Lethal phenotype in conditional late-onset arginase 1 deficiency in the mouse
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Molecular genetics and metabolism. - Orlando, Fla
, p. 222-230
University of Antwerp
Human arginase deficiency is characterized by hyperargininemia and infrequent episodes of hyperammonemia, which lead to neurological impairment with spasticity, loss of ambulation, seizures, and severe mental and growth retardation; uncommonly, patients suffer early death from this disorder. In a murine targeted knockout model, onset of the phenotypic abnormality is heralded by weight loss at around day 15, and death occurs typically by postnatal day 17 with hyperargininemia and markedly elevated ammonia. This discrepancy between the more attenuated juvenile-onset human disease and the lethal neonatal murine model has remained suboptimal for studying and developing therapy for the more common presentation of arginase deficiency. These investigations aimed to address this issue by creating an adult conditional knockout mouse to determine whether later onset of arginase deficiency also resulted in lethality. Animal survival and ammonia levels, body weight, circulating amino acids, and tissue arginase levels were examined as outcome parameters after widespread Cre-recombinase activation in a conditional knockout model of arginase 1 deficiency. One hundred percent of adult female and 70% of adult male mice died an average of 21.0 and 21.6 days, respectively, after the initiation of tamoxifen administration. Animals demonstrated elevated circulating ammonia and arginine at the onset of phenotypic abnormalities. In addition, brain and liver amino acids demonstrated abnormalities. These studies demonstrate that (a) the absence of arginase in adult animals results in a disease profile (leading to death) similar to that of the targeted knockout and (b) the phenotypic abnormalities seen in the juvenile-onset model are not exclusive to the age of the animal but instead to the biochemistry of the disorder. This adult model will be useful for developing gene- and cell-based therapies for this disorder that will not be limited by the small animal size of neonatal therapy and for developing a better understanding of the characteristics of hyperargininemia.