Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLs) are autosomal-recessive fatal neurodegenerative diseases that occur in children and young adults, with symptoms including ataxia, seizures and visual impairment. We report the discovery of cynomolgus macaques carrying the CLN2/TPP1 variant and our analysis of whether the macaques could be a new non-human primate model for NCL type 2 (CLN2) disease. Three cynomolgus macaques presented progressive neuronal clinical symptoms such as limb tremors and gait disturbance after about 2 years of age. Morphological analyses using brain MRI at the endpoint of approximately 3 years of age revealed marked cerebellar and cerebral atrophy of the gray matter, with sulcus dilation, gyrus thinning, and ventricular enlargement. Histopathological analyses of three affected macaques revealed severe neuronal loss and degeneration in the cerebellar and cerebral cortices, accompanied by glial activation and/or changes in axonal morphology. Neurons observed throughout the central nervous system contained autofluorescent cytoplasmic pigments, which were identified as ceroid-lipofuscin based on staining properties, and the cerebral cortex examined by transmission electron microscopy had curvilinear profiles, the typical ultrastructural pattern of CLN2. These findings are commonly observed in all forms of NCL. DNA sequencing analysis identified a homozygous single-base deletion (c.42delC) of the CLN2/TPP1 gene, resulting in a frameshifted premature stop codon. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that tissue from the affected macaques lacked a detectable signal against TPP1, the product of the CLN2/TPP1 gene. Analysis for transmission of the CLN2/TPP1 mutated gene revealed that 47 (49.5%) and 48 (50.5%) of the 95 individuals genotyped in the CLN2-affected macaque family were heterozygous carriers and homozygous wild-type individuals, respectively. Thus, we identified cynomolgus macaques as a non-human primate model of CLN2 disease. The CLN2 macaques reported here could become a useful resource for research and the development of drugs and methods for treating CLN2 disease, which involves severe symptoms in humans.
Keywords: Batten disease; CLN2 disease; Lysosomal disease; Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis; Non-human primate; cynomolgus macaque.
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