PMID: 14640321Dec 3, 2003Paper

Neurobehavioral characteristics of mice with modified intermediate filament genes

Reviews in the Neurosciences
R Lalonde, C Strazielle


Intermediate proteins comprise cytoskeletal elements that preserve the shape and structure of neurons. These proteins have been proposed to be involved in the onset and progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), mainly characterized by motoneuron atrophy and paresis. In support of this hypothesis are the findings that genetically modified mice for intermediate filaments successfully mimic certain neuropathological aspects of ALS, such as reduced axonal caliber and retarded conduction speed in peripheral nerves, although often without leading to paresis. Nevertheless, even in those models with no overt phenotype, the involvement of intermediate proteins in motor function is underlined by the deficits in tests of balance and equilibrium revealed in mice containing transgenes for neurofilament of heavy molecular weight (NFH), alpha-internexin, peripherin, and vimentin. In addition, spatial learning was impaired in transgenic mice expressing transgenes for NFH and NFM, similar to the memory deficits reported in patients with ALS.


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