Intrinsic DNA damage repair deficiency results in progressive microglia loss and replacement

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The DNA excision repair protein Ercc1 is important for nucleotide excision, double strand DNA break, and interstrand DNA crosslink repair. In constitutive Ercc1-knockout mice, microglia display increased phagocytosis, proliferation and an enhanced responsiveness to lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced peripheral inflammation. However, the intrinsic effects of Ercc1-deficiency on microglia are unclear. In this study, Ercc1 was specifically deleted from Cx3cr1-expressing cells and changes in microglia morphology and immune responses at different times after deletion were determined. Microglia numbers were reduced with approximately 50% at 2–12 months after Ercc1 deletion. Larger and more ramified microglia were observed following Ercc1 deletion both in vivo and in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures. Ercc1-deficient microglia were progressively lost, and during this period, microglia proliferation was transiently increased. Ercc1-deficient microglia were gradually replaced by nondeficient microglia carrying a functional Ercc1 allele. In contrast to constitutive Ercc1-deficient mice, microglia-specific deletion of Ercc1 did not induce microglia activation or increase their responsiveness to a systemic LPS challenge. Gene expression analysis suggested that Ercc1 deletion in microglia induced a transient aging signature, which was different from a priming or disease-associated microglia gene expression profile.




Zhang, X., Heng, Y., Kooistra, S. M., van Weering, H. R. J., Brummer, M. L., Gerrits, E., … Eggen, B. J. L. (2021). Intrinsic DNA damage repair deficiency results in progressive microglia loss and replacement. GLIA, 69(3), 729–745.

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