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Hum Mol Genet. 2015 Jun 15;24(12):3518-28. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddv103. Epub 2015 Mar 18.

Elucidating the impact of neurofibromatosis-1 germline mutations on neurofibromin function and dopamine-based learning.

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Department of Neurology and.
Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA and.
Department of Genetics, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.
Department of Neurology and


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common autosomal dominant neurologic condition characterized by significant clinical heterogeneity, ranging from malignant cancers to cognitive deficits. Recent studies have begun to reveal rare genotype-phenotype correlations, suggesting that the specific germline NF1 gene mutation may be one factor underlying disease heterogeneity. The purpose of this study was to define the impact of the germline NF1 gene mutation on brain neurofibromin function relevant to learning. Herein, we employ human NF1-patient primary skin fibroblasts, induced pluripotent stem cells and derivative neural progenitor cells (NPCs) to demonstrate that NF1 germline mutations have dramatic effects on neurofibromin expression. Moreover, while all NF1-patient NPCs exhibit increased RAS activation and reduced cyclic AMP generation, there was a neurofibromin dose-dependent reduction in dopamine (DA) levels. Additionally, we leveraged two complementary Nf1 genetically-engineered mouse strains in which hippocampal-based learning and memory is DA-dependent to establish that neuronal DA levels and signaling as well as mouse spatial learning are controlled in an Nf1 gene dose-dependent manner. Collectively, this is the first demonstration that different germline NF1 gene mutations differentially dictate neurofibromin function in the brain.

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