Induced pluripotent HSP stem cell study

Human model for drug screening


The role of spastin levels in regulating SPG4 HSP is demonstrated in this German study. The induced pluripotent HSP stem cells used in this study may be a good model for drug testing to observe the effectiveness of restoring normal functioning.


The hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are a heterogeneous group of motorneuron diseases characterized by progressive spasticity and paresis of the lower limbs. Mutations in Spastic Gait 4 (SPG4), encoding spastin, are the most frequent cause of HSP.

To understand how mutations in SPG4 affect human neurons, we generated human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) from fibroblasts of two patients carrying a c.1684C>T nonsense mutation and from two controls. These SPG4 and control hiPSCs were able to differentiate into neurons and glia at comparable efficiency. All known spastin isoforms were reduced in SPG4 neuronal cells.

The complexity of SPG4 neurites was decreased, which was paralleled by an imbalance of axonal transport with less retrograde movement. Prominent neurite swellings with disrupted microtubules were present in SPG4 neurons at an ultrastructural level. While some of these swellings contain acetylated and detyrosinated tubulin, these tubulin modifications were unchanged in total cell lysates of SPG4 neurons. Upregulation of another microtubule-severing protein, p60 katanin, may partially compensate for microtubuli dynamics in SPG4 neurons. Overexpression of the M1 or M87 spastin isoforms restored neurite length, branching, numbers of primary neurites and reduced swellings in SPG4 neuronal cells.

We conclude that neurite complexity and maintenance in HSP patient-derived neurons are critically sensitive to spastin gene dosage. Our data show that elevation of single spastin isoform levels is sufficient to restore neurite complexity and reduce neurite swellings in patient cells. Furthermore, our human model offers an ideal platform for pharmacological screenings with the goal to restore physiological spastin levels in SPG4 patients.


SOURCE:  Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Jan 10. [Epub ahead of print]  PMID: 24381312 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Gene dosage-dependent rescue of HSP neurite defects in SPG4 patients’ neurons.

Havlicek S1, Kohl Z, Mishra HK, Prots I, Eberhardt E, Denguir N, Wend H, Plötz S, Boyer L, Marchetto MC, Aigner S, Sticht H, Groemer TW, Hehr U, Lampert A, Schlötzer-Schrehardt U, Winkler J, Gage FH, Winner B.

1IZKF Junior Research Group and BMBF Research Group Neuroscience, IZKF, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuernberg (FAU), Glückstr. 6, Erlangen 91054, Germany.



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