Mutations in the PLA2G6 gene, which encodes group VIA calcium-independent phospholipase A2 (iPLA2β), were recently identified in patients with infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy (INAD) and neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation. A pathological hall-mark of these childhood neurodegenerative diseases is the presence of distinctive spheroids in distal axons that contain accumulated membranes. We used iPLA2β-KO mice generated by homologous recombination to investigate neurodegenerative consequences of PLA2G6 mutations. iPLA2β-KO mice developed age-dependent neurological impairment that was evident in rotarod, balance, and climbing tests by 13 months of age. The primary abnormality underlying this neurological impairment was the formation of spheroids containing tubulovesicular membranes remarkably similar to human INAD. Spheroids were strongly labeled with anti-ubiquitin antibodies. Accumulation of ubiquitinated protein in spheroids was evident in some brain regions as early as 4 months of age, and the onset of motor impairment correlated with a dramatic increase in ubiquitin-positive spheroids throughout the neuropil in nearly all brain regions. Furthermore accumulating ubiquitinated proteins were observed primarily in insoluble fractions of brain tissue, implicating protein aggregation in this pathogenic process. These results indicate that loss of iPLA2β causes age-dependent impairment of axonal membrane homeostasis and protein degradation pathways, leading to age-dependent neurological impairment. iPLA2β-KO mice will be useful for further studies of pathogenesis and experimental interventions in INAD and neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-416
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


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