Familial dysautonomia is caused by mutations of the IKAP gene.
ABSTRACT: The defective gene DYS, which is responsible for familial dysautonomia (FD) and has been mapped to a 0.5-cM region on chromosome 9q31, has eluded identification. We identified and characterized the RNAs encoded by this region of chromosome 9 in cell lines derived from individuals homozygous for the major FD haplotype, and we observed that the RNA encoding the IkappaB kinase complex-associated protein (IKAP) lacks exon 20 and, as a result of a frameshift, encodes a truncated protein. Sequence analysis reveals a T-->C transition in the donor splice site of intron 20. In individuals bearing a minor FD haplotype, a missense mutation in exon 19 disrupts a consensus serine/threonine kinase phosphorylation site. This mutation results in defective phosphorylation of IKAP. These mutations were observed to be present in a random sample of Ashkenazi Jewish individuals, at approximately the predicted carrier frequency of FD. These findings demonstrate that mutations in the gene encoding IKAP are responsible for FD.
Project description:Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a rare neurodegenerative disease caused by a mutation in intron 20 of the IKBKAP gene (c.2204+6T>C), leading to tissue-specific skipping of exon 20 and a decrease in the synthesis of the encoded protein IKAP (also known as ELP1). Small non-coding RNAs known as microRNAs (miRNAs) are important post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression and play an essential role in the nervous system development and function. To better understand the neuronal specificity of IKAP loss, we examined expression of miRNAs in human olfactory ecto-mesenchymal stem cells (hOE-MSCs) from five control individuals and five FD patients. We profiled the expression of 373 miRNAs using microfluidics and reverse transcription coupled to quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) on two biological replicate series of hOE-MSC cultures from healthy controls and FD patients. This led to the total identification of 26 dysregulated miRNAs in FD, validating the existence of a miRNA signature in FD. We then selected the nine most discriminant miRNAs for further analysis. The signaling pathways affected by these dysregulated miRNAs were largely within the nervous system. In addition, many targets of these dysregulated miRNAs had been previously demonstrated to be affected in FD models. Moreover, we found that four of our nine candidate miRNAs target the neuron-specific splicing factor NOVA1. We demonstrated that overexpression of miR-203a-3p leads to a decrease of NOVA1, counter-balanced by an increase of IKAP, supporting a potential interaction between NOVA1 and IKAP. Taken together, these results reinforce the choice of miRNAs as potential therapeutic targets and suggest that NOVA1 could be a regulator of FD pathophysiology.
Project description:Familial Dysautonomia (FD) is an autosomal recessive congenital neuropathy that results from a point mutation at the 5' splice site of intron 20 in the IKBKAP gene. This mutation decreases production of the IKAP protein, and treatments that increase the level of the full-length IKBKAP transcript are likely to be of therapeutic value. We previously found that phosphatidylserine (PS), an FDA-approved food supplement, elevates IKAP levels in cells generated from FD patients. Here we demonstrate that combined treatment of cells generated from FD patients with PS and kinetin or PS and the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) resulted in an additive elevation of IKAP compared to each drug alone. This indicates that the compounds influence different pathways. We also found that pridopidine enhances production of IKAP in cells generated from FD patients. Pridopidine has an additive effect on IKAP levels when used in combination with kinetin or TSA, but not with PS; suggesting that PS and pridopidine influence IKBKAP levels through the same mechanism. Indeed, we demonstrate that the effect of PS and pridopidine is through sigma-1 receptor-mediated activation of the BDNF signaling pathway. A combination treatment with any of these drugs with different mechanisms has potential to benefit FD patients.
Project description:Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a rare inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by a point mutation in the IKBKAP gene that results in defective splicing of its pre-mRNA. The mutation weakens the 5' splice site of exon 20, causing this exon to be skipped, thereby introducing a premature termination codon. Though detailed FD pathogenesis mechanisms are not yet clear, correcting the splicing defect in the relevant tissue(s), thus restoring normal expression levels of the full-length IKAP protein, could be therapeutic. Splice-switching antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) can be effective targeted therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases, such as nusinersen (Spinraza), an approved drug for spinal muscular atrophy. Using a two-step screen with ASOs targeting IKBKAP exon 20 or the adjoining intronic regions, we identified a lead ASO that fully restored exon 20 splicing in FD patient fibroblasts. We also characterized the corresponding cis-acting regulatory sequences that control exon 20 splicing. When administered into a transgenic FD mouse model, the lead ASO promoted expression of full-length human IKBKAP mRNA and IKAP protein levels in several tissues tested, including the central nervous system. These findings provide insights into the mechanisms of IKBKAP exon 20 recognition, and pre-clinical proof of concept for an ASO-based targeted therapy for FD.
