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Mol Cell Neurosci. 1995 Aug;6(4):349-62.

Age-dependent penetrance of disease in a transgenic mouse model of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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  • 1Division of Neurosciences, Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, Duarte, California 91010, USA.


The mutation gly93-->ala of Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD) is found in patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and causes motor neuron disease when expressed in transgenic mice. The progression of clinical and pathological disease was studied in a line of mice designated G1H. Clinical disease started at 91 +/- 14 days of age with fine shaking of the limbs, followed by paralysis and death by 136 +/- 7 days of age. Pathological changes begin by 37 days of age with vacuoles derived from swollen mitochondria accumulating in motor neurons. At the onset of clinical disease (90 days), significant death of somatic motor neurons innervating limb muscles has occurred; mice at end-stage disease (136 days) show up to 50% loss of cervical and lumbar motor neurons. However, neither thoracic nor cranial motor neurons show appreciable loss despite vacuolar changes. Autonomic motor neurons also are not affected. Mice that express wild-type human Cu,Zn SOD remain free of disease, indicating that mutations cause neuron loss by a gain-of-function. Thus, the age-dependent penetrance of motor neuron disease in this transgenic model is due to the gradual accumulation of pathological damage in select populations of cholinergic neurons.

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