Rothmund-Thomson Syndrome-Like RECQL4 Truncating Mutations Cause a Haploinsufficient Low-Bone-Mass Phenotype in Mice [Research Article]

Rothmund-Thomson syndrome (RTS) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by defects in the skeletal system, such as bone hypoplasia, short stature, low bone mass, and an increased incidence of osteosarcoma. RTS type 2 patients have germ line compound biallelic protein-truncating mutations of RECQL4. As existing murine models employ Recql4 null alleles, we have attempted to more accurately model RTS by generating mice with patient-mimicking truncating Recql4 mutations. Truncating mutations impaired the stability and subcellular localization of RECQL4 and resulted in homozygous embryonic lethality and a haploinsufficient low-bone mass phenotype. Combination of a truncating mutation with a conditional Recql4 null allele demonstrated that the skeletal defects were intrinsic to the osteoblast lineage. However, the truncating mutations did not promote tumorigenesis. We utilized murine Recql4 null cells to assess the impact of human RECQL4 mutations using an in vitro complementation assay. While some mutations created unstable protein products, others altered subcellular localization of the protein. Interestingly, the severity of the phenotypes correlated with the extent of protein truncation. Collectively, our results reveal that truncating RECQL4 mutations in mice lead to an osteoporosis-like phenotype through defects in early osteoblast progenitors and identify RECQL4 gene dosage as a novel regulator of bone mass.

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