Project description:Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a developmental neuropathy of the sensory and autonomous nervous systems. The IKBKAP gene, encoding the IKAP/hELP1 subunit of the RNA polymerase II Elongator complex is mutated in FD patients, leading to a tissue-specific mis-splicing of the gene and to the absence of the protein in neuronal tissues. To elucidate the function of IKAP/hELP1 in the development of neuronal cells, we have downregulated IKBKAP expression in SHSY5Y cells, a neuroblastoma cell line of a neural crest origin. We have previously shown that these cells exhibit abnormal cell adhesion when allowed to differentiate under defined culture conditions on laminin substratum. Here, we report results of a microarray expression analysis of IKAP/hELP1 downregulated cells that were grown on laminin under differentiation or non-differentiation growth conditions. It is shown that under non-differentiation growth conditions, IKAP/hELP1 downregulation affects genes important for early developmental stages of the nervous system, including cell signaling, cell adhesion and neural crest migration. IKAP/hELP1 downregulation during differentiation affects the expression of genes that play a role in late neuronal development, in axonal projection and synapse formation and function. We also show that IKAP/hELP1 deficiency affects the expression of genes involved in calcium metabolism before and after differentiation of the neuroblastoma cells. Hence, our data support IKAP/hELP1 importance in the development and function of neuronal cells and contribute to the understanding of the FD phenotype.
Project description:Familial Dysautonomia (FD) is an autosomal recessive congenital neuropathy that results from abnormal development and progressive degeneration of the sensory and autonomic nervous system. The mutation observed in almost all FD patients is a point mutation at position 6 of intron 20 of the IKBKAP gene; this gene encodes the I?B kinase complex-associated protein (IKAP). The mutation results in a tissue-specific splicing defect: Exon 20 is skipped, leading to reduced IKAP protein expression. Here we show that phosphatidylserine (PS), an FDA-approved food supplement, increased IKAP mRNA levels in cells derived from FD patients. Long-term treatment with PS led to a significant increase in IKAP protein levels in these cells. A conjugate of PS and an omega-3 fatty acid also increased IKAP mRNA levels. Furthermore, PS treatment released FD cells from cell cycle arrest and up-regulated a significant number of genes involved in cell cycle regulation. Our results suggest that PS has potential for use as a therapeutic agent for FD. Understanding its mechanism of action may reveal the mechanism underlying the FD disease.
Project description:Hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathies (HSANs) encompass a group of genetically inherited disorders characterized by sensory and autonomic dysfunctions. Familial dysautonomia (FD), also known as HSAN type III, is an autosomal recessive disorder that affects 1/3600 live births in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. The disease is caused by abnormal development and progressive degeneration of the sensory and autonomic nervous systems and is inevitably fatal, with only 50% of patients reaching the age of 40. FD is caused by a mutation in intron 20 of the Ikbkap gene that results in severe reduction in the expression of its encoded protein, inhibitor of kappaB kinase complex-associated protein (IKAP). Although the mutation that causes FD was identified in 2001, so far there is no appropriate animal model that recapitulates the disorder. Here, we report the generation and characterization of the first mouse models for FD that recapitulate the molecular and pathological features of the disease. Important for therapeutic interventions is also our finding that a slight increase in IKAP levels is enough to ameliorate the phenotype and increase the life span. Understanding the mechanisms underlying FD will provide insights for potential new therapeutic interventions not only for FD, but also for other peripheral neuropathies.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a hereditary neuropathy caused by mutations in the IKBKAP gene, the most common of which results in variable tissue-specific mRNA splicing with skipping of exon 20. Defective splicing is especially severe in nervous tissue, leading to incomplete development and progressive degeneration of sensory and autonomic neurons. The specificity of neuron loss in FD is poorly understood due to the lack of an appropriate model system. To better understand and modelize the molecular mechanisms of IKBKAP mRNA splicing, we collected human olfactory ecto-mesenchymal stem cells (hOE-MSC) from FD patients. hOE-MSCs have a pluripotent ability to differentiate into various cell lineages, including neurons and glial cells. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We confirmed IKBKAP mRNA alternative splicing in FD hOE-MSCs and identified 2 novel spliced isoforms also present in control cells. We observed a significant lower expression of both IKBKAP transcript and IKAP/hELP1 protein in FD cells resulting from the degradation of the transcript isoform skipping exon 20. We localized IKAP/hELP1 in different cell compartments, including the nucleus, which supports multiple roles for that protein. We also investigated cellular pathways altered in FD, at the genome-wide level, and confirmed that cell migration and cytoskeleton reorganization were among the processes altered in FD. Indeed, FD hOE-MSCs exhibit impaired migration compared to control cells. Moreover, we showed that kinetin improved exon 20 inclusion and restores a normal level of IKAP/hELP1 in FD hOE-MSCs. Furthermore, we were able to modify the IKBKAP splicing ratio in FD hOE-MSCs, increasing or reducing the WT (exon 20 inclusion):MU (exon 20 skipping) ratio respectively, either by producing free-floating spheres, or by inducing cells into neural differentiation. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: hOE-MSCs isolated from FD patients represent a new approach for modeling FD to better understand genetic expression and possible therapeutic approaches. This model could also be applied to other neurological genetic diseases.
