NF1 is a critical regulator of muscle development and metabolism


Kate Sullivan, Jad El-Hoss, Kate G. R. Quinlan, Nikita Deo, Fleur Garton, Jane T. C. Seto, Marie Gdalevitch, Nigel Turner, Gregory J. Cooney, Mateusz Kolanczyk, Kathryn N. North, David G. Little and Aaron Schindeler


There is emerging evidence for reduced muscle function in children with Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). We have examined three murine models featuring NF1 deficiency in muscle to study the effect on muscle function as well as any underlying pathophysiology. The Nf1+/- mouse exhibited no differences in overall weight, lean tissue mass, fiber size, muscle weakness as measured by grip strength, or muscle atrophy-recovery with limb disuse, although this model lacks many other characteristic features of the human disease. Next, muscle-specific knockout mice (Nf1muscle−/-) were generated and they exhibited a failure to thrive leading to neonatal lethality. Intramyocellular lipid accumulations were observed by electron microscopy (EM) and Oil Red O staining. More mature muscle specimens lacking Nf1 expression taken from the limb-specific Nf1Prx1−/- conditional knockout line showed a 10-fold increase in muscle triglyceride content. Enzyme assays revealed a significant increase in the activities of oxidative metabolism enzymes in the Nf1Prx1−/- mice. Western analyses showed increases in the expression of Fatty Acid Synthase (FAS) and the hormone Leptin, as well as decreased expression of a number of fatty acid transporters in this mouse line. These data support the hypothesis that NF1 is essential for normal muscle function and survival and are the first to suggest a direct link between NF1 and mitochondrial fatty acid metabolism.

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