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Title: Characterisation of a novel mouse model of mitochondrial disease : a hypomorphic Wars2 ENU-induced allele
Author: Agnew, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 6493 7804
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Mitochondrial aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (mtRS) are vital for mitochondrial translation. mtRSs catalyse the aminoacylation of mitochondrial tRNA with their cognate amino acid. Mutations in mtRS genes are associated with distinct clinical pathologies in humans. Studying mtRS mutations in model organisms is difficult because mtRS knock-out alleles are haplosufficient and cause embryonic lethality in their homozygous state. In this study, we phenotypically and mechanistically characterised a hypomorphic, ENU-induced Wars2 allele (Wars2-V117L) in mouse with the aim to determine the cause of the tissue-specific penetrance of mtRS mutant alleles. The Wars2-V117L allele caused tissue-specific pathology in mice. Wars2V117L/V117L mice developed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, sensorineural hearing loss, reduced adiposity, increased glucose tolerance and systemic changes in metabolism. Furthermore, we showed that the Wars2V117L/V117L allele causes abnormal adipose tissue pathology as shown by 'browning' of WAT depots and lipid accumulation in BAT in Wars2V117L/V117Lmice. The Wars2V117L/V117L allele disrupts Wars2 mRNA splicing, resulting in reduced full-length Wars2 (Wars2-FL) mRNA in Wars2V117L/V117L tissues and cells. Reduced Wars2-FL mRNA caused tissue-specific reductions in mt-TrpRS protein and mitochondrial OXPHOS deficiencies in Wars2V117L/V117L mice in vivo. OXPHOS deficiencies lead to activation of the Integrated Stress Response (ISR) in Wars2V117L/V117L heart and liver. Activation of the ISR in Wars2V117L/V117L heart caused up-regulation of Fgf21 mRNA and increased plasma FGF21, leading to systemic changes in metabolism. Finally, we showed that up-regulation of Pgc1a and mitochondrial biogenesis prevented inhibition of mitochondrial translation in Wars2V117L/V117L skeletal muscle and mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Overall, we have characterised the first mouse model of mitochondrial disease caused by a global, hypomorphic, mutation in an mtRS gene. We showed that the tissue-specific pathology observed in Wars2V117L/V117L mice was due to activation of tissue-specific stress response mechanisms that either lead to disease pathology, such as activation of the ISR in the heart, or protection against inhibition of mitochondrial translation, such as up-regulation of Pgc1a in iWAT and MEFs. This study provides some evidence that up-regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis could be utilised as a therapeutic strategy to treat human patients with mtRS mutations in the future.
Supervisor: Pears, Catherine ; Cox, Roger Sponsor: Medical Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available