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PLoS Genet. 2012;8(6):e1002759. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002759. Epub 2012 Jun 14.

A SEL1L mutation links a canine progressive early-onset cerebellar ataxia to the endoplasmic reticulum-associated protein degradation (ERAD) machinery.

Author information

1
Department of Medical Genetics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Abstract

Inherited ataxias are characterized by degeneration of the cerebellar structures, which results in progressive motor incoordination. Hereditary ataxias occur in many species, including humans and dogs. Several mutations have been found in humans, but the genetic background has remained elusive in dogs. The Finnish Hound suffers from an early-onset progressive cerebellar ataxia. We have performed clinical, pathological, and genetic studies to describe the disease phenotype and to identify its genetic cause. Neurological examinations on ten affected dogs revealed rapidly progressing generalized cerebellar ataxia, tremors, and failure to thrive. Clinical signs were present by the age of 3 months, and cerebellar shrinkage was detectable through MRI. Pathological and histological examinations indicated cerebellum-restricted neurodegeneration. Marked loss of Purkinje cells was detected in the cerebellar cortex with secondary changes in other cortical layers. A genome-wide association study in a cohort of 31 dogs mapped the ataxia gene to a 1.5 Mb locus on canine chromosome 8 (p(raw) = 1.1x10(-7), p(genome) = 7.5x10(-4)). Sequencing of a functional candidate gene, sel-1 suppressor of lin-12-like (SEL1L), revealed a homozygous missense mutation, c.1972T>C; p.Ser658Pro, in a highly conserved protein domain. The mutation segregated fully in the recessive pedigree, and a 10% carrier frequency was indicated in a population cohort. SEL1L is a component of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated protein degradation (ERAD) machinery and has not been previously associated to inherited ataxias. Dysfunctional protein degradation is known to cause ER stress, and we found a significant increase in expression of nine ER stress responsive genes in the cerebellar cortex of affected dogs, supporting the pathogenicity of the mutation. Our study describes the first early-onset neurodegenerative ataxia mutation in dogs, establishes an ERAD-mediated neurodegenerative disease model, and proposes SEL1L as a new candidate gene in progressive childhood ataxias. Furthermore, our results have enabled the development of a genetic test for breeders.

PMID:
22719266
PMCID:
PMC3375262
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1002759
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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