Down Syndrome Mouse

January 18, 2007

Looks like the Down Syndrome Mouse is really starting to pay off

Two papers in the July 6, 2006, Neuron, published by Cell Press, report evidence that surprisingly simple genetic abnormalities in the machinery of critical neuronal growth-regulating molecules can kill neurons in Down’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders. The researchers said their basic findings could aid progress toward treatment for the cognitive deficits in these disorders.

n humans, Down’s syndrome is caused by a trisomy–an abnormal three copies of chromosome 21. Such trisomy causes an increased “dosage” of genes on that chromosome, and a central mystery of Down’s syndrome is how such an overdose of particular genes leads to such abnormalities as mental retardation.

In their papers, Salehi and colleagues and Tessarollo and colleagues studied mice genetically engineered to mimic the trisomy seen in human Down’s syndrome. Their aim was to discover the machinery by which this trisomy ultimately causes the death of neurons that are important for cognitive function.

Salehi et al. find that an increase in the expression of only one gene, for amyloid precursor protein (APP), disrupts transport of the neurotrophin “nerve growth factor” (NGF). APP is also a central molecule in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Dorsey et al. paper describes how restoring the normal cellular levels of a Trk receptor for the neurotrophin “brain-derived neurotrophin factor” (BDNF) rescues neuronal death in another mouse model of Down’s syndrome.

Salehi et al. found that the NGF transport disruption leads to the degeneration of “basal forebrain cholinergic neurons” (BFCNs) important for cognitive function. This deterioration of BFCNs is similar to that seen in Alzheimer’s disease and is caused by abnormal APP function. Since in people with Down’s syndrome, the APP gene resides on the trisomic chromosome, Salehi and colleagues reasoned that an overdose of APP might also play a role in neuronal degeneration in Down’s syndrome and thereby contribute to cognitive deficits in both Down’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.


One comment

  1. […] Sighted The future is now « Transgenesis Down Syndrome Mouse » Of Mice and Men – Transgenic Mouse Models July 15th,2006 […]

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