Correlation of clinical and molecular features in spinal bulbar muscular atrophy.
ABSTRACT: To characterize the clinical and genetic features of spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), a rare neurodegenerative disorder caused by the expansion of a CAG repeat in the first exon of the androgen receptor gene, in the United Kingdom.We created a national register for SBMA in the United Kingdom and recruited 61 patients between 2005 and 2013. In our cross-sectional study, we assessed, by direct questioning, impairment of activities of daily living (ADL) milestones, functional rating, and subjective disease impact, and performed correlations with both CAG repeat size and degree of somatic mosaicism. Ten patients were deceased, 46 patients participated in the study, and 5 declined.Subjects had an average age at onset of 43.4 years, and weakness onset most frequently occurred in the lower limbs (87%). Impaired mobility was the most frequently reported problem by patients, followed by bulbar dysfunction. Age distribution of the impairment of ADL milestones showed remarkable overlap with a Japanese study. We have identified a significant correlation between the number of CAG repeats and both age at onset and ADL milestones. Somatic mosaicism also showed a correlation with CAG expansion size and age at onset.Clinical features in SBMA show a substantial overlap when comparing populations with different genetic backgrounds. This finding has major implications, because multicenter trials will be necessary to obtain sufficient power in future clinical trials. Clinical-genetic correlations are strong in SBMA and should inform any clinical research strategy in this condition.
Project description:The factors influencing the tissue-specific pattern of somatic mosaicism in CAG-repeat diseases have not yet been fully resolved. We performed a detailed analysis of the degree of somatic mosaicism in various tissues from 20 patients with spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), including 4 who were deceased. The most outstanding feature was the prominent somatic mosaicism observed in the cardiac and skeletal muscles, composed predominantly of postmitotic cells, and in the skin, prostate, and testis. The CNS tissues, liver, and spleen showed the least mosaicism. The tissue distribution of somatic mosaicism in patients with SBMA was markedly different from that in patients with Huntington disease (HD) and from that in patients with dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA). The degree of somatic mosaicism correlated with the CAG-repeat number but not with age at examination. Furthermore, tissues with a higher mosaicism level corresponded well to those with a higher expression level of androgen receptor protein. The tissue-specific pattern of somatic mosaicism related not only to cell composition with different cell turnover rates but to repeat size and gene expression levels, and postnatal cell division is unlikely to be a major cause of somatic mosaicism probably because of the relative stability of CAG repeat in SBMA.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is an X-linked recessive motor neuron disease characterized by slowly progressive weakness and atrophy of proximal limbs and bulbar muscles. To assess the genotype-phenotype correlation in Chinese patients, we identified 155 patients with SBMA and retrospectively examined available data from laboratory tests and neurophysiological analyses. Correlations between genotype and phenotype were analyzed. There was an inverse correlation between the length of CAG repeats and age at first muscle weakness (p<0.0001). The serum creatine kinase level showed a significant inverse correlation with disease duration and the age at examination (p=0.019 and p=0.004, respectively). Unlike previous classification of motor- and sensory-dominant phenotypes, all findings of nerve conduction, except the amplitudes of median nerve compound motor action potential, were positively correlated to the length of CAG repeats. A significant decline in sensory nerve action potential amplitudes may assist differential diagnosis of SBMA.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), also known as Kennedy's Disease, is a late-onset X-linked progressive neuromuscular disease, which predominantly affects males. The pathological hallmarks of the disease are selective loss of spinal and bulbar motor neurons, accompanied by weakness, atrophy and fasciculations of bulbar and limb muscles. SBMA is caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the gene that encodes the androgen receptor (AR) protein. Disease manifestation is androgen dependent and results principally from a toxic gain of AR function. There are currently no effective treatments for this debilitating disease. It is important to understand the course of the disease in order to target therapeutics to key pathological stages. This is especially relevant in disorders such as SBMA, for which disease can be identified before symptom onset, through family history and genetic testing. To fully characterise the role of muscle in SBMA, we undertook a longitudinal physiological and histological characterisation of disease progression in the AR100 mouse model of SBMA. Our results show that the disease first manifests in skeletal muscle, before any motor neuron degeneration, which only occurs in late-stage disease. These findings reveal that alterations in muscle function, including reduced muscle force and changes in contractile characteristics, are early pathological events in SBMA mice and suggest that muscle-targeted therapeutics may be effective in SBMA.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a neuromuscular disease caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the androgen receptor (AR) gene. Here, we perform a comprehensive analysis of signaling pathways in a mouse model of SBMA (AR-97Q mice) utilizing a phosphoprotein assay. We measure the levels of 17 phosphorylated proteins in spinal cord and skeletal muscle of AR-97Q mice at three stages. The level of phosphorylated Src (p-Src) is markedly increased in the spinal cords and skeletal muscles of AR-97Q mice prior to the onset. Intraperitoneal administration of a Src kinase inhibitor improves the behavioral and histopathological phenotypes of the transgenic mice. We identify p130Cas as an effector molecule of Src and show that the phosphorylated p130Cas is elevated in murine and cellular models of SBMA. These results suggest that Src kinase inhibition is a potential therapy for SBMA.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), also known as Kennedy’s Disease, is a slowly progressive adult-onset neuromuscular disease which results from a polyglutamine (polyQ) encoding CAG repeat expansion within the androgen receptor gene (AR). Despite the ubiquitous expression of the androgen receptor, it is unclear why motor neurons selectively degenerate and there are no effective treatments or disease modifying therapies for this debilitating disease. In order to identify potential therapeutic targets, we set out to establish the genes and molecular pathways involved in early motor neuron dysfunction in SBMA. We therefore undertook global transcriptomic profiling of cultured primary embryonic motor neurons from the spinal cord of AR100 mice, which model SBMA.. Four biological replicate samples were used for genome wide analysis using Affymetrix 430 v2.0 mouse arrays. Data was normalised using therobust multichip average (RMA) algorithm.
