This past year we have attempted to determine if the sphingosine kinase/S1P receptor axis has a significant role during neurodegeneration. We used a well-established Sandhoff mouse model of neurodegeneration, which included neuronal apoptosis, inflammation and gliosis. In order to determine if S1P production was important during the neurodegenerative process we deleted the Sphk1 gene in the Sandhoff model. We found a significant improvement in life span and clinical condition of these mice compared with the control Sandhoff mice with a normal Sphk1 gene. These results indicate that Sphk1 expression may have contributed to the neurodegenerative course. Future experiments will address the mechanism of the improved course of the disease.

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Wu, Yun-Ping; Mizugishi, Kiyomi; Bektas, Meryem et al. (2008) Sphingosine kinase 1/S1P receptor signaling axis controls glial proliferation in mice with Sandhoff disease. Hum Mol Genet 17:2257-64
Kono, Mari; Allende, Maria Laura; Proia, Richard L (2008) Sphingosine-1-phosphate regulation of mammalian development. Biochim Biophys Acta 1781:435-41