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GILA 2011 Jul;59(7):1009-21. doi: 10.1002/glia.21172. Epub 2011 Apr

Central nervous system dysfunction in a mouse model of FA2H deficiency.

Bielawski, J; Cheng, H; Fullbright, G; Hama, H.; Han, X; Kern, MJ; Khan, PA; Li, JJ; Potter, KA; Rohrer, B; Scherer, SS; Venkata, JK; Yum, SW

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.

Fatty acid 2-hydroxylase (FA2H) is responsible for the synthesis of myelin galactolipids containing hydroxy fatty acid (hFA) as the N-acyl chain. Mutations in the FA2H gene cause leukodystrophy, spastic paraplegia, and neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation. Using the Cre-lox system, we developed two types of mouse mutants, Fa2h(-/-) mice (Fa2h deleted in all cells by germline deletion) and Fa2h(flox/flox) Cnp1-Cre mice (Fa2h deleted only in oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells). We found significant demyelination, profound axonal loss, and abnormally enlarged axons in the CNS of Fa2h(-/-) mice at 12 months of age, while structure and function of peripheral nerves were largely unaffected. Fa2h(-/-) mice also exhibited histological and functional disruption in the cerebellum at 12 months of age. In a time course study, significant deterioration of cerebellar function was first detected at 7 months of age. Further behavioral assessments in water T-maze and Morris water maze tasks revealed significant deficits in spatial learning and memory at 4 months of age. These data suggest that various regions of the CNS are functionally compromised in young adult Fa2h(-/-) mice. The cerebellar deficits in 12-month-old Fa2h(flox/flox) Cnp1-Cre mice were indistinguishable from Fa2h(-/-) mice, indicating that these phenotypes likely stem from the lack of myelin hFA-galactolipids. In contrast, Fa2h(flox/flox) Cnp1-Cre mice did not show reduced performance in water maze tasks, indicating that oligodendrocytes are not involved in the learning and memory deficits found in Fa2h(-/-) mice. These findings provide the first evidence that FA2H has an important function outside of oligodendrocytes in the CNS.

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