The lysosomal storage disorder galactosialidosis results from a primary deficiency of the protective protein/cathepsin A (PPCA), which in turn affects the activities of beta-galactosidase and neuraminidase. Mice homozygous for a null mutation at the PPCA locus present with signs of the disease shortly after birth and develop a phenotype closely resembling human patients with galactosialidosis. Most of their tissues show characteristic vacuolation of specific cells, attributable to lysosomal storage. Excessive excretion of sialyloligosaccharides in urine is diagnostic of the disease. Affected mice progressively deteriorate as a consequence of severe organ dysfunction, especially of the kidney. The deficient phenotype can be corrected by transplanting null mutants with bone marrow from a transgenic line overexpressing human PPCA in erythroid precursor cells. The transgenic bone marrow gives a more efficient and complete correction of the visceral organs than normal bone marrow. Our data demonstrate the usefulness of this animal model, very similar to the human disease, for experimenting therapeutic strategies aimed to deliver the functional protein or gene to affected organs. Furthermore, they suggest the feasibility of gene therapy for galactosialidosis and other disorders, using bone marrow cells engineered to overexpress and secrete the correcting lysosomal protein.

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Genes & Development
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Zhou, X.-Y., Morreau, H., Rottier, R., Davis, D., Bonten, E., Gillemans, N., … D' Azzo, A. (1995). Mouse model for the lysosomal disorder galactosialidosis and correction of the phenotype with overexpressing erythroid precursor cells. Genes & Development, 9, 2623–2634. Retrieved from