Molecular Bases of Disease
- Manganese (Mn) is an essential micronutrient required for the normal development of many organs, including the brain. Although its roles as a cofactor in several enzymes and in maintaining optimal physiology are well-known, the overall biological functions of Mn are rather poorly understood. Alterations in body Mn status are associated with altered neuronal physiology and cognition in humans, and either overexposure or (more rarely) insufficiency can cause neurological dysfunction. The resultant balancing act can be viewed as a hormetic U-shaped relationship for biological Mn status and optimal brain health, with changes in the brain leading to physiological effects throughout the body and vice versa.
- SLC30A10 and SLC39A14 are manganese efflux and influx transporters, respectively. Loss-of-function mutations in genes encoding either transporter induce hereditary manganese toxicity. Patients have elevated manganese in the blood and brain and develop neurotoxicity. Liver manganese is increased in patients lacking SLC30A10 but not SLC39A14. These organ-specific changes in manganese were recently recapitulated in knockout mice. Surprisingly, Slc30a10 knockouts also had elevated thyroid manganese and developed hypothyroidism.
- Manganese is an essential metal that becomes toxic at elevated levels. Loss-of-function mutations in SLC30A10, a cell-surface-localized manganese efflux transporter, cause a heritable manganese metabolism disorder resulting in elevated manganese levels and parkinsonian-like movement deficits. The underlying disease mechanisms are unclear; therefore, treatment is challenging. To understand the consequences of loss of SLC30A10 function at the organism level, we generated Slc30a10 knock-out mice. During early development, knock-outs were indistinguishable from controls.