Mutations of human Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD) are found in about 20 percent of patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Expression of high levels of human SOD containing a substitution of glycine to alanine at position 93-a change that has little effect on enzyme activity-caused motor neuron disease in transgenic mice. The mice became paralyzed in one or more limbs as a result of motor neuron loss from the spinal cord and died by 5 to 6 months of age. The results show that dominant, gain-of-function mutations in SOD contribute to the pathogenesis of familial ALS.
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