Faculty Research 1990 - 1999


Reduced fertility in female mice lacking copper-zinc superoxide dismutase.

Document Type


Publication Date


JAX Source

J Biol Chem 1998 Mar 27;273(13):7765-9


HL56421/HL/NHLBI, P30ES06639/ES/NIEHS, ES06807/ES/NIEHS, +


Copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZn-SOD) is believed to play a major role in the first line of antioxidant defense by catalyzing the dismutation of superoxide anion radicals to form hydrogen peroxide and molecular oxygen. Recent studies have shown that missense mutations in this gene contribute, evidently through a gain-of-function mechanism, to about 20% of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. To define further the physiologic role of this enzyme, a model of mice deficient in this enzyme was generated using gene targeting technology. Mice lacking this enzyme were apparently healthy and displayed no increased sensitivity to hyperoxia. However, they exhibited a pronounced susceptibility to paraquat toxicity. Most surprisingly, female homozygous knock-out mice showed a markedly reduced fertility compared with that of wild-type and heterozygous knock-out mice. Further studies revealed that although these mice ovulated and conceived normally, they exhibited a marked increase in embryonic lethality. These data, for the first time, suggest a role of oxygen free radicals in causing abnormality of female reproduction in mammals.