sarah J Tabrizi, Elizabeth M C Fisher
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this review is to present recent advances in the both the creation and the use of mouse models of human neurodegenerative disease. We briefly touch on the technologies used to make these models, and then focus on recent results from new models. We discuss why such models are useful when they do - and do not - mimic the human disorder. The numbers of mouse models are increasing dramatically and are starting to yield important results for human disease. We present a selection of new and important models and the results of recent investigations of these animals. An accepted protocol when studying any form of human neurodegenerative disease is to investigate the genetics, pathology, neurophysiology, response to therapeutics, etc., of the disorder in the mouse. This approach is clearly bearing fruit for our understanding and treatment of human neurodegeneration.
    Current Opinion in Neurology 09/2003; 16(4):451-8. DOI:10.1097/01.wco.0000084221.82329.29 · 5.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Degenerative disorders of motor neurons include a range of progressive fatal diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal-bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Although the causative genetic alterations are known for some cases, the molecular basis of many SMA and SBMA-like syndromes and most ALS cases is unknown. Here we show that missense point mutations in the cytoplasmic dynein heavy chain result in progressive motor neuron degeneration in heterozygous mice, and in homozygotes this is accompanied by the formation of Lewy-like inclusion bodies, thus resembling key features of human pathology. These mutations exclusively perturb neuron-specific functions of dynein.
    Science 06/2003; 300(5620):808-12. DOI:10.1126/science.1083129 · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mouse has many advantages over human beings for the study of genetics, including the unique property that genetic manipulation can be routinely carried out in the mouse genome. Most importantly, mice and human beings share the same mammalian genes, have many similar biochemical pathways, and have the same diseases. In the minority of cases where these features do not apply, we can still often gain new insights into mouse and human biology. In addition to existing mouse models, several major programmes have been set up to generate new mouse models of disease. Alongside these efforts are new initiatives for the clinical, behavioural, and physiological testing of mice. Molecular genetics has had a major influence on our understanding of the causes of neurological disorders in human beings, and much of this has come from work in mice.
    The Lancet Neurology 09/2002; 1(4):215-24. DOI:10.1016/S1474-4422(02)00100-X · 21.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A variety of loci with interesting patterns of regulation such as imprinted expression, and critical functions such as involvement in tumour necrosis factor pathways, map to a distal portion of mouse chromosome 12. This region also contains disease related loci including the 'Legs at odd angles' mutation (Loa) that we are pursuing in a positional cloning project. To further define the region and prepare for comparative sequencing projects, we have produced genetic, radiation hybrid, physical and transcript maps of the region, with probes providing anchors between the maps. We show a summary of 95 markers and 91 genomic clones that has enabled us to identify 18 transcripts including new genes and candidates for Loa which will help in future studies of gene context and regulation.
    Gene 02/2002; 283(1-2):71-82. DOI:10.1016/S0378-1119(01)00853-8 · 2.08 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

500 Citations
63.48 Total Impact Points


  • 2006
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2003
    • Queen Mary, University of London
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2002
    • Imperial College London
      • Department of Computing
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom