Indexed on: 14 Sep '10Published on: 14 Sep '10Published in: Gene Expression Patterns
Copper is a trace element that is essential for the normal growth and development of all living organisms. In mammals, the ATP7A Cu-transporting ATPase is a key protein that is required for the maintenance of copper homeostasis. In both humans and mice, the ATP7A protein is coded by the X-linked ATP7A/Atp7a gene. Disturbances in copper metabolism caused by mutations in the ATP7A/Atp7a gene lead to severe metabolic syndromes Menkes disease in humans and the lethal mottled phenotype in mice. Mosaic is one of numerous mottled mutations and may serve as a model for a severe Menkes disease variant. In Menkes patients, mutations in the ATP7A gene often result in a decreased level of the normal ATP7A protein. The aim of this study was to analyse the expression of the Atp7a gene in mosaic mutants in early postnatal development, a critical period for starting copper supplementation therapy in both Menkes patients and mutant mice. Using real-time quantitative RT-PCR, we analysed the expression of the Atp7a gene in the brain, kidney and liver of newborn (P0.5) and suckling (P14) mice. Our results indicate that in mosaic P0.5 mutants, the Atp7a mRNA level is decreased in all analysed organs in comparison with wild-type animals. In two week-old mutants, a significant decrease was observed only in the kidney. In contrast, their hepatic level of Atp7a tended to be higher than in wild-type mice. We speculate that disturbance in the expression of the Atp7a gene and, consequently, change in the copper concentration of the organs, may contribute to the early fatal outcome of mosaic males.