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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Fine-structural analysis and connexin expression in the retina of a transgenic model of Huntington's disease.

Recent studies indicate that the visual system appears more frequently affected in polyglutamine diseases than expected previously. Here, we investigated retinal degenerations in adult transgenic R6/2 mice, a model for Huntington's disease ( HD). Light microscopical analysis revealed retinal dystrophy all over the retina, with central areas showing major effects. Electron microscopical analysis showed strong degenerations of outer and inner photoreceptor segments, shrinkage of photoreceptor cell somata, and signs of degeneration in photoreceptor terminals in the outer plexiform layer. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling showed hints of apoptosis. Mutant huntingtin and ubiquitin were expressed in all classes of retinal neurons, the pigment epithelium, and to a minor extent in neuropil structures. For investigating possible links to functional impairments in the rod-cone pathway, expression levels of three connexins (Cx) were compared in R6/2 and wildtype mice retinae. In R6/2 mice, expression of Cx36, the major neuronal connexin in the retina, was slightly reduced in the outer plexiform layer, indicating affected photoreceptor terminals as detected at the electron microscopical level. In contrast, Cx45, a putative neuronal connexin in the retina, was remarkably reduced in the inner plexiform layer of R6/2 mice. This result corresponded to fainter signals of Cx45 mRNA as documented by in situ hybridization and to a lower level of mCx45 cDNA as obtained by polymerase chain reaction after reverse transcription, suggesting functional deficits in spatial processing of Cx45-mediated gap junction coupling due to transgene-induced retinal degenerations. Thus, it is important to clarify the meaning of visual involvement in HD.[1]


  1. Fine-structural analysis and connexin expression in the retina of a transgenic model of Huntington's disease. Petrasch-Parwez, E., Habbes, H.W., Weickert, S., Löbbecke-Schumacher, M., Striedinger, K., Wieczorek, S., Dermietzel, R., Epplen, J.T. J. Comp. Neurol. (2004) [Pubmed]
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