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PLoS One. 2011 Apr 29;6(4):e19147. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019147.

Effects of IKAP/hELP1 deficiency on gene expression in differentiating neuroblastoma cells: implications for familial dysautonomia.

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  • 1Department of Cell Research and Immunology, Tel Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv, Israel.


Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a developmental neuropathy of the sensory and autonomous nervous systems. The IKBKAP gene, encoding the IKAP/hELP1 subunit of the RNA polymerase II Elongator complex is mutated in FD patients, leading to a tissue-specific mis-splicing of the gene and to the absence of the protein in neuronal tissues. To elucidate the function of IKAP/hELP1 in the development of neuronal cells, we have downregulated IKBKAP expression in SHSY5Y cells, a neuroblastoma cell line of a neural crest origin. We have previously shown that these cells exhibit abnormal cell adhesion when allowed to differentiate under defined culture conditions on laminin substratum. Here, we report results of a microarray expression analysis of IKAP/hELP1 downregulated cells that were grown on laminin under differentiation or non-differentiation growth conditions. It is shown that under non-differentiation growth conditions, IKAP/hELP1 downregulation affects genes important for early developmental stages of the nervous system, including cell signaling, cell adhesion and neural crest migration. IKAP/hELP1 downregulation during differentiation affects the expression of genes that play a role in late neuronal development, in axonal projection and synapse formation and function. We also show that IKAP/hELP1 deficiency affects the expression of genes involved in calcium metabolism before and after differentiation of the neuroblastoma cells. Hence, our data support IKAP/hELP1 importance in the development and function of neuronal cells and contribute to the understanding of the FD phenotype.

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