A Novel SCA3 Knock-in Mouse Model Mimics the Human SCA3 Disease Phenotype Including Neuropathological, Behavioral, and Transcriptional Abnormalities Especially in Oligodendrocytes

Eva Haas, Rana D. Incebacak, Thomas Hentrich, Chrisovalantou Huridou, Thorsten Schmidt, Nicolas Casadei, Yacine Maringer, Carola Bahl, Frank Zimmermann, James D. Mills, Eleonora Aronica, Olaf Riess, Julia M. Schulze-Hentrich, Jeannette Hübener-Schmid

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 is the most common autosomal dominant inherited ataxia worldwide, caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the Ataxin-3 gene resulting in a polyglutamine (polyQ)-expansion in the corresponding protein. The disease is characterized by neuropathological, phenotypical, and specific transcriptional changes in affected brain regions. So far, there is no mouse model available representing all the different aspects of the disease, yet highly needed for a better understanding of the disease pathomechanisms. Here, we characterized a novel Ataxin-3 knock-in mouse model, expressing a heterozygous or homozygous expansion of 304 CAACAGs in the murine Ataxin-3 locus using biochemical, behavioral, and transcriptomic approaches. We compared neuropathological, and behavioral features of the new knock-in model with the in SCA3 research mostly used YAC84Q mouse model. Further, we compared transcriptional changes found in cerebellar samples of the SCA3 knock-in mice and post-mortem human SCA3 patients. The novel knock-in mouse is characterized by the expression of a polyQ-expansion in the murine Ataxin-3 protein, leading to aggregate formation, especially in brain regions known to be vulnerable in SCA3 patients, and impairment of Purkinje cells. Along these neuropathological changes, the mice showed a reduction in body weight accompanied by gait and balance instability. Transcriptomic analysis of cerebellar tissue revealed age-dependent differential expression, enriched for genes attributed to myelinating oligodendrocytes. Comparing these changes with those found in cerebellar tissue of SCA3 patients, we discovered an overlap of differentially expressed genes pointing towards similar gene expression perturbances in several genes linked to myelin sheaths and myelinating oligodendrocytes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • Ataxin-3
  • Knock-in mouse model
  • Machado-Joseph disease
  • Myelinating oligodendrocytes
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3

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