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Title: Understanding the pathogenesis of spinal muscular atrophy by determining the role of survival motor neuron protein in early development
Author: Szunyogová, Eva
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 687X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2017
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Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is caused by mutation or deletion of the Survival Motor Neuron 1 (SMN1), which encodes cell-ubiquitous SMN protein. Although classified as a neuromuscular disease, a range of systemic pathologies is reported in SMA patients. Despite a clear understanding of the genetics, the role of SMN protein in SMA pathogenesis is somewhat unclear, especially in tissues outside the CNS. Here, we describe failed liver development in response to reduced SMN levels, in a Taiwanese mouse model of severe SMA. Molecular analysis revealed significant changes in proteins involved in cell cycling and blood homeostasis including coagulation prior to motor neuron pathology. With SMN being directly associated with some of these proteins, this indicates primary liver pathology in SMA. Study of livers obtained from two other mouse models of SMA; severe SMNΔ7 and intermediate 2B, which have slightly higher SMN levels than Taiwanese SMA mice, also revealed significant overlapping pathologies, suggestive of high intrinsic susceptibility of the liver to SMN decrease. Proteomic study of pre-symptomatic 2B/- liver revealed significant perturbations in mitochondrial bioenergetics, which could account for metabolic defects in SMA patients. Vascular changes can be observed in mouse models of SMA and even skeletal muscle of severe SMA patients. Although Taiwanese SMA liver showed no morphological changes to its vasculature, it does have impairments in several key vascular signaling molecules, including VEGF and Tie-2. Furthermore, we report for the first time significant vascular changes in a zebrafish model of SMA, that could be associated with defective neuronal-vascular signaling and is supported by preliminary findings in the Taiwanese SMA retina. This thesis uncovers perturbations in several clinically relevant signalling pathways directly linked to SMN decrease, independent of the motor neurone pathology. Taken together this work emphasises the importance of a systemic therapy in SMA.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Spinal muscular atrophy ; Motor neurons ; Mitochondrial pathology ; Blood coagulation disorders ; Hematopoiesis