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Mol Genet Metab. 2007 Feb;90(2):148-56. Epub 2006 Oct 31.

Generation of a conditional knockout of murine glucocerebrosidase: utility for the study of Gaucher disease.

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Child and Family Research Institute, Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, 950 W28th Ave. Vancouver, BC, Canada V5Z 4H4.


Gaucher disease is a disorder of sphingolipid metabolism resulting from an inherited deficiency of the lysosomal hydrolase glucocerebrosidase. Affected individuals present with a spectrum of clinical symptoms ranging from hepatosplenomegaly, haematological abnormalities, and bone pain in type 1 disease, to severe neurodegeneration and premature death in types 2 and 3 disease. Although the basic biochemical defect is well characterized, there remains a poor understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of disease. In vitro studies suggest that macrophage glucocerebroside storage leads to tissue dysfunction through complex mechanisms involving altered intracellular calcium homeostasis and apoptosis. In order to study the pathogenic roles of these complex interactions, a viable animal model for Gaucher disease is needed. The complexity of this single gene disorder has been emphasized by the varied results of previous murine Gaucher models, ranging from perinatal lethality to phenotypically and biochemically asymptomatic animals. Recognizing the need to modulate the biochemical phenotype in mice to produce a relevant model, we have created a murine strain with key exons of the glucocerebrosidase gene flanked by loxP sites. We show that expression of Cre-recombinase in cells of hematopoietic and endothelial origin results in deficiency of glucocerebrosidase in the liver, spleen, bone marrow, and peripheral white cells. Glucocerebroside storage in this model leads to progressive splenomegaly with Gaucher cell infiltration and modest storage in the liver by 26 weeks of age. These results indicate the utility of this loxP GBA targeted murine strain for understanding the complex pathophysiology of Gaucher disease.

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