Gene expression analysis reveals early dysregulation of disease pathways and links Chmp7 to pathogenesis of spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy

Journal Article: Scientific ReportsYear Published: (2019) Volume Number: 9, Article Number: 3539

Authors

Malik,Bilal; Devine,Helen; Patani,Rickie; La Spada,Albert R; Hanna,Michael G; Greensmith,Linda

Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) results from a CAG repeat expansion within the androgen receptor gene (AR). It is unclear why motor neurons selectively degenerate and there are currently no treatments for this debilitating disease. To uncover the causative genes and pathways involved in motor neuron dysfunction, we undertook transcriptomic profiling of primary embryonic motor neurons from SBMA mice. We show that transcriptional dysregulation occurs early during development in SBMA motor neurons. One gene found to be dysregulated, Chmp7, was also altered in vivo in spinal cord before symptom onset in SBMA mice, and crucially in motor neuron precursor cells derived from SBMA patient stem cells, suggesting that Chmp7 may play a causal role in disease pathogenesis by disrupting the endosome-lysosome system. Furthermore, genes were enriched in SBMA motor neurons in several key pathways including p53, DNA repair, WNT and mitochondrial function. SBMA embryonic motor neurons also displayed dysfunctional mitochondria along with DNA damage, possibly resulting from DNA repair gene dysregulation and/or mitochondrial dysfunction. This indicates that a coordinated dysregulation of multiple pathways leads to development of SBMA. Importantly, our findings suggest that the identified pathways and genes, in particular Chmp7, may serve as potential therapeutic targets in SBMA.