HGPS (Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome) is a rare genetic disease affecting children causing them to age and die prematurely. The disease is typically due to a point mutation in the coding sequence for the nuclear intermediate-type filament protein lamin A and gives rise to a dominant-negative splice variant named progerin. Accumulation of progerin within nuclei causes disruption to nuclear structure, causes and premature replicative senescence and increases apoptosis. Now it appears that accumulation of progerin may have more widespread effects than previously thought since the demonstration that the presence and distribution of some nucleolar proteins are also adversely affected in progeria cells. One of the major breakthroughs both in the lamin field and for this syndrome is that many of the cellular defects observed in HGPS patient cells and model systems can be restored after treatment with a class of compounds known as FTIs (farnesyltransferase inhibitors). Indeed, it is demonstrated that FTI-277 is able to completely restore nucleolar antigen localization in treated progeria cells. This is encouraging news for the HGPS patients who are currently undergoing clinical trials with FTI treatment.
The laminopathy Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is caused by the mutant lamin A protein progerin and leads to premature aging of affected children. Despite numerous cell biological and biochemical insights into the basis for the cellular abnormalities seen in HGPS, the mechanism linking progerin to the organismal phenotype is not fully understood. To begin to address the mechanism behind HGPS using Drosophila melanogaster , we have ectopically expressed progerin and lamin A. We found that ectopic progerin and lamin A phenocopy several effects of laminopathies in developing and adult Drosophila , but that progerin causes a stronger phenotype than wild-type lamin A.
Rapid interphase chromosome territory repositioning appears to function through the action of nuclear myosin and actin, in a nuclear motor complex. We have found that chromosome repositioning when cells leave the cell cycle is not apparent in cells that have mutant lamin A or that are lacking emerin. We discuss the possibility that there is a functional intranuclear complex comprising four proteins: nuclear actin, lamin A, emerin and nuclear myosin. If any of the components are lacking or aberrant, then the nuclear motor complex involved in moving chromosomes or genes will be dysfunctional, leading to an inability to move chromosomes in response to signalling events.