Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are a group of genetically heterogeneous neurodegenerative conditions. They are characterized by progressive spastic paralysis of the legs as a result of selective, lengthdependent degeneration of the axons of the corticospinal tract. Mutations in 3 genes encoding proteins that work together to shape the ER into sheets and tubules - receptor accessory protein 1 (REEP1), atlastin-1 (ATL1), and spastin (SPAST) - have been found to underlie many cases of HSP in Northern Europe and North America. Applying Sanger and exome sequencing, we have now identified 3 mutations in reticulon 2 (RTN2), which encodes a member of the reticulon family of prototypic ER-shaping proteins, in families with spastic paraplegia 12 (SPG12). These autosomal dominant mutations included a complete deletion of RTN2 and a frameshift mutation predicted to produce a highly truncated protein. Wild-type reticulon 2, but not the truncated protein potentially encoded by the frameshift allele, localized to the ER. RTN2 interacted with spastin, and this interaction required a hydrophobic region in spastin that is involved in ER localization and that is predicted to form a curvature-inducing/sensing hairpin loop domain. Our results directly implicate a reticulon protein in axonopathy, show that this protein participates in a network of interactions among HSP proteins involved in ER shaping, and further support the hypothesis that abnormal ER morphogenesis is a pathogenic mechanism in HSP.
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