Inducible and reversible phenotypes in a novel mouse model of Friedreich's Ataxia

Elife. 2017 Dec 19:6:e30054. doi: 10.7554/eLife.30054.


Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA), the most common inherited ataxia, is caused by recessive mutations that reduce the levels of frataxin (FXN), a mitochondrial iron binding protein. We developed an inducible mouse model of Fxn deficiency that enabled us to control the onset and progression of disease phenotypes by the modulation of Fxn levels. Systemic knockdown of Fxn in adult mice led to multiple phenotypes paralleling those observed in human patients across multiple organ systems. By reversing knockdown after clinical features appear, we were able to determine to what extent observed phenotypes represent reversible cellular dysfunction. Remarkably, upon restoration of near wild-type FXN levels, we observed significant recovery of function, associated pathology and transcriptomic dysregulation even after substantial motor dysfunction and pathology were observed. This model will be of broad utility in therapeutic development and in refining our understanding of the relative contribution of reversible cellular dysfunction at different stages in disease.

Keywords: Friedreich's ataxia; frataxin; human; human biology; medicine; mouse; neurodegeneration; neuroscience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Frataxin
  • Friedreich Ataxia / pathology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Humans
  • Iron-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Iron-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Mice
  • Phenotype*


  • Iron-Binding Proteins

Grants and funding

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.