Glycogen storage disease type IV (GSD IV) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder caused by deficiency of the glycogen branching enzyme (GBE). The diagnostic feature of the disease is the accumulation of a poorly branched form of glycogen known as polyglucosan (PG). The disease is clinically heterogeneous, with variable tissue involvement and age of disease onset. Absence of enzyme activity is lethal in utero or in infancy affecting primarily muscle and liver. However, residual enzyme activity (5-20%) leads to juvenile or adult onset of a disorder that primarily affects muscle as well as central and peripheral nervous system. Here, we describe two mouse models of GSD IV that reflect this spectrum of disease. Homologous recombination was used to insert flippase recognition target recombination sites around exon 7 of the Gbe1 gene and a phosphoglycerate kinase-Neomycin cassette within intron 7, leading to a reduced synthesis of GBE. Mice bearing this mutation (Gbe1(neo/neo)) exhibit a phenotype similar to juvenile onset GSD IV, with wide spread accumulation of PG. Meanwhile, FLPe-mediated homozygous deletion of exon 7 completely eliminated GBE activity (Gbe1(-/-)), leading to a phenotype of lethal early onset GSD IV, with significant in utero accumulation of PG. Adult mice with residual GBE exhibit progressive neuromuscular dysfunction and die prematurely. Differently from muscle, PG in liver is a degradable source of glucose and readily depleted by fasting, emphasizing that there are structural and regulatory differences in glycogen metabolism among tissues. Both mouse models recapitulate typical histological and physiological features of two human variants of branching enzyme deficiency.
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