Project description:Familial dysautonomia (FD) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by developmental arrest in the sensory and autonomic nervous systems and by Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. We previously had mapped the defective gene (DYS) to an 11-cM segment of chromosome 9q31-33, flanked by D9S53 and D9S105. By using 11 new polymorphic loci, we now have narrowed the location of DYS to <0.5 cM between the markers 43B1GAGT and 157A3. Two markers in this interval, 164D1 and D9S1677, show no recombination with the disease. Haplotype analysis confirmed this candidate region and revealed a major haplotype shared by 435 of 441 FD chromosomes, indicating a striking founder effect. Three other haplotypes, found on the remaining 6 FD chromosomes, might represent independent mutations. The frequency of the major FD haplotype in the Ashkenazim (5 in 324 control chromosomes) was consistent with the estimated DYS carrier frequency of 1 in 32, and none of the four haplotypes associated with FD was observed on 492 non-FD chromosomes from obligatory carriers. It is now possible to provide accurate genetic testing both for families with FD and for carriers, on the basis of close flanking markers and the capacity to identify >98% of FD chromosomes by their haplotype.
Project description:Familial dysautonomia (FD; also known as "Riley-Day syndrome"), an Ashkenazi Jewish disorder, is the best known and most frequent of a group of congenital sensory neuropathies and is characterized by widespread sensory and variable autonomic dysfunction. Previously, we had mapped the FD gene, DYS, to a 0.5-cM region on chromosome 9q31 and had shown that the ethnic bias is due to a founder effect, with >99.5% of disease alleles sharing a common ancestral haplotype. To investigate the molecular basis of FD, we sequenced the minimal candidate region and cloned and characterized its five genes. One of these, IKBKAP, harbors two mutations that can cause FD. The major haplotype mutation is located in the donor splice site of intron 20. This mutation can result in skipping of exon 20 in the mRNA of patients with FD, although they continue to express varying levels of wild-type message in a tissue-specific manner. RNA isolated from lymphoblasts of patients is primarily wild-type, whereas only the deleted message is seen in RNA isolated from brain. The mutation associated with the minor haplotype in four patients is a missense (R696P) mutation in exon 19, which is predicted to disrupt a potential phosphorylation site. Our findings indicate that almost all cases of FD are caused by an unusual splice defect that displays tissue-specific expression; and they also provide the basis for rapid carrier screening in the Ashkenazi Jewish population.
Project description:The splice site mutation in the IKBKAP gene coding for IKAP protein leads to the tissue-specific skipping of exon 20, with concomitant reduction in IKAP protein production. This causes the neurodevelopmental, autosomal-recessive genetic disorder - Familial Dysautonomia (FD). The molecular hallmark of FD is the severe reduction of IKAP protein in the nervous system that is believed to be the main reason for the devastating symptoms of this disease. Our recent studies showed that in the brain of two FD patients, genes linked to oligodendrocyte differentiation and/or myelin formation are significantly downregulated, implicating IKAP in the process of myelination. However, due to the scarcity of FD patient tissues, these results awaited further validation in other models. Recently, two FD mouse models that faithfully recapitulate FD were generated, with two types of mutations resulting in severely low levels of IKAP expression. Here we demonstrate that IKAP deficiency in these FD mouse models affects a similar set of genes as in FD patients' brains. In addition, we identified two new IKAP target genes involved in oligodendrocyte cells differentiation and myelination, further underscoring the essential role of IKAP in this process. We also provide proof that IKAP expression is needed cell-autonomously for the regulation of expression of genes involved in myelin formation since knockdown of IKAP in the Oli-neu oligodendrocyte precursor cell line results in similar deficiencies. Further analyses of these two experimental models will compensate for the lack of human postmortem tissues and will advance our understanding of the role of IKAP in myelination and the disease pathology.