The RSH/Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (RSH/SLOS) is a human autosomal recessive syndrome characterized by multiple malformations, a distinct behavioral phenotype with autistic features and mental retardation. RSH/SLOS is due to an inborn error of cholesterol biosynthesis caused by mutation of the 3β-hydroxysterol Δ7-reductase gene. To further our understanding of the developmental and neurological processes that underlie the pathophysiology of this disorder, we have developed a mouse model of RSH/SLOS by disruption of the 3β-hydroxysterol Δ7-reductase gene. Here we provide the biochemical, phenotypic and neurophysiological characterization of this genetic mouse model. As in human patients, the RSH/SLOS mouse has a marked reduction of serum and tissue cholesterol levels and a marked increase of serum and tissue 7-dehydrocholesterol levels. Phenotypic similarities between this mouse model and the human syndrome include intra-uterine growth retardation, variable craniofacial anomalies including cleft palate, poor feeding with an uncoordinated suck, hypotonia and decreased movement. Neurophysiological studies showed that although the response of frontal cortex neurons to the neurotransmitter γ-amino-n-butyric acid was normal, the response of these same neurons to glutamate was significantly impaired. This finding provides insight into potential mechanisms underlying the neurological dysfunction seen in this human mental retardation syndrome and suggests that this mouse model will allow the testing of potential therapeutic interventions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology