The gene encoding the WD repeat-containing protein 81 (WDR81) has recently been described as the disease locus in a consanguineous family that suffers from cerebellar ataxia, mental retardation, and quadrupedal locomotion syndrome (CAMRQ2). Adult mice from the N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea-induced mutant mouse line nur5 display tremor and an abnormal gait, as well as Purkinje cell degeneration and photoreceptor cell loss. We have used polymorphic marker mapping to demonstrate that affected nur5 mice carry a missense mutation, L1349P, in the Wdr81 gene. Moreover, homozygous nur5 mice that carry a wild-type Wdr81 transgene are rescued from the abnormal phenotype, indicating that Wdr81 is the causative gene in nur5. WDR81 is expressed in Purkinje cells and photoreceptor cells, among other CNS neurons, and like the human mutation, thenur5modification lies in the predicted major facilitator super family domain of the WDR81 protein. Electron microscopy analysis revealed that a subset of mitochondria in Purkinje cell dendrites of the mutant animals displayed an aberrant, large spheroid-like structure. Moreover, immunoelectron microscopy and analysis of mitochondrial-enriched cerebellum fractions indicate that WDR81 is localized in mitochondria of Purkinje cell neurons. Because the nur5 mouse mutant demonstrates phenotypic similarities to the human disease, it provides a valuable genetic model for elucidating the pathogenic mechanism of the WDR81 mutation inCAMRQ2.
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