Publications by authors named "Monique C M Balemans"

4 Publications

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Actual drawing of histological images improves knowledge retention.

Anat Sci Educ 2016 Jan-Feb;9(1):60-70. Epub 2015 May 29.

Department of Cell Biology, Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Medical students have to process a large amount of information during the first years of their study, which has to be retained over long periods of nonuse. Therefore, it would be beneficial when knowledge is gained in a way that promotes long-term retention. Paper-and-pencil drawings for the uptake of form-function relationships of basic tissues has been a teaching tool for a long time, but now seems to be redundant with virtual microscopy on computer-screens and printers everywhere. Several studies claimed that, apart from learning from pictures, actual drawing of images significantly improved knowledge retention. However, these studies applied only immediate post-tests. We investigated the effects of actual drawing of histological images, using randomized cross-over design and different retention periods. The first part of the study concerned esophageal and tracheal epithelium, with 384 medical and biomedical sciences students randomly assigned to either the drawing or the nondrawing group. For the second part of the study, concerning heart muscle cells, students from the previous drawing group were now assigned to the nondrawing group and vice versa. One, four, and six weeks after the experimental intervention, the students were given a free recall test and a questionnaire or drawing exercise, to determine the amount of knowledge retention. The data from this study showed that knowledge retention was significantly improved in the drawing groups compared with the nondrawing groups, even after four or six weeks. This suggests that actual drawing of histological images can be used as a tool to improve long-term knowledge retention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ase.1545DOI Listing
October 2016

Reduced Euchromatin histone methyltransferase 1 causes developmental delay, hypotonia, and cranial abnormalities associated with increased bone gene expression in Kleefstra syndrome mice.

Dev Biol 2014 Feb 19;386(2):395-407. Epub 2013 Dec 19.

Department of Genetics, Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Radboud University Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands; Department of Cognitive Neurosciences, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Haploinsufficiency of Euchromatin histone methyltransferase 1 (EHMT1), a chromatin modifying enzyme, is the cause of Kleefstra syndrome (KS). KS is an intellectual disability (ID) syndrome, with general developmental delay, hypotonia, and craniofacial dysmorphisms as additional core features. Recent studies have been focused on the role of EHMT1 in learning and memory, linked to the ID phenotype of KS patients. In this study we used the Ehmt1(+/-) mouse model, and investigated whether the core features of KS were mimicked in these mice. When comparing Ehmt1(+/-) mice to wildtype littermates we observed delayed postnatal growth, eye opening, ear opening, and upper incisor eruption, indicating a delayed postnatal development. Furthermore, tests for muscular strength and motor coordination showed features of hypotonia in young Ehmt1(+/-) mice. Lastly, we found that Ehmt1(+/-) mice showed brachycephalic crania, a shorter or bent nose, and hypertelorism, reminiscent of the craniofacial dysmorphisms seen in KS. In addition, gene expression analysis revealed a significant upregulation of the mRNA levels of Runx2 and several other bone tissue related genes in P28 Ehmt1(+/-) mice. Runx2 immunostaining also appeared to be increased. The mRNA upregulation was associated with decreased histone H3 lysine 9 dimethylation (H3K9me2) levels, the epigenetic mark deposited by Ehmt1, in the promoter region of these genes. Together, Ehmt1(+/-) mice indeed recapitulate KS core features and can be used as an animal model for Kleefstra syndrome. The increased expression of bone developmental genes in the Ehmt1(+/-) mice likely contributes to their cranial dysmorphisms and might be explained by diminished Ehmt1-induced H3K9 dimethylation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2013.12.016DOI Listing
February 2014

Hippocampal dysfunction in the Euchromatin histone methyltransferase 1 heterozygous knockout mouse model for Kleefstra syndrome.

Hum Mol Genet 2013 Mar 21;22(5):852-66. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

Department of Human Genetics, Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Euchromatin histone methyltransferase 1 (EHMT1) is a highly conserved protein that catalyzes mono- and dimethylation of histone H3 lysine 9, thereby epigenetically regulating transcription. Kleefstra syndrome (KS), is caused by haploinsufficiency of the EHMT1 gene, and is an example of an emerging group of intellectual disability (ID) disorders caused by genes encoding epigenetic regulators of neuronal gene activity. Little is known about the mechanisms underlying this disorder, prompting us to study the Euchromatin histone methyltransferase 1 heterozygous knockout (Ehmt1(+/-)) mice as a model for KS. In agreement with the cognitive disturbances observed in patients with KS, we detected deficits in fear extinction learning and both novel and spatial object recognition in Ehmt1(+/-) mice. These learning and memory deficits were associated with a significant reduction in dendritic arborization and the number of mature spines in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons of Ehmt1(+/-) mice. In-depth analysis of the electrophysiological properties of CA3-CA1 synapses revealed no differences in basal synaptic transmission or theta-burst induced long-term potentiation (LTP). However, paired-pulse facilitation (PPF) was significantly increased in Ehmt1(+/-) neurons, pointing to a potential deficiency in presynaptic neurotransmitter release. Accordingly, a reduction in the frequency of miniature excitatory post-synaptic currents (mEPSCs) was observed in Ehmt1(+/-) neurons. These data demonstrate that Ehmt1 haploinsufficiency in mice leads to learning deficits and synaptic dysfunction, providing a possible mechanism for the ID phenotype in patients with KS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/dds490DOI Listing
March 2013

Reduced exploration, increased anxiety, and altered social behavior: Autistic-like features of euchromatin histone methyltransferase 1 heterozygous knockout mice.

Behav Brain Res 2010 Mar 5;208(1):47-55. Epub 2009 Nov 5.

Department of Human Genetics, Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

The 9q34.3 subtelomeric deletion syndrome is a newly defined mental retardation syndrome, caused by haplo-insufficiency of the euchromatin histone methyltransferase 1 (EHMT1) gene. Patients also have childhood hypotonia, facial dysmorphisms, delay in reaching developmental milestones, and behavioral problems like aggressive outbursts, hypoactivity, or autistic-like features. Male and female heterozygous Ehmt1 knockout mice (Ehmt1(+/-), aged 1-20 months, kept on a C57BL/6J background), were used to investigate whether they mimic the patients behavioral characteristics by comparing their behavior to wildtype littermates. The Ehmt1(+/-) mice revealed reduced activity and exploration, with increased anxiety compared to wildtype mice when exposed to novel environments in the open field, object exploration, marble burying, light-dark box, mirrored chamber and T-maze tests. They also demonstrated diminished social play when encountering a mouse from a different litter, and a delayed or absent response to social novelty when exposed to a stranger mouse. However, no differences in phenotyper home cage locomotor activity or rotarod motor function were observed between Ehmt1(+/-) and wildtype mice. Together, these results indicate that the hypoactivity and the autistic-like features of 9q34.3 subtelomeric deletion syndrome patients are recapitulated in this Ehmt1(+/-) mouse model, and that the hypoactivity is apparently not caused by any motor dysfunction. Together, these observations make it plausible that the Ehmt1(+/-) mouse is a faithful mammalian model for the autistic-like behavioral features of patients with the 9q34.3 subtelomeric deletion syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2009.11.008DOI Listing
March 2010