Mutations in the Microtubule-Associated Protein 1A (Map1a) Gene Cause Purkinje Cell Degeneration.

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J Neurosci 2015 Mar 18; 35(11):3587-98.




The structural microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) are critical for the organization of neuronal microtubules (MTs). Microtubule-associated protein 1A (MAP1A) is one of the most abundantly expressed MAPs in the mammalian brain. However, its in vivo function remains largely unknown. Here we describe a spontaneous mouse mutation, nm2719, which causes tremors, ataxia, and loss of cerebellar Purkinje neurons in aged homozygous mice. The nm2719 mutation disrupts the Map1a gene. We show that targeted deletion of mouse Map1a gene leads to similar neurodegenerative defects. Before neuron death, Map1a mutant Purkinje cells exhibited abnormal focal swellings of dendritic shafts and disruptions in axon initial segment (AIS) morphology. Furthermore, the MT network was reduced in the somatodendritic and AIS compartments, and both the heavy and light chains of MAP1B, another brain-enriched MAP, was aberrantly distributed in the soma and dendrites of mutant Purkinje cells. MAP1A has been reported to bind to the membrane-associated guanylate kinase (MAGUK) scaffolding proteins, as well as to MTs. Indeed, PSD-93, the MAGUK specifically enriched in Purkinje cells, was reduced in Map1a(-/-) Purkinje cells. These results demonstrate that MAP1A functions to maintain both the neuronal MT network and the level of PSD-93 in neurons of the mammalian brain. J Neurosci 2015 Mar 18; 35(11):3587-98.