Mutations in human copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause an inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, motor neuron disease). Insoluble forms of mutant SOD1 accumulate in neural tissues of human ALS patients and in spinal cords of transgenic mice expressing these polypeptides, suggesting that SOD1-linked ALS is a protein misfolding disorder. Understanding the molecular basis for how the pathogenic mutations give rise to SOD1 folding intermediates, which may themselves be toxic, is therefore of keen interest. A critical step on the SOD1 folding pathway occurs when the copper chaperone for SOD1 (CCS) modifies the nascent SOD1 polypeptide by inserting the catalytic copper cofactor and oxidizing its intrasubunit disulfide bond. Recent studies reveal that pathogenic SOD1 proteins coming from cultured cells and from the spinal cords of transgenic mice tend to be metal-deficient and/or lacking the disulfide bond, raising the possibility that the disease-causing mutations may enhance levels of SOD1-folding intermediates by preventing or hindering CCS-mediated SOD1 maturation. This mini-review explores this hypothesis by highlighting the structural and biophysical properties of the pathogenic SOD1 mutants in the context of what is currently known about CCS structure and action. Other hypotheses as to the nature of toxicity inherent in pathogenic SOD1 proteins are not covered.
superoxide dismutase; SOD1; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neuron disease; protein misfolding; protein aggregation; protofibrils; amyloid
Many mutations confer upon copper/zinc superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) one or more toxic function(s) that impair motor neuron viability and cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS). Using a conformation-specific antibody that detects misfolded SOD1 (C4F6), we demonstrate that oxidized WT-SOD1 and mutant-SOD1 share a conformational epitope that is not present in normal WT-SOD1. In a subset of human sporadic ALS (SALS) cases, motor neurons in the lumbosacral spinal cord displayed striking C4F6 immunoreactivity, denoting the presence of aberrant WT-SOD1 species. Recombinant, oxidized WT-SOD1 and WT-SOD1 immunopurified from SALS tissues inhibited kinesin-based fast axonal transport in a manner similar to FALS-linked mutant SOD1. Studies here suggest that WT-SOD1 can be pathogenic in SALS and identifies an SOD1-dependent pathogenic mechanism common to FALS and SALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), partly caused by the mutations and aggregation of human copper, zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1), is a fatal degenerative disease of motor neurons. Because SOD1 is a major copper-binding protein present at relatively high concentration in motor neurons and copper can be a harmful pro-oxidant, we want to know whether aberrant copper biochemistry could underlie ALS pathogenesis. In this study, we have investigated and compared the effects of cupric ions on the aggregation of ALS-associated SOD1 mutant A4V and oxidized wild-type SOD1.
As revealed by 90° light scattering, dynamic light scattering, SDS-PAGE, and atomic force microscopy, free cupric ions in solution not only induce the oxidation of either apo A4V or Zn2-A4V and trigger the oligomerization and aggregation of oxidized A4V under copper-mediated oxidative conditions, but also trigger the aggregation of non-oxidized form of such a pathogenic mutant. As evidenced by mass spectrometry and SDS-PAGE, Cys-111 is a primary target for oxidative modification of pathological human SOD1 mutant A4V by either excess Cu2+ or hydrogen peroxide. The results from isothermal titration calorimetry show that A4V possesses two sets of independent binding sites for Cu2+: a moderate-affinity site (106 M-1) and a high-affinity site (108 M-1). Furthermore, Cu2+ binds to wild-type SOD1 oxidized by hydrogen peroxide in a way similar to A4V, triggering the aggregation of such an oxidized form.
We demonstrate that excess cupric ions induce the oxidation and trigger the aggregation of A4V SOD1, and suggest that Cu2+ plays a key role in the mechanism of aggregation of both A4V and oxidized wild-type SOD1. A plausible model for how pathological SOD1 mutants aggregate in ALS-affected motor neurons with the disruption of copper homeostasis has been provided.
