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Genes Cells. 2011 Jun;16(6):692-703. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2443.2011.01522.x. Epub 2011 May 10.

Central nervous system-specific deletion of transcription factor Nrf1 causes progressive motor neuronal dysfunction.

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1
Department of Genetic Cord, Graduate School of Life and Medical Sciences, Doshisha University, 1-3 Miyakodani, Tatara, Kyotanabe 610-0394, Japan. akobayas@mail.doshisha.ac.jp

Abstract

Cap'n'Collar (CNC) proteins heterodimerize with small Maf proteins and regulate the transcription of various genes. Small Maf-deficient mice develop severe neurodegeneration, and it remains unclear whether CNC proteins are involved in this process. In this study, we examined the contribution of Nrf1, one of the CNC proteins, to neuronal homeostasis in vivo. As Nrf1 gene knockout mice are embryonic lethal, we developed a central nervous system (CNS)-specific Nrf1 knockout (CKO) mouse line using mice bearing an Nrf1(flox) allele and Nestin-Cre allele. At birth, the CKO mice appeared indistinguishable from control mice, but thereafter they showed progressive motor ataxia and severe weight loss. All Nrf1 CKO mice died within 3 weeks. These phenotypes are similar to those reported in small Maf-deficient mice, suggesting the presence of collaboration between Nrf1 and small Maf proteins. We also found aberrant accumulation of polyubiquitinated proteins in various CNS regions and apparent neuronal loss in the hippocampus of Nrf1 CKO mice. An oxidative stress marker was accumulated in the spinal cords of the mice, but the expression patterns of oxidative stress response genes regulated by Nrf2 did not change substantially. These results show that Nrf1 sustains the CNS homeostasis through regulating target genes distinct from those regulated by Nrf2.

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