Effect of genetic background on phenotype variability in transgenic mouse models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a window of opportunity in the search for genetic modifiers.

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Animals, Disease-Models-Animal, Drug-Design, Genotype, Humans, Male, Mice-Transgenic, Nerve-Degeneration, Phenotype, Protein-Isoforms, Superoxide-Dismutase, Survival-Rate

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Amyotroph Lateral Scler 2011 Mar; 12(2):79-86.


Transgenic (Tg) mouse models of FALS containing mutant human SOD1 genes (G37R, G85R, D90A, or G93A missense mutations or truncated SOD1) exhibit progressive neurodegeneration of the motor system that bears a striking resemblance to ALS, both clinically and pathologically. The most utilized and best characterized Tg mice are the G93A mutant hSOD1 (Tg(hSOD1-G93A)1GUR mice), abbreviated G93A. In this review we highlight what is known about background-dependent differences in disease phenotype in transgenic mice that carry mutated human or mouse SOD1. Expression of G93A-hSOD1Tg in congenic lines with ALR, NOD.Rag1KO, SJL or C3H backgrounds show a more severe phenotype than in the mixed (B6xSJL) hSOD1Tg mice, whereas a milder phenotype is observed in B6, B10, BALB/c and DBA inbred lines. We hypothesize that the background differences are due to disease-modifying genes. Identification of modifier genes can highlight intracellular pathways already suspected to be involved in motor neuron degeneration; it may also point to new pathways and processes that have not yet been considered. Most importantly, identified modifier genes provide new targets for the development of therapies.

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