Approximately10% of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have familial ALS (FALS), and 20% of FALS is caused by mutant Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase type 1 (MTSOD1). Previous studies have convincingly demonstrated that MTSOD1 expression in other cell types besides motor neurons (MNs) contributes to disease in MTSOD1 FALS transgenic mice. Using Cre/LoxP methods, we knocked down G85R SOD1 mRNA by 66% in all cell types in 3-month-old FALS transgenic mice, delaying disease onset and lengthening disease duration. Surprisingly, the effect on onset and early disease duration was similar to that seen with ~25% knockdown prenatally in G85R SOD1 mRNA restricted to MNs and some interneurons in FALS transgenic mice. These results demonstrate no clear cumulative effect on disease onset or early disease duration from knocking down G85R SOD1 in other cell types in addition to MNs/interneurons; the findings bring up the possibility that MTSOD1 has a pathogenic effect early in life that our later knockdown did not affect. Despite the more limited amelioration of disease than expected, the effect of the knockdown on disease supports the value of this approach in FALS patients and asymptomatic individuals with SOD1 mutations.
familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS); ALS; superoxide dismutase type 1 (SOD1); motor neuron; neurodegeneration
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal adult-onset neurodegenerative disease that causes degeneration of motor neurons and paralysis. Approximately 20% of familial ALS cases have been linked to mutations in the copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene but it is unclear how mutations in the protein result in motor neuron degeneration. Transgenic (tg) mice expressing mutated forms of human SOD1 (hSOD1) develop clinical and pathological features similar to those of ALS. We used tg mice expressing hSOD1-G93A, hSOD1-G37R, and hSOD1-wild type to investigate a new subcellular pathology involving mutant hSOD1 protein prominently localizing to the nuclear compartment and disruption of the architecture of nuclear gems. We developed methods for extracting relatively pure cell nucleus fractions from mouse CNS tissues and demonstrate low nuclear presence of endogenous SOD1 in mouse brain and spinal cord, but prominent nuclear accumulation of hSOD1-G93A, -G37R and -wild type in tg mice. hSOD1 concentrated in nuclei of spinal cord cells, particularly motor neurons, at a young age. The survival motor neuron protein (SMN) complex is disrupted in motor neuron nuclei prior to disease onset in hSOD1-G93A and -G37R mice; age-matched hSOD1-wild type mice did not show SMN disruption despite a nuclear presence. Our data suggest new mechanisms involving hSOD1 accumulation in the cell nucleus and mutant hSOD1-specific perturbations in SMN localization with disruption of the nuclear SMN complex in the ALS model mice and suggest overlap of pathogenic mechanisms with spinal muscular atrophy.
Cajal body; Gemin 1; Nuclear gems; Snurportin; Spinal muscular atrophy
Transport of material and signals between extensive neuronal processes and the cell body is essential to neuronal physiology and survival. Slowing of axonal transport has been shown to occur before the onset of symptoms in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We have previously shown that several familial ALS-linked copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) mutants (A4V, G85R and G93A) interacted and co-localized with the retrograde dynein-dynactin motor complex in cultured cells and affected tissues of ALS mice. We also found that the interaction between mutant SOD1 and the dynein motor played a critical role in the formation of large inclusions containing mutant SOD1. In this study, we showed that, in contrast to the dynein situation, mutant SOD1 did not interact with anterograde transport motors of the kinesin-1 family (KIF5A, B and C). Using dynein and kinesin accumulation at the sciatic nerve ligation sites as a surrogate measurement of axonal transport, we also showed that dynein mediated retrograde transport was slower in G93A than in WT mice at an early pre-symptomatic stage. While no decrease in KIF5A-mediated anterograde transport was detected, the anterograde transport of dynein heavy chain as a cargo was observed in the pre-symptomatic G93A mice. The results from this study along with other recently published work support that mutant SOD1 might only interact with and interfere with some kinesin members which in turn could result in the impairment of a selective subset of cargos. Although it remains to be further investigated how mutant SOD1 affect different axonal transport motor proteins and various cargos, it is evident that mutant SOD1 can induce defects in axonal transport, which subsequently contribute to the propagation of toxic effects and ultimately motor neuron death in ALS.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; copper-zinc superoxide dismutase; axonal transport; kinesin; dynein
