Aberrant Purkinje cell activity is the cause of dystonia in a shRNA-based mouse model of Rapid Onset Dystonia-Parkinsonism

Rachel Fremont, Ambika Tewari, Kamran Khodakhah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Loss-of-function mutations in the α3 isoform of the sodium pump are responsible for Rapid Onset Dystonia-Parkinsonism (RDP). A pharmacologic model of RDP replicates the most salient features of RDP, and implicates both the cerebellum and basal ganglia in the disorder; dystonia is associated with aberrant cerebellar output, and the parkinsonism-like features are attributable to the basal ganglia. The pharmacologic agent used to generate the model, ouabain, is selective for sodium pumps. However, close to the infusion sites in vivo it likely affects all sodium pump isoforms. Therefore, it remains to be established whether selective loss of α3-containing sodium pumps replicates the pharmacologic model. Moreover, while the pharmacologic model suggested that aberrant firing of Purkinje cells was the main cause of abnormal cerebellar output, it did not allow the scrutiny of this hypothesis. To address these questions RNA interference using small hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) delivered via adeno-associated viruses (AAV) was used to specifically knockdown α3-containing sodium pumps in different regions of the adult mouse brain. Knockdown of the α3-containing sodium pumps mimicked both the behavioral and electrophysiological changes seen in the pharmacologic model of RDP, recapitulating key aspects of the human disorder. Further, we found that knockdown of the α3 isoform altered the intrinsic pacemaking of Purkinje cells, but not the neurons of the deep cerebellar nuclei. Therefore, acute knockdown of proteins associated with inherited dystonias may be a good strategy for developing phenotypic genetic mouse models where traditional transgenic models have failed to produce symptomatic mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-212
Number of pages13
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Animal model
  • Cerebellum
  • Dystonia
  • Rapid Onset Dystonia Parkinsonism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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