Gaucher disease is caused by mutations in the gene encoding the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase (GC). Three clinical types of Gaucher disease have been defined according to the presence (type 2 and 3) or absence (type 1) of central nervous system disease and severity of clinical manifestations. The clinical course of the disease correlates with the mutation carried by the GC gene. To produce mice with point mutations that correspond to the clinical types of Gaucher disease, we have devised a highly efficient one-step mutagenesis method-the single insertion mutagenesis procedure (SIMP)-to introduce human disease mutations into the mouse GC gene. By using SIMP, mice were generated carrying either the very severe RecNciI mutation that can cause type 2 disease or the less severe L444P mutation associated with type 3 disease. Mice homozygous for the RecNciI mutation had little GC enzyme activity and accumulated glucosylceramide in brain and liver. In contrast, the mice homozygous for the L444P mutation had higher levels of GC activity and no detectable accumulation of glucosylceramide in brain and liver. Surprisingly, both point mutation mice died within 48 hr of birth, apparently of a compromised epidermal permeability barrier caused by defective glucosylceramide metabolism in the epidermis.
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