The transgenic animals with mutant copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) DNA develop paralytic motor neuron disease resembling human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients and are commonly used as models for ALS. In the transgenic (Tg) mice with the G93A mutation of the human SOD1 gene SOD1G93A mice), the loss of ventral root axons and the synapses between the muscles and the motor neurons suggested that the motor neuron degeneration might proceed in a dying-back degeneration pattern. To reveal the relationship between axonal degeneration and the progression of the muscle atrophy in the SOD1G93A mice, we investigated the status of the neuromuscular junction along the disease progression. As a presynaptic or postsynaptic marker of neuromuscular junction (NMJ), anti-synaptic vesicle protein 2 (anti-SV2) antibody and α-bungarotoxin (α-BuTX) were chosen in this study and, as a marker of synaptic cleft, anti-agrin antibody was chosen in this study. In the immunohistochemistry of α-BuTX and anti-SV2 antibody, the percentages of double positive NMJs among α-BuTX single positive were decreased in Tg mice through time from ten weeks. The number of postsynaptic acethylcholine receptor (AChR) clusters did not decrease in Tg mice even at the end stage. Immunohistochemistry of α-BuTX and anti-agrin antibody revealed that the increase of immunopositive area of anti-agrin antibody around the muscle fiber in Tg mice from ten weeks of age. In this study, we revealed that the detachment of nerve terminals started at ten weeks in Tg mice. The levels of AChR did not change throughout 5–20 weeks of age in both groups of mice, and AChR remains clustering at NMJs, suggesting that the muscle abnormality is the result of detachment of nerve terminals.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; neuromuscular junction; α-bungarotoxin; SV-2; agrin.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a motor neuron disease that leads to
loss of motor function and early death. About 5% of cases are inherited, with
the majority of identified linkages in the gene encoding copper,
zinc-superoxide dismutase (SOD1). Strong evidence indicates that the SOD1
mutations confer dominant toxicity on the protein. To provide new insight into
mechanisms of ALS, we have generated and characterized a model for familial
ALS in Drosophila with transgenic expression of human SOD1.
Expression of wild type or disease-linked (A4V, G85R) mutants of human SOD1
selectively in motor neurons induced progressive climbing deficits. These
effects were accompanied by defective neural circuit electrophysiology, focal
accumulation of human SOD1 protein in motor neurons, and a stress response in
surrounding glia. However, toxicity was not associated with oligomerization of
SOD1 and did not lead to neuronal loss. These studies uncover cell-autonomous
injury by SOD1 to motor neurons in vivo, as well as non-autonomous
effects on glia, and provide the foundation for new insight into injury and
protection of motor neurons in ALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an age-dependent neurodegenerative disease that causes motor neuron degeneration, paralysis and death. Mutations in Cu, Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) are one cause for the familial form of this disease. Transgenic mice expressing mutant SOD1 develop age-dependent motor neuron degeneration, skeletal muscle weakness, paralysis and death similar to humans. The mechanism whereby mutant SOD1 induces motor neuron degeneration is not understood but widespread mitochondrial vacuolation has been observed during early phases of motor neuron degeneration. How this vacuolation develops is not clear, but could involve autophagic vacuolation, mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT) or uncharacterized mechanisms. To determine which of these possibilities are true, we examined the vacuolar patterns in detail in transgenic mice expressing mutant SOD1G93A.
Vacuolar patterns revealed by electron microscopy (EM) suggest that vacuoles originate from the expansion of the mitochondrial intermembrane space and extension of the outer mitochondrial membrane. Immunofluorescence microscopy and immuno-gold electron microscopy reveal that vacuoles are bounded by SOD1 and mitochondrial outer membrane markers, but the inner mitochondrial membrane marker is located in focal areas inside the vacuoles. Small vacuoles contain cytochrome c while large vacuoles are porous and lack cytochrome c. Vacuoles lack lysosomal signal but contain abundant peroxisomes and SOD1 aggregates.
These findings demonstrate that mutant SOD1, possibly by toxicity associated with its aggregation, causes mitochondrial degeneration by inducing extension and leakage of the outer mitochondrial membrane, and expansion of the intermembrane space. This could release the pro-cell death molecules normally residing in the intermembrane space and initiate motor neuron degeneration. This Mitochondrial Vacuolation by Intermembrane Space Expansion (MVISE) fits neither MPT nor autophagic vacuolation mechanisms, and thus, is a previously uncharacterized mechanism of mitochondrial degeneration in mammalian CNS.
