Pathologic and phenotypic alterations in a mouse expressing a connexin47 missense mutation that causes pelizaeus-merzbacher-like disease in humans


  • O. Tress
  • M. Maglione
  • A. Zlomuzica
  • D. May
  • N. Dicke
  • J. Degen
  • E. Dere
  • H. Kettenmann
  • D. Hartmann
  • K. Willecke


  • PLoS Genetics


  • PLoS Genet 7 (7): e1002146


  • Gap junction channels are intercellular conduits that allow diffusional exchange of ions, second messengers, and metabolites. Human oligodendrocytes express the gap junction protein connexin47 (Cx47), which is encoded by the GJC2 gene. The autosomal recessive mutation hCx47M283T causes Pelizaeus-Merzbacher-like disease 1 (PMLD1), a progressive leukodystrophy characterized by hypomyelination, retarded motor development, nystagmus, and spasticity. We introduced the human missense mutation into the orthologous position of the mouse Gjc2 gene and inserted the mCx47M282T coding sequence into the mouse genome via homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells. Three-week-old homozygous Cx47M282T mice displayed impaired rotarod performance but unchanged open-field behavior. 10-15-day-old homozygous Cx47M282T and Cx47 null mice revealed a more than 80% reduction in the number of cells participating in glial networks after biocytin injections into oligodendrocytes in sections of corpus callosum. Homozygous expression of mCx47M282T resulted in reduced MBP expression and astrogliosis in the cerebellum of ten-day-old mice which could also be detected in Cx47 null mice of the same age. Three-month-old homozygous Cx47M282T mice exhibited neither altered open-field behavior nor impaired rotarod performance anymore. Adult mCx47M282T expressing mice did not show substantial myelin alterations, but homozygous Cx47M282T mice, additionally deprived of connexin32, which is also expressed in oligodendrocytes, died within six weeks after birth and displayed severe myelin defects accompanied by astrogliosis and activated microglia. These results strongly suggest that PMLD1 is caused by the loss of Cx47 channel function that results in impaired panglial coupling in white matter tissue.