Identification of Novel Roles for the Survival Motor Neuron (Smn) Protein: Implications on Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Pathogenesis and Therapy

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Title: Identification of Novel Roles for the Survival Motor Neuron (Smn) Protein: Implications on Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Pathogenesis and Therapy
Authors: Bowerman, Melissa
Date: 2012
Abstract: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is the leading genetic cause of death of young children. It is an autosomal recessive disease caused by the mutation and/or the deletion within the ubiquitously expressed survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene. SMA pathology is characterized by spinal cord motor neuron degeneration, neuromuscular junction (NMJ) defects and muscular atrophy. Upon disease onset, SMA patients progressively become paralyzed and in the most severe cases, they die due to respiratory complications. Over the years, it has become clear that SMN is a multi-functional protein with important roles in small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP) assembly, RNA metabolism, axonal outgrowth and pathfinding, mRNA transport as well as in the functional development of NMJs, skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle. However, it remains unclear which of these functions, and the respective perturbed molecular pathways, dictate SMA pathogenesis. Here, we have established Smn-depleted PC12 cells and an intermediate SMA mouse model to characterize a role for Smn in the regulation of actin cytoskeleton dynamics. We find that Smn depletion results in the increased expression of profilin IIa and active RhoA (RhoA-GTP) as well as the decreased expression of plastin 3 and Cdc42. Importantly, the inhibition of rho-kinase (ROCK), a direct downstream regulator of RhoA, significantly increased the lifespan of SMA mice and shows beneficial potential as a therapeutic strategy for SMA. In an addition, we have uncovered a muscle- and motor neuron-independent role for SMN in the regulation of pancreatic development and glucose metabolism in SMA mice and type 1 SMA patients. This finding highlights the importance of combining a glucose tolerance assessment of SMA patients with their existing clinical care management. Thus, our work has uncovered two novel and equally important roles for the SMN protein, both of which contribute significantly to SMA pathogenesis.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/22727
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-5602
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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