Evaluation of TorsinA as a Target for Parkinson Disease Therapy in Mouse Models

Academic Article


  • Parkinson disease (PD) is a common and disabling disorder. No current therapy can slow or reverse disease progression. An important aspect of research in this field is target validation, a systematic approach to evaluating the likelihood that modification of a certain molecule, mechanism or biological pathway may be useful for the development of pharmacological or molecular treatments for the disease. TorsinA, a member of the AAA+ family of chaperone proteins, has been proposed as a potential target of neuroprotective therapy. TorsinA is found in Lewy bodies in human PD, and can suppress toxicity in cellular and invertebrate models of PD. Here, we evaluated the neuroprotective properties of torsinA in mouse models of PD based on intoxication with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) as well as recombinant adeno associated virus (rAAV) induced overexpression of alpha-synuclein (α-syn). Using either transgenic mice with overexpression of human torsinA (hWT mice) or mice in which torsinA expression was induced using an rAAV vector, we found no evidence for protection against acute MPTP intoxication. Similarly, genetic deletion of the endogenous mouse gene for torsinA (Dyt1) using an rAAV delivered Cre recombinase did not enhance the vulnerability of dopaminergic neurons to MPTP. Overexpression of α-syn using rAAV in the mouse substantia nigra lead to a loss of TH positive neurons six months after administration, and no difference in the degree of loss was observed between transgenic animals expressing forms of torsinA and wild type controls. Collectively, we did not observe evidence for a protective effect of torsinA in the mouse models we examined. Each of these models has limitations, and there is no single model with established predictive value with respect to the human disease. Nevertheless, these data do seem to support the view that torsinA is unlikely to be successfully translated as a target of therapy for human PD. © 2012 Li et al.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Li X; Lee J; Parsons D; Janaurajs K; Standaert DG
  • Volume

  • 7
  • Issue

  • 11