RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Deficiency of the housekeeping gene hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) dysregulates neurogenesis.

Molecular Therapy 2010 January
Neuronal transcription factors play vital roles in the specification and development of neurons, including dopaminergic (DA) neurons. Mutations in the gene encoding the purine biosynthetic enzyme hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) cause the resulting intractable and largely untreatable neurological impairment of Lesch-Nyhan disease (LND). The disorder is associated with a defect in basal ganglia DA pathways. The mechanisms connecting the purine metabolic defect and the central nervous system (CNS) phenotype are poorly understood but have been presumed to reflect a developmental defect of DA neurons. We have examined the effect of HPRT deficiency on the differentiation of neurons in the well-established human (NT2) embryonic carcinoma neurogenesis model. We have used a retrovirus expressing a small hairpin RNA (shRNA) to knock down HPRT gene expression and have examined the expression of a number of transcription factors essential for neuronal differentiation and marker genes involved in DA biosynthetic pathway. HPRT-deficient NT2 cells demonstrate aberrant expression of several transcription factors and DA markers. Although differentiated HPRT-deficient neurons also demonstrate a striking deficit in neurite outgrowth during differentiation, resulting neurons demonstrate wild-type electrophysiological properties. These results represent direct experimental evidence for aberrant neurogenesis in HPRT deficiency and suggest developmental roles for other housekeeping genes in neurodevelopmental disease.

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