Study of Survival Motor Neuron protein regulation and the role of autophagy in Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Universitat de Lleida. Departament de Ciències Mèdiques Bàsiques
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Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a genetic disorder caused by loss of the Survival motor neuron 1 gene (SMN1), lead to reduced SMN protein level and selective dysfunction of MNs. SMN reduction causes neurite degeneration and cell death without classical apoptotic features, but the direct events leading
to MN degeneration in SMA are still unknown. Autophagy is being a primary target for the treatment of many neurodegenerative diseases. The objective of the present study is to analyze the role of autophagy in SMA pathology, the mechanisms that regulate SMN protein degradation and the origin of neurodegeneration in spinal cord MNs. To this end, we have reduced the Smn protein by using the lentivirus knockdown method. In Smn-reduced MNs from lentivirus Smn knockdown and SMA type I transgenic mice models, we have observed the increase of autophagy markers and autophagosome accumulation. Treatment with autophagy activators or inhibitors or proteasome inhibitors or calpain knockdown induce changes of Smn protein level in MNs suggesting the role of autophagy and proteasome in the regulation of Smn protein in these cells. Therefore the results contribute to new insight about Smn protein regulation in MNs and the possible role of autophagy in SMA neurodegeneration.
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