PURPOSES. Sorsby fundus dystrophy (SFD) is a rare, late-onset macular dystrophy caused by mutations in the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-3 (TIMP 3) gene. The known mutations introduce potentially unpaired cysteine residues in the C terminus of the protein and result in the formation of higher-molecular-weight protein complexes of as yet unknown composition and functional consequences in the pathologic course of SFD. To facilitate in vivo investigation of mutant TIMP3, the authors generated a knock-in mouse carrying a disease-related Ser156Cys mutation in the orthologous murine Timp3 gene. METHODS. Site-directed mutagenesis and homologous recombination in embryonic stem (ES) cells was used to generate mutant ES cells carrying the Timp(S156C) allele. Chimeric animals were obtained, of which two displayed germline transmission of the mutated allele. Molecular genetic, biochemical. electron microscopic, and electrodiagnostic techniques were used for characterization. RESULTS. At 8 months of age, knock-in mice showed abnormalities in the inner aspect of Bruch's membrane and in the organization of the adjacent basal microvilli of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Changes resembling those in the mutant animals were also present to some extent in normal litter-mates, but only at an advanced age of 30 months. Long-term electrodiagnostic recordings indicated normal retinal function throughout life. The biochemical characteristics of the mutant protein appear similar in humans and knock-in mice, suggesting common molecular pathways in the two species. The localization of the mutant protein in the eye is normal, although there is evidence of increased Timp3 levels in Bruch's membrane of mutant animals. CONCLUSIONS. The knock-in mice display early features of age-related changes in Bruch's membrane and the RPE that may represent the primary clinical manifestations of SFD. In addition, our immunolabeling studies and biochemical data support a model proposing that site-specific excess rather than absence or deficiency of functional Timp3 may be the primary consequence of the known Timp3 mutations.
|Number of pages
|Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS)
|Published - 1 Aug 2002