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Title: Friedreich ataxia : investigating the relationships between mismatch repair gene expression, FXN gene expression and GAA repeat instability in human and mouse cells and tissues
Author: Ezzatizadeh, Vahid
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 9864
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2012
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Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is the most common inherited ataxia disorder, caused by a GAA repeat expansion mutation within the first intron of the FXN gene. The subsequent deficiency of frataxin protein leads to neurological disability, increased risk of diabetes mellitus, cardiomyopathy and premature death. The exact FRDA disease mechanism is not yet clear, despite some understanding of epigenetic, transcriptional and DNA repair system effects that lead to frataxin reduction. Previous studies have shown that mismatch repair (MMR) genes can affect other trinucleotide repeat disorders by destabilisation of the repeats. Furthermore, it has been proposed that frataxin deficiency might lead to cell malignancy by an as yet undefined mode of action. Therefore, the principle aim of this thesis was to use human and genetically altered mouse cells and tissues to understand the effects of MMR proteins on GAA repeat instability and FXN transcription, and also to identify potential changes in MMR transcription that might cause malignancy in FXN-defective human cells. Firstly, by using FXN and MMR genetically altered mice, MMR proteins were shown to be involved in both intergenerational and somatic GAA repeat instability, although their effects in the two systems were different. Thus, Msh2 or Msh3 were both found to protect against intergenerational transmission of GAA contractions, while loss of Msh2 or Msh3 reduced somatic GAA repeat expansions and increased levels of FXN transcription in brain and cerebellum tissues. Loss of Msh6 induced both intergenerational GAA repeat expansions and contractions, while the frequency of somatic GAA repeat expansions was reduced. Curiously, the level of FXN transcription was also reduced in Msh6-deficient brain and cerebellum tissues. On the other hand, Pms2 was found to protect against both intergenerational and somatic GAA repeat expansions, with loss of Pms2 causing increased GAA repeat expansions and decreased levels of FXN transcription in brain and cerebellum tissues. Finally, loss of Mlh1 led to a reduced frequency of both intergenerational and somatic GAA repeat expansions, but the level of FXN transcription was also reduced in brain and cerebellum tissues. Furthermore, upregulation of MMR mRNA expression was detected in human FRDA fibroblast cells, but downregulation was seen in FRDA cerebellum tissues, suggesting tissue-dependent control of FXN and MMR expression. In summary, these studies indicate that the MMR system can affect GAA repeat expansion instability and FXN transcription through different mechanisms of action. Furthermore, frataxin deficiency can also affect the levels of MMR mRNA expression in a tissue-dependent manner. These findings will assist future investigations aimed at identifying novel FRDA therapies.
Supervisor: Pook, M.; Rand-Weaver, M. Sponsor: Ataxia UK ; GoFAR (Italy) ; FARA (USA) ; NIH
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ataxia ; Microsatellite ; DNA repair ; mRNA ; Transgenic