The vertebrate nuclear lamina is a protein meshwork associated with the nuclear face of the inner nuclear membrane (INM). It provides anchoring sites for chromatin domains, and is an important determinant of interphase nuclear architecture, DNA replication and chromatin organization. The major components of the lamina are the intermediate filament-like proteins, the nuclear lamins, The lamins are grouped into 2 classes, A-type and B-type. The B-type lamins are encoded by 2 genes and are constitutively expressed whereas the A-type lamins are spliced variants from a single gene (Lmna) and their expression is developmentally regulated. They are not expressed in early embryos or adult stem cell and their expression correlates with the terminal differentiation of various lineages. We derived mice that did not express the A-type lamins. Development of the Lamin null mice was overtly normal, but by 4-5 weeks they developed a severe form of muscular dystrophy, had abnormal hearts and were dead by 8 weeks. In humans different mutations in the Lamin A gene are responsible for at least 8 inherited diseases. These include 2 forms of muscular dystrophy, dilated cardiomyopathy, 2 types of Familial Partial Lipodystrohy, one of which also affects skeletal development, a peripheral neuropathy and most recently, the premature ageing condition called Hutchinson Gilford Progeria. We have derived mice with mutations in the Lmna gene that correspond to most of these diseases. We have produced mouse lines that develop muscular dystrophy, dilated cardiomyopathy, and a progeric phenotype. The mice with progeria are providing novel insights into fundamental aspects of aging and how the structure of the nucleus developmentally regulates cell proliferation. The analysis of the laminopathies is providing novel insights into how the structure of the nucleus is important to its function. This is particularly relevant, as in addition to the diseases associated with the lamins (the laminopathies), at least 2 other disease have been linked to mutations in proteins associated with the nuclear envelope. Furthermore, a recent proteomics analysis of the components of the nuclear envelope suggested that an additional 14 diseases might also be linked to altered nuclear envelope proteins. In addition to these diseases we are also looking at what effects Lamin deficiency has on a cells ability to replicate its DNA, chromosome segregation/location and chromatin organization/gene regulation and whether lamin loss may affect tumor development.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Division of Basic Sciences - NCI (NCI)
Intramural Research (Z01)
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Basic Sciences
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