Nephronophthisis (NPHP) is an autosomal recessive kidney disease that is often associated with vision and/or brain defects. To date, 11 genes are known to cause NPHP. The gene products, while structurally unrelated, all localize to cilia or centrosomes. Although mouse models of NPHP are available for 9 of the 11 genes, none has been described for nephronophthisis 4 (Nphp4). Here we report a novel, chemically induced mutant, nmf192, that bears a nonsense mutation in exon 4 of Nphp4. Homozygous mutant Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 mice do not exhibit renal defects, phenotypes observed in human patients bearing mutations in NPHP4, but they do develop severe photoreceptor degeneration and extinguished rod and cone ERG responses by 9 weeks of age. Photoreceptor outer segments (OS) fail to develop properly, and some OS markers mislocalize to the inner segments and outer nuclear layer in the Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 mutant retina. Despite NPHP4 localization to the transition zone in the connecting cilia (CC), the CC appear to be normal in structure and ciliary transport function is partially retained. Likewise, synaptic ribbons develop normally but then rapidly degenerate by P14. Finally, Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 male mutants are sterile and show reduced sperm motility and epididymal sperm counts. Although Nphp4nmf192/nmf192 mice fail to recapitulate the kidney phenotype of NPHP, they will provide a valuable tool to further elucidate how NPHP4 functions in the retina and male reproductive organs.
Journal Article. 8444 words. Illustrated.
Subjects: Genetics and Genomics
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