Morc2a p.S87L mutant mice develop peripheral and central neuropathies associated with neuronal DNA damage and apoptosis

Dis Model Mech. 2021 Oct 1;14(10):dmm049123. doi: 10.1242/dmm.049123. Epub 2021 Oct 25.


The microrchidia (MORC)-family CW-type zinc finger 2 (MORC2) gene is related to DNA repair, adipogenesis and epigenetic silencing via the human silencing hub (HUSH) complex. MORC2 missense mutation is known to cause peripheral neuropathy of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2 Z (CMT2Z). However, there have been reports of peripheral and central neuropathy in patients, and the disease has been co-categorized with developmental delay, impaired growth, dysmorphic facies and axonal neuropathy (DIGFAN). The etiology of MORC2 mutation-mediated neuropathy remains uncertain. Here, we established and analyzed Morc2a p.S87L mutant mice. Morc2a p.S87L mice displayed the clinical symptoms expected in human CMT2Z patients, such as axonal neuropathy and skeletal muscle weakness. Notably, we observed severe central neuropathy with cerebella ataxia, cognition disorder and motor neuron degeneration in the spinal cord, and this seemed to be evidence of DIGFAN. Morc2a p.S87L mice exhibited an accumulation of DNA damage in neuronal cells, followed by p53/cytochrome c/caspase 9/caspase 3-mediated apoptosis. This study presents a new mouse model of CMT2Z and DIGFAN with a Morc2a p.S87L mutation. We suggest that neuronal apoptosis is a possible target for therapeutic approach in MORC2 missense mutation. This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.

Keywords: Morc2a; CMT2Z; DIGFAN; Neuronal apoptosis; S87L.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Axons / pathology
  • Base Sequence
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / genetics*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Repair
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Motor Neurons / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscular Atrophy / pathology
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / genetics*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • MORC2 protein, human
  • MORC2 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors