Genetic and functional studies of hereditary myopathy with lactic acidosis
Sammanfattning: Hereditary myopathy with lactic acidosis (HML, OMIM#255125) is an autosomal recessive disorder which originates from Västerbotten and Ångermanland in the Northern part of Sweden. HML is characterized by severe exercise intolerance which manifests with tachycardia, dyspnea, muscle pain, cramps, elevated lactate and pyruvate levels, weakness and myoglobinuria. The symptoms arise from malfunction of the energy metabolism in skeletal muscles with defects in several important enzymes involved in the TCA cycle and the electron transport chain. All affected proteins contain iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters, which led to the suggestion that the disease was caused by malfunctions in either the transportation, assembly or processing of Fe-S clusters.The aim of my thesis was to identify the disease causing gene of HML and to investigate the underlying disease-mechanisms. In paper I we identified a disease-critical region on chromosome 12; a region containing 16 genes. One of the genes coded for the Fe-S cluster assembly protein ISCU and an intronic base pair substitution (g.7044G>C) was identified in the last intron of this gene. The mutation gave rise to the insertion of intron sequence into the mRNA, leading to a protein containing 15 abberant amino acids and a premature stop. In paper II we investigated why a mutation in an evolutionary well conserved protein with a very important cellular role, which in addition is expressed in almost all tissues, gives rise to a muscle-restricted phenotype. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR analysis showed that the mutant transcript constituted almost 80% of total ISCU mRNA in muscle, while in both heart and liver the normal splice form was dominant. We could also show that, in mice, complete absence of Iscu protein was coupled with early embryonic death, further emphasizing the importance of the protein in all tissues. These data strongly suggested that tissue-specific splicing was the main mechanism responsible for the muscle-specific phenotype of HML. In paper III the splicing mechanisms that give rise to the mutant ISCU transcript was further investigated. We identified three proteins; PTBP1, IGF2BP1 and RBM39, that could bind to the region containing the mutation and could affect the splicing pattern of ISCU in an in vitro system. PTBP1 repressed the inclusion of the intronic sequence, while IGF2BP1 and RBM39 repressed the total ISCU mRNA level though the effect was more pronounced for the normal transcript. Moreover, IGF2BP1 and RBM39 were also able to reverse the effect of PTBP1. IGF2BP1, though not a splicing factor, had higher affinity for the mutant sequence. This suggested that the mutation enables IGF2BP1 binding, thereby preventing the PTBP1 induced repression seen in the normal case.In conclusion, we have determined the genetic cause of HML, identifying a base pair substitution in the last intron of the ISCU gene that gives rise to abnormally spliced transcript. The muscle-specific phenotype was also analyzed and tissue-specific splicing was identified as the main disease-mechanism. Furthermore, nuclear factors with ability to affect the splicing pattern of the mutant ISCU gene were identified. This work has thoroughly investigated the fundamental disease mechanisms, thus providing deeper understanding for this hereditary myopathy.
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