Mutations in the N-myc downstream-regulated gene 1 (NDRG1) can cause degenerative polyneuropathy in humans, dogs, and rodents. In humans, this motor and sensory neuropathy is known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 4D, and it is assumed that analogous canine diseases can be used as models for this disease. NDRG1 is also regarded as a metastasis-suppressor in several malignancies. The tissue distribution of NDRG1 has been described in humans and rodents, but this has not been studied in the dog.
By immunolabeling and Western blotting, we present a detailed mapping of NDRG1 in dog tissues and primary canine Schwann cell cultures, with particular emphasis on peripheral nerves. High levels of phosphorylated NDRG1 appear in distinct subcellular localizations of the Schwann cells, suggesting signaling-driven rerouting of the protein. In a nerve from an Alaskan malamute homozygous for the disease-causing Gly98Val mutation in NDRG1, this signal was absent. Furthermore, NDRG1 is present in canine epithelial cells, predominantly in the cytosolic compartment, often with basolateral localization. Constitutive expression also occurs in mesenchymal cells, including developing spermatids that are transiently positive for NDRG1. In some cells, NDRG1 localize to centrosomes.
Overall, canine NDRG1 shows a cell and context-dependent localization. Our data from peripheral nerves and primary Schwann cell cultures suggest that the subcellular localization of NDRG1 in Schwann cells is dynamically influenced by signaling events leading to reversible phosphorylation of the protein. We propose that disease-causing mutations in NDRG1 can disrupt signaling in myelinating Schwann cells, causing disturbance in myelin homeostasis and axonal-glial cross talk, thereby precipitating polyneuropathy.||