RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Specific correction of a splice defect in brain by nutritional supplementation.

Human Molecular Genetics 2011 November 2
Recent studies emphasize the importance of mRNA splicing in human genetic disease, as 20-30% of all disease-causing mutations are predicted to result in mRNA splicing defects. The plasticity of the mRNA splicing reaction has made these mutations attractive candidates for the development of therapeutics. Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a severe neurodegenerative disorder, and all patients have an intronic IVS20+6T>C splice site mutation in the IKBKAP gene, which results in tissue-specific skipping of exon 20 and a corresponding reduction in ikappaB kinase complex associated protein (IKAP) levels. We created transgenic mouse lines using a human IKBKAP bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) into which we inserted the IKBKAP splice mutation (FD BAC) and have shown that the transgenic mice exhibit the same tissue-specific aberrant splicing patterns as seen in FD patients. We have previously demonstrated that the plant cytokinin kinetin can significantly improve the production of wild-type IKBKAP transcripts in FD lymphoblast cell lines by improving exon inclusion. In this study, we tested the ability of kinetin to alter IKBKAP splicing in the transgenic mice carrying the FD BAC and show that it corrects IKBKAP splicing in all major tissues assayed, including the brain. The amount of wild-type IKBKAP mRNA and IKAP protein was significantly higher in the kinetin-treated mice. These exciting results prove that treatment of FD, as well as other mechanistically related splicing disorders, with kinetin holds great promise as a potential therapeutic aimed at increasing normal protein levels, which may, in turn, slow disease progression.

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