Project description:X-linked spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is characterized by adult-onset muscle weakness and lower motor neuron degeneration. SBMA is caused by CAG-polyglutamine (polyQ) repeat expansions in the androgen receptor (AR) gene. Pathological findings include motor neuron loss, with polyQ-AR accumulation in intranuclear inclusions. SBMA patients exhibit myopathic features, suggesting a role for muscle in disease pathogenesis. To determine the contribution of muscle, we developed a BAC mouse model featuring a floxed first exon to permit cell-type-specific excision of human AR121Q. BAC fxAR121 mice develop systemic and neuromuscular phenotypes, including shortened survival. After validating termination of AR121 expression and full rescue with ubiquitous Cre, we crossed BAC fxAR121 mice with Human Skeletal Actin-Cre mice. Muscle-specific excision prevented weight loss, motor phenotypes, muscle pathology, and motor neuronopathy and dramatically extended survival. Our results reveal a crucial role for muscle expression of polyQ-AR in SBMA and suggest muscle-directed therapies as effective treatments.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) results from a CAG repeat expansion within the androgen receptor gene (AR). It is unclear why motor neurons selectively degenerate and there are currently no treatments for this debilitating disease. To uncover the causative genes and pathways involved in motor neuron dysfunction, we undertook transcriptomic profiling of primary embryonic motor neurons from SBMA mice. We show that transcriptional dysregulation occurs early during development in SBMA motor neurons. One gene found to be dysregulated, Chmp7, was also altered in vivo in spinal cord before symptom onset in SBMA mice, and crucially in motor neuron precursor cells derived from SBMA patient stem cells, suggesting that Chmp7 may play a causal role in disease pathogenesis by disrupting the endosome-lysosome system. Furthermore, genes were enriched in SBMA motor neurons in several key pathways including p53, DNA repair, WNT and mitochondrial function. SBMA embryonic motor neurons also displayed dysfunctional mitochondria along with DNA damage, possibly resulting from DNA repair gene dysregulation and/or mitochondrial dysfunction. This indicates that a coordinated dysregulation of multiple pathways leads to development of SBMA. Importantly, our findings suggest that the identified pathways and genes, in particular Chmp7, may serve as potential therapeutic targets in SBMA.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is an adult-onset motor neuron disease caused by the expansion of a trinucleotide CAG repeat encoding the polyglutamine tract in the first exon of the androgen receptor gene (AR). The pathogenic, polyglutamine-expanded AR protein accumulates in the cell nucleus in a ligand-dependent manner and inhibits transcription by interfering with transcriptional factors and coactivators. Heat-shock proteins (HSPs) are stress-induced chaperones that facilitate the refolding and, thus, the degradation of abnormal proteins. Geranylgeranylacetone (GGA), a nontoxic antiulcer drug, has been shown to potently induce HSP expression in various tissues, including the central nervous system. In a cell model of SBMA, GGA increased the levels of Hsp70, Hsp90, and Hsp105 and inhibited cell death and the accumulation of pathogenic AR. Oral administration of GGA also up-regulated the expression of HSPs in the central nervous system of SBMA-transgenic mice and suppressed nuclear accumulation of the pathogenic AR protein, resulting in amelioration of polyglutamine-dependent neuromuscular phenotypes. These observations suggest that, although a high dose appears to be needed for clinical effects, oral GGA administration is a safe and promising therapeutic candidate for polyglutamine-mediated neurodegenerative diseases, including SBMA.
Project description:Trinucleotide repeat disorders are a heterogeneous group of diseases caused by the expansion, beyond a pathogenic threshold, of unstable DNA tracts in different genes. Sequence interruptions in the repeats have been described in the majority of these disorders and may influence disease phenotype and heritability. Spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a motor neuron disease caused by a CAG trinucleotide expansion in the androgen receptor (AR) gene. Diagnostic testing and previous research have relied on fragment analysis polymerase chain reaction to determine the AR CAG repeat size, and have therefore not been able to assess the presence of interruptions. We here report a sequencing study of the AR CAG repeat in a cohort of SBMA patients and control subjects in the United Kingdom. We found no repeat interruptions to be present, and we describe differences between sequencing and traditional sizing methods.
Project description:Spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is an adult-onset, slowly progressive motor neuron disease caused by abnormal CAG repeat expansion in the androgen receptor (AR) gene. Although ligand (testosterone)-dependent mutant AR aggregation has been shown to play important roles in motor neuronal degeneration by the analyses of transgenic mice models and in vitro cell culture models, the underlying disease mechanisms remain to be fully elucidated because of the discrepancy between model mice and SBMA patients. Thus, novel human disease models that recapitulate SBMA patients' pathology more accurately are required for more precise pathophysiological analysis and the development of novel therapeutics. Here, we established disease specific iPSCs from four SBMA patients, and differentiated them into spinal motor neurons. To investigate motor neuron specific pathology, we purified iPSC-derived motor neurons using flow cytometry and cell sorting based on the motor neuron specific reporter, HB9e438::Venus, and proceeded to the genome-wide transcriptome analysis by RNA sequences. The results revealed the involvement of the pathology associated with synapses, epigenetics, and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in SBMA. Notably, we demonstrated the involvement of the neuromuscular synapse via significant upregulation of Synaptotagmin, R-Spondin2 (RSPO2), and WNT ligands in motor neurons derived from SBMA patients, which are known to be associated with neuromuscular junction (NMJ) formation and acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clustering. These aberrant gene expression in neuromuscular synapses might represent a novel therapeutic target for SBMA.