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Neurobiol Dis. 2012 Aug;47(2):201-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2012.04.001. Epub 2012 Apr 11.

Cerebellar abnormalities in purine nucleoside phosphorylase deficient mice.

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  • 1Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Inherited defects in purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP) cause severe T cell immunodeficiency and progressive neurological dysfunction, yet little is known about the effects of PNP deficiency on the brain. PNP-KO mice display metabolic and immune anomalies similar to those observed in patients. Our objectives were to characterize brain abnormalities in PNP-KO mice and determine whether restoring PNP activity prevents these abnormalities. We analyzed structural brain defects in PNP-KO mice by magnetic resonance imaging, while assessing motor deficits using the accelerating rotarod and stationary balance beam tests. We detected morphological abnormalities and apoptosis in the cerebellum of PNP-KO mice by hematoxylin and eosin, electron microscopy, TUNEL and activated caspase 3 staining. We treated PNP-KO mice with PNP fused to the HIV-TAT protein transduction domain (TAT-PNP) from birth or from 4 weeks of age. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a smaller than normal cerebellum in PNP-KO mice. PNP-KO mice displayed motor abnormalities including rapid fall from the rotating rod and frequent slips from the balance beam. The cerebellum of PNP-KO mice contained reduced purkinje cells (PC), which were irregular in shape and had degenerated dendrites. PC from the cerebellum of PNP-KO mice, expanded ex vivo, demonstrated increased apoptosis, which could be corrected by supplementing cultures with TAT-PNP. TAT-PNP injections restored PNP activity in the cerebellum of PNP-KO mice. TAT-PNP from birth, but not treatment initiated at 4 weeks of age, prevented the cerebellar PC damage and motor deficits. We conclude that PNP deficiency cause cerebellar abnormalities, including PC damage and progressive motor deficits. TAT-PNP treatment from birth can prevent the neurological abnormalities in PNP-KO mice.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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