Neurogenetics 2010 Oct 27;11(4):369-78. Epub 2010 Jul 27.
National Institutes of Health-Karolinska Institutet Graduate Partnerships Program, 171 77, Stockholm, Sweden.
Mast syndrome (SPG21) is a childhood-onset, autosomal recessive, complicated form of hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) characterized by dementia, thin corpus callosum, white matter abnormalities, and cerebellar and extrapyramidal signs in addition to spastic paraparesis. A nucleotide insertion resulting in premature truncation of the SPG21 gene product maspardin underlies this disorder, likely leading to loss of protein function. In this study, we generated SPG21-/- knockout mice by homologous recombination as a possible animal model for SPG21. Though SPG21-/- mice appeared normal at birth, within several months they developed gradually progressive hind limb dysfunction. Cerebral cortical neurons cultured from SPG21-/- mice exhibited significantly more axonal branching than neurons from wild-type animals, while comprehensive neuropathological analysis of SPG21-/- mice did not reveal definitive abnormalities. Since alterations in axon branching have been seen in neurons derived from animal models of other forms of HSP as well as motor neuron diseases, this may represent a common cellular pathogenic theme.