A subset of superoxide dismutase 1 (Cu/Zn-SOD1) mutants that cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) have heightened reactivity with −ONOO and H2O2 in vitro. This reactivity requires a copper ion bound in the active site and is a suggested mechanism of motor neuron injury. However, we have found that transgenic mice that express SOD1-H46R/H48Q, which combines natural FALS mutations at ligands for copper and which is inactive, develop motor neuron disease. Using a direct radioactive copper incorporation assay in transfected cells and the established tools of single crystal x-ray diffraction, we now demonstrate that this variant does not stably bind copper. We find that single mutations at copper ligands, including H46R, H48Q, and a quadruple mutant H46R/H48Q/H63G/H120G, also diminish the binding of radioactive copper. Further, using native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and a yeast two-hybrid assay, the binding of copper was found to be related to the formation of the stable dimeric enzyme. Collectively, our data demonstrate a relationship between copper and assembly of SOD1 into stable dimers and also define disease-causing SOD1 mutants that are unlikely to robustly produce toxic radicals via copper-mediated chemistry.
In the 16 years since mutations to copper, zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) were first linked to familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a multitude of apparently contradictory results have prevented any general consensus to emerge about the mechanism of toxicity. A decade ago, we showed that the loss of zinc from SOD1 results in the remaining copper in SOD1 to become extremely toxic to motor neurons in culture by a mechanism requiring nitric oxide. The loss of zinc causes SOD1 to become more accessible, more redox reactive, and a better catalyst of tyrosine nitration. Although SOD1 mutant proteins have a modestly reduced affinity for zinc, wild-type SOD1 can be induced to lose zinc by dialysis at slightly acidic pH. Our zinc-deficient hypothesis offers a compelling explanation for how mutant SOD1s have an increased propensity to become selectively toxic to motor neurons and also explains how wild-type SOD1 can be toxic in nonfamilial ALS patients. One critical prediction is that a therapeutic agent directed at zinc-deficient mutant SOD1 could be even more effective in treating sporadic ALS patients. Although transgenic mice experiments have yielded contradictory evidence to the zinc-deficient hypothesis, we will review more recent studies that support a role for copper in ALS. A more careful examination of the role of copper and zinc binding to SOD1 may help counter the growing disillusion in the ALS field about understanding the pathological role of SOD1. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 11, 1627–1639.
Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase (Cu,Zn SOD) is one of several anti-oxidant enzymes which defend the cell against damage by oxygen free radicals. Mutations of the SOD1 gene encoding Cu,Zn SOD are found familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive and fatal paralytic disease which is caused by the death of motor neurons in cortex, brainstem and spinal cord. The disease can be reproduced in transgenic mice by expression of mutant human Cu,Zn SOD. Recent studies both in vitro and in vivo suggest that the effect of mutation is to enhance the generation of oxygen radicals by the mutant enzyme. Thus, mutation converts a protective, antioxidant enzyme into a destructive pro-oxidant form which catalyzes free radical damage to which motor neurons are uniquely vulnerable.
Activation of the transcription factor Nrf2 in astrocytes coordinates the up-regulation of antioxidant defenses and confers protection to neighboring neurons. Dominant mutations in Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal disorder characterized by the progressive loss of motor neurons. Non-neuronal cells, including astrocytes, shape motor neuron survival in ALS and are a potential target to prevent motor neuron degeneration. The protective effect of Nrf2 activation in astrocytes has never been examined in a chronic model of neurodegeneration. We generated transgenic mice over-expressing Nrf2 selectively in astrocytes using the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) promoter. The toxicity of astrocytes expressing ALS-linked mutant hSOD1 to co-cultured motor neurons was reversed by Nrf2 over-expression. Motor neuron protection depended on increased glutathione secretion from astrocytes. This protective effect was also observed by crossing the GFAP-Nrf2 mice with two ALS-mouse models. Over-expression of Nrf2 in astrocytes significantly delayed onset and extended survival. These findings demonstrate that Nrf2 activation in astrocytes is a viable therapeutic target to prevent chronic neurodegeneration.
