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Motoneuron degeneration in the trigeminal motor nucleus innervating the masseter muscle in Dystonia musculorum mice

Hossain, MI;Horie, M;Yoshioka, N;Kurose, M;Yamamura, K;Takebayashi, H;

Dystonia musculorum (dt) mice, which have a mutation in the Dystonin (Dst) gene, are used as animal models to investigate the human disease known as hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type VI. Massive neuronal cell death is observed, mainly in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) of dt mice. We and others have recently reported a histopathological feature of these mice that neurofilament (NF) accumulates in various areas of the central nervous system (CNS), including motor pathways. Although dt mice show motor disorder and growth retardation, the causes for these are still unknown. Here we performed histopathological analyses on motor units of the trigeminal motor nucleus (Mo5 nucleus), because they are a good system to understand neuronal responses in the mutant CNS, and abnormalities in this system may lead to problems in mastication, with subsequent growth retardation. We report that motoneurons with NF accumulation in the Mo5 nuclei of Dst(Gt) homozygous mice express the stress-induced genes CHOP, ATF3, and lipocalin 2 (Lcn2). We also show a reduced number of Mo5 motoneurons and a reduced size of Mo5 nuclei in Dst(Gt) homozygous mice, possibly due to apoptosis, given the presence of cleaved caspase 3-positive Mo5 motoneurons. In the mandibular (V3) branches of the trigeminal nerve, which contains axons of Mo5 motoneurons and trigeminal sensory neurons, there was infiltration of Iba1-positive macrophages. Finally, we report atrophy of the masseter muscles in Dst(Gt) homozygous mice, which showed abnormal nuclear localization of myofibrils and increased expression of atrogin-1 mRNA, a muscle atrophy-related gene and weaker masseter muscle strength with uncontrolled muscle activity by electromyography (EMG). Taken together, our findings strongly suggest that mastication in dt mice is affected due to abnormalities of Mo5 motoneurons and masseter muscles, leading to growth retardation at the post-weaning stages.