The Long-Evans Agouti (LEA/Tohm) rat has recently been established as a new rat model of type 2 diabetes. The onset of diabetes mellitus was observed only in male LEA/Tohm rats; however, urinary glucose appeared before the onset of diabetes. To clarify the genetic basis of urinary glucose, we performed genetic linkage analysis using (BN × LEA) F 2 intercross progeny. A recessively acting locus responsible for urinary glucose excretion (ugl) was mapped to a 7.9 Mb region of chromosome 10, which contains the cystinosin (Ctns) gene. The Ctns gene encodes the cystine transporter, which transports cystine out of the lysosome and is responsible for nephropathic cystinosis in humans. Sequence analysis identified a 13-bp deletion in the Ctns gene, leading to a truncated and loss-of-function protein, which cause cystine accumulation in various tissues. We also developed a novel congenic rat strain harboring the Ctns ugl mutation on the F344 genetic background. Phenotypic analysis of F344-Ctns ugl rats indicated that the incidence of urinary glucose was 100% in both males and females at around 40 weeks of age, and marked cystine accumulation was observed in the tissues, as well as remarkable renal lesions and cystine crystals in the lysosomes of the renal cortex. Furthermore, treatment with cysteamine depleted the cystine contents in F344-Ctns ugl rat embryonic fibroblasts. These results indicated that the F344-Ctns ugl rat provides a novel rat model of cystinosis, which allows not only a better understanding of the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of cystinosis but will also contribute to the development of new therapies.
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