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Mouse models of the G(M2) gangliosidoses, Tay-Sachs and Sandhoff disease, are null for the hexosaminidase alpha and beta subunits respectively. The Sandhoff (Hexb-/-) mouse has severe neurological disease and mimics the human infantile onset variant. However, the Tay-Sachs (Hexa-/-) mouse model lacks an overt phenotype as mice can partially bypass the blocked catabolic pathway and escape disease. We have investigated whether a subset of Tay-Sachs mice develop late onset disease. We have found that approximately 65% of the mice develop one or more clinical signs of the disease within their natural life span (n = 52, P < 0.0001). However, 100% of female mice with repeat breeding histories developed late onset disease at an earlier age (n = 21, P < 0.0001) and displayed all clinical features. Repeat breeding of a large cohort of female Tay-Sachs mice confirmed that pregnancy induces late onset Tay-Sachs disease. Onset of symptoms correlated with reduced up-regulation of hexosaminidase B, a component of the bypass pathway.


Journal article


Neurobiol Dis

Publication Date





201 - 210


Age of Onset, Animals, Brain, Disease Models, Animal, Female, G(M2) Ganglioside, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Mutant Strains, Muscle, Skeletal, Phenotype, Pregnancy, Tay-Sachs Disease