Indexed on: 26 Nov '08Published on: 26 Nov '08Published in: Human molecular genetics
Replication and repair of DNA require equilibrated pools of deoxynucleoside triphosphate precursors. This concept has been proven by in vitro studies over many years, but in vivo models are required to demonstrate its relevance to multicellular organisms and to human diseases. Accordingly, we have generated thymidine phosphorylase (TP) and uridine phosphorylase (UP) double knockout (TP(-/-)UP(-/-)) mice, which show severe TP deficiency, increased thymidine and deoxyuridine in tissues and elevated mitochondrial deoxythymidine triphosphate. As consequences of the nucleotide pool imbalances, brains of mutant mice developed partial depletion of mtDNA, deficiencies of respiratory chain complexes and encephalopathy. These findings largely account for the pathogenesis of mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy (MNGIE), the first inherited human disorder of nucleoside metabolism associated with somatic DNA instability.