Purdue University Graduate School

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DYRK1A Dynamics: The Influence of Gene Copy Number on Neurodevelopment in the Ts65Dn Mouse Model of Down Syndrome

posted on 2024-06-03, 18:35 authored by Laura E HawleyLaura E Hawley

Down syndrome (DS) arises from the triplication of human chromosome 21 (Hsa21), leading to a spectrum of phenotypes characterized by neurodevelopmental and cognitive abnormalities. The Ts65Dn mouse model emulates DS by harboring three copies of genes found on Hsa21 resulting in trisomy 21 (Ts21)- like traits, including disruptions in neuronal pathways, delays in sensorimotor and behavior milestones, and deficits in learning and memory tasks. There is no cure for DS and available therapies primarily address symptoms stemming from Ts21-associated phenotypes. DYRK1A, a gene triplicated in Ts21, has a pivotal role in pathways of neurodevelopment and has been a focus of inhibition treatment research aimed at preempting abnormal brain phenotypes. This study aimed to find a point of substantial Dyrk1a expression dysregulation during a period of critical neonatal neurodevelopment and employ targeted pharmacological and genetic knockdown methods to alleviate the presence or severity of characteristically abnormal brain and behavior phenotypes. The hypothesis of this study was that administering a targeted intervention prior to a point of known overexpression in trisomic pups would ameliorate molecular, sensorimotor, and neurobehavioral deficits, redirecting growth trajectories of Ts65Dn neonatal pups towards more neurotypical outcomes. To test this hypothesis, the spatiotemporal pattern of DYRK1A expression was quantified during the first three weeks of neonatal development across the hippocampus, cerebral cortex, and cerebellum of the Ts65Dn mouse model and found to fluctuate according to the genotype, age, sex, and brain region of the subject. Dyrk1a protein and mRNA expression levels were delineated in trisomic animals by age, exploring the correlation between expression and age, sex, genotype, and brain region. Next a constitutive Dyrk1a knockdown model was integrated with the Ts65Dn model to investigate the impact of gene copy number reduction on protein and mRNA expression levels during phases of known DYRK1A dysregulation. On postnatal day 6, protein expression was rescued in all three brain regions of male animals but was rescued only in the cerebellum of females. There were no significant differences in mRNA transcript levels in either sex at this age. Finally, genetic elements were introduced into the Ts65Dn model to facilitate a spatiotemporally controlled functional reduction of Dyrk1a and discern how the timing of gene copy number reduction affects molecular and neurobehavioral development in a trisomic system. Results from these studies suggest that only functionally reducing Dyrk1a gene copy number on the day of birth is not sufficient to rescue the majority of deficits and delays present in the Ts65Dn mouse model of DS. These findings significantly enhance the understanding of trisomic Dyrk1a expression dynamics during neonatal development and shed light on tailored therapeutic approaches to modulate intrinsic DS characteristics based on age, sex, and phenotypic considerations.


NIH RO1 AR078663


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Biological Sciences

Campus location

  • Indianapolis

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Randall Roper

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Teri Belecky-Adams

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Theodore Cummins

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Charles Goodlett

Additional Committee Member 5

Dr. Tabitha Hardy

Additional Committee Member 6

Dr. Kathleen Marrs

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