Neurofibromin is essential to maintain metabolic function and sustain life in the adult mouse
The consequences of pathogenic variants in the NF1 gene can manifest in numerous tissues as a result of loss of neurofibromin protein function(s). A known function of NF1 is negative regulation of p21ras signaling via a GTPase activating (Ras-GAP) domain. Besides modulation of Ras signaling as a tumor suppressor, other functions of this multi-domain protein are less clear. Biallelic inactivation of NF1 leads to an embryonic lethal phenotype, while neurofibromin is expressed at varying levels in
... t varying levels in most tissues beyond developmental stages. Taking advantage of the mouse genetics toolkit, we established novel tamoxifen-inducible systemic knockout Nf1 mouse models (C57BL/6) to gain a better understanding of the role of Nf1 in the adult (3-4 months) mouse. Following inactivation of floxed Nf1 alleles, adult CAGGCre-ER TM ;Nf1 4F/4F mice lose function of Nf1 systemically. Both male and female animals do not survive beyond 11 days post-tamoxifen induction and exhibit histological changes in multiple tissues. During this acute crisis, CAGGCre-ER TM ;Nf1 4F/4F mice are not able to maintain body temperature or body mass, and expend all adipose tissue; however, they continue to consume food and absorb calories comparable to littermate-paired controls. Targeted metabolite analyses and indirect calorimetry studies revealed altered fat metabolism, amino acid metabolism and energy expenditure, with animals undergoing metabolic crisis and torpor-like states. Thermoneutral conditions accelerated the acute, lethal phenotype coincident with lower food intake. This study reveals that systemic loss of neurofibromin in the adult mouse induces metabolic dysfunction and lethality, thus highlighting potential functions of this multi-domain protein in addition to tumor suppression.