Familial neurohypophyseal diabetes insipidus (FNDI) is an autosomal dominant disorder caused by mutations in the arginine vasopressin (AVP) precursor. The pathogenesis of FNDI is proposed to involve mutant protein-induced loss of AVP-producing neurons. We established murine knock-in models of two different naturally occurring human mutations that cause FNDI. A mutation in the AVP signal sequence [A(-1)T] is associated with a relatively mild phenotype or delayed presentation in humans. This mutation caused no apparent phenotype in mice. In contrast, heterozygous mice expressing a mutation that truncates the AVP precursor (C67X) exhibited polyuria and polydipsia by 2 months of age and these features of DI progressively worsened with age. Studies of the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei revealed induction of the chaperone protein BiP and progressive loss of AVP-producing neurons relative to oxytocin-producing neurons. In addition, Avp gene products were not detected in the neuronal projections, suggesting retention of WT and mutant AVP precursors within the cell bodies. In summary, this murine model of FNDI recapitulates many features of the human disorder and demonstrates that expression of the mutant AVP precursor leads to progressive neuronal cell loss.
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