Defining a Neuroprotective Pathway for the Treatment of Ataxias

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Defining a Neuroprotective Pathway for the Treatment of Ataxias

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Spinocerebellar Ataxias (SCAs) are a group of genetic diseases characterized by progressive ataxia caused by neurodegeneration of specific cell types, namely Purkinje Cells (PCs) of the cerebellum. Mouse models of SCA Type 1 (SCA1) can be used to study the molecular mechanisms underlying PC degeneration and death. One SCA1 mouse model, ATXN1[30Q]D776, has an initial ataxia but no progressive degeneration or PC death. RNA-seq experiments identified the up-regulation in the cerebellum of the peptide hormone Cholecystokinin (Cck) in these mice. Knocking out Cck or the Cck1 receptor (Cck1R) in ATXN1[30Q]D776 mice confers a progressive disease where PC death occurs by thirty-six weeks of age. Weighted Gene Co-expression Network Analysis (WGCNA) performed on cerebellar RNA-seq data from ATXN1[30Q]D776;Cck-/- mice identified a disease progression-related gene set named the Pink Module that is influenced by Cck. A Cck1R agonist, A71623, was administered via osmotic minipump to ATXN1[30Q]D776;Cck-/- mice and AXTN1[82Q] mice, which are a more faithful representation of human SCA1 PC degeneration. In both mouse models, A71623 protected against progressive ataxia and PC degeneration. These results suggest that manipulation of the Cck-Cck1R pathway may be a therapeutic target for treatment of diseases involving PC degeneration.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2016. Major: Neuroscience. Advisor: Harry Orr. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 100 pages.

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Leathley, Emily. (2016). Defining a Neuroprotective Pathway for the Treatment of Ataxias. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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