Mutations in the SNX14 gene cause spinocerebellar ataxia, autosomal recessive 20 (SCAR20) in both humans and dogs. Studies implicating the phenotypic consequences of SNX14 mutations to be consequences of subcellular disruption to autophagy and lipid metabolism have been limited to in vitro investigation of patient-derived dermal fibroblasts, laboratory engineered cell lines and developmental analysis of zebrafish morphants. SNX14 homologues Snz (Drosophila) and Mdm1 (yeast) have also been conducted, demonstrated an important biochemical role during lipid biogenesis. In this study we report the effect of loss of SNX14 in mice, which resulted in embryonic lethality around mid-gestation due to placental pathology that involves severe disruption to syncytiotrophoblast cell differentiation. In contrast to other vertebrates, zebrafish carrying a homozygous, maternal zygotic snx14 genetic loss-of-function mutation were both viable and anatomically normal. Whilst no obvious behavioural effects were observed, elevated levels of neutral lipids and phospholipids resemble previously reported effects on lipid homeostasis in other species. The biochemical role of SNX14 therefore appears largely conserved through evolution while the consequences of loss of function varies between species. Mouse and zebrafish models therefore provide valuable insights into the functional importance of SNX14 with distinct opportunities for investigating its cellular and metabolic function in vivo.
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