A New Mouse Model of Giant Axonal Neuropathy with Overt Phenotypes and Neurodegeneration Driven by Neurofilament Disorganization.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Neurosci, Volume 43, Issue 22, p.4174-4189 (2023)


Animals, Cytoskeletal Proteins, Female, Giant Axonal Neuropathy, Humans, Intermediate Filament Proteins, Intermediate Filaments, Male, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Phenotype


<p>Research on pathogenic mechanisms underlying giant axonal neuropathy (GAN), a disease caused by a deficiency of gigaxonin, has been hindered by the lack of appropriate animal models exhibiting substantial symptoms and large neurofilament (NF) swellings, a hallmark of the human disease. It is well established that intermediate filament (IF) proteins are substrates for gigaxonin-mediated degradation. However, it has remained unknown to what extent NF accumulations contribute to GAN pathogenesis. Here, we report the generation of a new mouse model of GAN that is based on crossing transgenic mice overexpressing peripherin (Prph) with mice knockout for The Gan;TgPer mice developed early onset sensory-motor deficits along with IF accumulations made up of NF proteins and of Prph, causing swelling of spinal neurons at a young age. Abundant inclusion bodies composed of disorganized IFs were also detected in the brain of Gan;TgPer mice. At 12 months of age, the Gan;TgPer mice exhibited cognitive deficits as well as severe sensory and motor defects. The disease was associated with neuroinflammation and substantial loss of cortical neurons and spinal neurons. Giant axons (≥160 μm) enlarged by disorganized IFs, a hallmark of GAN disease, were also detected in dorsal and ventral roots of the Gan;TgPer mice. These results, obtained with both sexes, support the view that the disorganization of IFs can drive some neurodegenerative changes caused by gigaxonin deficiency. This new mouse model should be useful to investigate the pathogenic changes associated with GAN disease and for drug testing. Research on pathogenic mechanism and treatment of GAN has been hampered by the lack of animal models exhibiting overt phenotypes and substantial neurofilament disorganization, a hallmark of the disease. Moreover, it remains unknown whether neurologic defects associated with gigaxonin deficiency in GAN are because of neurofilament disorganization as gigaxonin may also act on other protein substrates to mediate their degradation. This study reports the generation of a new mouse model of GAN based on overexpression of Prph in the context of targeted disruption of gigaxonin gene. The results support the view that neurofilament disorganization may contribute to neurodegenerative changes in GAN disease. The Gan;TgPer mice provide a unique animal model of GAN for drug testing.</p>

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