Reduced levels of survival motor neuron protein leads to aberrant motoneuron growth in a Xenopus model of muscular atrophy
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- Ymlahi-Ouazzani, Q., J. Bronchain, O., Paillard, E. et al. Neurogenetics (2010) 11: 27. doi:10.1007/s10048-009-0200-6
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Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by motor neuron loss and skeletal muscle atrophy. The loss of function of the smn1 gene, the main supplier of survival motor neuron protein (SMN) protein in human, leads to reduced levels of SMN and eventually to SMA. Here, we ask if the amphibian Xenopus tropicalis can be a good model system to study SMA. Inhibition of the production of SMN using antisense morpholinos leads to caudal muscular atrophy in tadpoles. Of note, early developmental patterning of muscles and motor neurons is unaffected in this system as well as acetylcholine receptors clustering. Muscular atrophy seems to rather result from aberrant pathfinding and growth arrest and/or shortening of motor axons. This event occurs in the absence of neuronal cell bodies apoptosis, a process comparable to that of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Xenopus tropicalis is revealed as a complementary animal model for the study of SMA.
KeywordsSpinal muscular atrophy Xenopus tropicalis Survival motor neuron SMN SMA
smn loss of function induces a paralysis in X. tropicalis tadpoles. (MOV 3292 kb)