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Title: Two newly defined inherited disorders due to cholinergic transporter dysfunction with distinct clinical outcomes, disease mechanisms and modes of inheritance
Author: Barwick, Katy Elizabeth Sara
ISNI:       0000 0004 5989 0597
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2016
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Neurodegenerative diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent due to the ageing population, and are among the major contributors to disability and disease worldwide. The identification of the gene defects responsible for many of these conditions has played a major role in our understanding of the pathogenic processes involved, and provided opportunity to develop targeted treatment strategies. Cholinergic neurotransmission supports a wide range of physiological and behavioural processes and its dysfunction of cholinergic signalling has been associated with a number of disorders, including myasthenias, cardiovascular disease(1), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (2), Alzheimer’s disease (ADi), schizophrenia, addiction(3), and depression(4). SLC5A7 encodes the Na+/Cl- dependent, high-affinity choline transporter (CHT) which represents the rate limiting step in acetylcholine (Ach) synthesis and is critical for normal cholinergic signalling. The work in this thesis details two new inherited disorders, caused by distinct pathogenic disease mechanisms, associated with novel SLC5A7 mutations. Chapter three documents the discovery of two autosomal-dominantly acting SLC5A7/CHT mutations associated with adult onset motor neurone disorders. Initially we identified a frameshift mutation that results in premature truncation of the transporter protein in a large Welsh kindred affected with distal hereditary motor neuropathy type VII (dHMN-VII), in which neurodegeneration and muscle paresis is largely restricted to the distal limb muscles and vocal cords. The mutation responsible results in the dominant-negative interference of the mutant molecule with function of the wild type choline transporter, resulting in significantly reduced (although not completely abolished) transporter activity. This finding is further evidenced by the discovery of a second dHMN family associated with a distinct frameshift SLC5A7 mutation indicative of a similar dominant-negative disease mechanism. Together these findings corroborate a dominant-negative disease mechanism arising from C-terminal truncating SLC5A7 mutations associated with dHMN, and provide further insight into the role of aberrant choline transporter function in neurological disease. Chapter four describes N-terminal missense mutations located in the transmembrane spanning region of SLC5A7/CHT, associated with a severe infantile neuromuscular disorder characterised by predominantly central hypotonia and developmental delay. The phenotypic effects of these mutations are likely to result from the near abolition of CHT-mediated choline transport in homozygous individuals, and are in keeping with those observed in CHT knock-out mouse models(5). The development of a mouse model of the human motor neurone disease arising from SLC5A7 frameshift mutations should allow for further investigation of the mechanism by which truncated CHT leads to the dHMN phenotype. Chapter 5 details treatment hypotheses for dHMN, as well as the generation of a patient-specific knock-in mouse model carrying an Slc5a7 mutation orthologous to that identified in dHMN-VII families in chapter 3, and results from preliminary neurological phenotyping of the mouse model. This model will be crucially important for the exploration of treatment options in dHMN-VII motor neurone disease as a prelude to clinical trials in humans.
Supervisor: Crosby, Andrew Harry ; Harries, Lorna Sponsor: Neurosciences Research Foundation ; John McDowall Bursary
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: High affinity choline transporter ; CHT ; Distal hereditary motor neuropathy type 7 ; dHMN-VII ; Distal hereditary motor neuropathy type 5 ; dHMN-V ; Hypotonia ; Mouse model ; Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease ; SLC5A7