Human molecular genetics

Expression of a pathogenic mutation of SOD1 sensitizes aprataxin-deficient cells and mice to oxidative stress and triggers hallmarks of premature ageing.

PMID 25274775


Aprataxin (APTX) deficiency causes progressive cerebellar degeneration, ataxia and oculomotor apraxia in man. Cell free assays and crystal structure studies demonstrate a role for APTX in resolving 5'-adenylated nucleic acid breaks, however, APTX function in vertebrates remains unclear due to the lack of an appropriate model system. Here, we generated a murine model in which a pathogenic mutant of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1(G93A)) is expressed in an Aptx-/- mouse strain. We report a delayed population doubling and accelerated senescence in Aptx-/- primary mouse fibroblasts, which is not due to detectable telomere instability or cell cycle deregulation but is associated with a reduction in transcription recovery following oxidative stress. Expression of SOD1(G93A) uncovers a survival defect ex vivo in cultured cells and in vivo in tissues lacking Aptx. The surviving neurons feature numerous and deep nuclear envelope invaginations, a hallmark of cellular stress. Furthermore, they possess an elevated number of high-density nuclear regions and a concomitant increase in histone H3 K9 trimethylation, hallmarks of silenced chromatin. Finally, the accelerated cellular senescence was also observed at the organismal level as shown by down-regulation of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hallmark of premature ageing. Together, this study demonstrates a protective role of Aptx in vivo and suggests that its loss results in progressive accumulation of DNA breaks in the nervous system, triggering hallmarks of premature ageing, systemically.