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Paradigms for the identification of new genes in motor neuron degeneration

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 20:16 authored by Majid HafezparastMajid Hafezparast, Azlina Ahmad-Annuar, Holger Hummerich, Paresh Shah, Melisa Ford, Cathy Baker, Sam Bowen, Joanne E Martin, Elizabeth M C Fisher
It is estimated that between 10-20% of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is familial and these cases encompass recessive and dominant modes of inheritance. So far, mutations in three genes, superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), the p150 subunit of dynactin (DCTN1), and alsin have been shown to be directly causal for motor neuron degeneration in humans. However, clearly the disorder is genetically heterogeneous and other causal genes remain to be found that explain the vast majority of familial ALS cases. Human genetics can be problematical in that it is difficult to detect linkage in disorders in which multiple loci give similar phenotypes and where families are often small. In addition, the vertical collection of generations is often not possible with late onset disorders. An excellent genetic model of humans is provided by the mouse. We can use mouse models of neurodegeneration to find new genes in the human population. These models are not exact replicas of the human condition, but are the mouse equivalent and are incredibly valuable resources for highlighting genes and biochemical pathways disrupted in ALS and other diseases. In addition mouse models give us access to both control and affected tissues, at all stages of development and disease, thus greatly facilitating our understanding of pathogenesis. They also provide us with model systems for testing new therapies. Here we describe the approach taken to the characterization of new models of motor neuron disease and illustrate this with examples, including a recently characterized mouse model, Legs at odd angles (Loa).


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  • Published


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis




Informa Healthcare





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  • Neuroscience Publications

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