Perinuclear biogenesis of mutant torsin-A inclusions in cultured cells infected with tetracycline-regulated herpes simplex virus type 1 amplicon vectors

Neuroscience. 2004;125(3):651-61. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2004.01.053.


TorsinA is a novel protein identified in the search for mutations underlying the human neurologic movement disorder, early onset torsion dystonia. Relatively little is understood about the normal function of torsinA or the physiological effects of the codon deletion associated with most cases of disease. Overexpression of wild-type torsinA in cultured cells by DNA transfection results in a reticular distribution of immunoreactive protein that co-localizes with endoplasmic reticulum resident chaperones, while the dystonia-related mutant form accumulates within concentric membrane whorls and nuclear-associated membrane stacks. In this study we examined the biogenesis of mutant torsinA-positive membrane inclusions using tetracycline-regulated herpes simplex virus amplicon vectors. At low expression levels, mutant torsinA was localized predominantly around the nucleus, while at high levels it was also concentrated within cytosolic spheroid inclusions. In contrast, the distribution of wild-type torsinA did not vary, appearing diffuse and reticular at all expression levels. These observations are consistent with descriptions of inducible membrane synthesis in other systems in which cytosolic membrane whorls are derived from multilayered membrane stacks that first form around the nuclear envelope. These results also suggest that formation of mutant torsinA-positive inclusions occurs at high expression levels in culture, whereas the perinuclear accumulation of the mutant protein is present even at low expression levels that are more likely to resemble those of the endogenous protein. These nuclear-associated membrane structures enriched in mutant torsinA may therefore be of greater relevance to understanding how the dystonia-related mutation compromises cellular physiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Cytosol / pathology
  • Dystonia Musculorum Deformans / genetics
  • Dystonia Musculorum Deformans / metabolism
  • Dystonia Musculorum Deformans / physiopathology
  • Genes, Reporter / genetics
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Herpes Simplex / genetics
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / genetics
  • Inclusion Bodies / metabolism*
  • Inclusion Bodies / pathology
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Membranes / pathology
  • Molecular Chaperones / genetics
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nuclear Envelope / metabolism
  • Nuclear Envelope / pathology
  • Organelles / genetics
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • Organelles / pathology
  • Tetracycline / pharmacology
  • Transgenes / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • TOR1A protein, human
  • Tetracycline