Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is the most common genetic motoneuron degenerative disorder, but the mechanism(s) of motoneuron death is unclear. Previously, a direct interaction between tumor-suppressive TP53 protein and the SMA determinant gene product, survival motor neuron protein, was identified and therefore it has been suggested that a mechanism of TP53-dependent apoptosis plays an important role in motoneuron degeneration in SMA. We used our SMA model mice, generated by a combination of knockout and transgenic techniques, to decipher the role of TP53 protein in the motoneuron degeneration in SMA. We detected a significant increase of Trp53 expression in the spinal cord of SMA-like mice compared to their normal littermates. After crossing SMA-like mice with Trp53 knockout mice, the progeny Trp53-deficient SMA-like mice did not show milder disease severity or longer lifespan compared to SMA littermates with wild-type Trp53 genes. Our studies provide in vivo evidence indicating that Trp53-dependent apoptosis does not play a crucial role in motoneuron degeneration in SMA-like mice.
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