Nrf2; astrocytes; glutathione; motor neurons
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease of motor neurons (MNs). The molecular pathogenesis of ALS is not understood, thus effective therapies for this disease are lacking. Some forms of ALS are inherited by mutations in the superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) gene. Transgenic mice expressing human Gly93 → Ala (G93A) mutant SOD1 (mSOD1) develop severe MN disease, oxidative and nitrative damage, and mitochondrial pathology that appears to involve nitric oxide-mediated mechanisms. We used G93A-mSOD1 mice to test the hypothesis that the degeneration of MNs is associated with an aberrant up-regulation of the inducible form of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS or NOS2) activity within MNs. Western blotting and immunoprecipitation showed that iNOS protein levels in mitochondrial-enriched membrane fractions of spinal cord are increased significantly in mSOD1 mice at pre-symptomatic stages of disease. The catalytic activity of iNOS was also increased significantly in mitochondrial-enriched membrane fractions of mSOD1 mouse spinal cord at pre-symptomatic stages of disease. Reverse transcription-PCR showed that iNOS mRNA was present in the spinal cord and brainstem MN regions in mice and was increased in pre-symptomatic and early symptomatic mice. Immunohistochemistry showed that iNOS immunoreactivty was up-regulated first in spinal cord and brainstem MNs in pre-symptomatic and early symptomatic mice and then later in the course of disease in numerous microglia and few astrocytes. iNOS accumulated in the mitochondria in mSOD1 mouse MNs. iNOS immunoreactivity was also up-regulated in Schwann cells of peripheral nerves and was enriched particularly at the paranodal regions of the nodes of Ranvier. Drug inhibitors of iNOS delayed disease onset and significantly extended the lifespan of G93A-mSOD1 mice. This work identifies two new potential early mechanisms for MN degeneration in mouse ALS involving iNOS at MN mitochondria and Schwann cells and suggests that therapies targeting iNOS might be beneficial in treating human ALS.
Apoptosis-necrosis cell death continuum; Mitochondrial permeability transition pore; Mutant SOD1; Nitration; Node of Ranvier; Schwann cell
BACKGROUND: Mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration are actively sought for new therapeutic strategies. Transgenic, knockout and genetic mouse models greatly aid our understanding of the mechanisms for neuronal cell death. A naturally occurring, autosomal recessive mutant, known as wobbler, and mice transgenic for familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) superoxide dismutase (SOD)1 mutations are available, but the molecular mechanisms remain equally unknown. Both phenotypes are detectable after birth. Wobbler is detectable in the third week of life, when homozygotes (wr/wr) exhibit prominent gliosis and significant motor neuron loss in the cervical, but not in lumbar, spinal cord segments. To address molecular mechanisms, we evaluated "death signals" associated with the multifunctional serine protease, thrombin, which leads to apoptotic motor neuronal cell death in culture by cleavage of a G-protein coupled, protease-activated receptor 1 (PAR-1). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thrombin activities were determined with chromogenic substrate assays, Western immunoblots and immunohistochemistry were performed with anti-PAR-1 to observe localizations of the receptor and anti-GFAP staining was used to monitor astrocytosis. PAR-1 mRNA levels and locations were determined by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and in situ hybridizations. Cell death was monitored with in situ DNA fragmentation assays. RESULTS: In preliminary studies we found a 5-fold increase in PAR-1 mRNA in cervical spinal cords from wr/wr, compared with wild-type (wt) littermates. Our current studies suggested that reactive astrocytosis and motor neuron cell death were causally linked with alterations in thrombin signaling. PAR-1 protein expression was increased, as demonstrated by immunocytochemistry and confirmed with in situ hybridization, in phenotypic wr/wr motor neurons, compared with wt, but not in astrocytes. This increase was much greater in cervical, compared with lumbar, segments, paralleling motor neuron degeneration. We also found, using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) with RNA from genotyped embryos, that PAR-1 was already increased in wr/wr cords at E12, the earliest time examined. CONCLUSIONS: Thus, motor neuron degeneration and death follows PAR-1 expression both temporally and topographically in wobbler mice. Since our culture studies show that thrombin mobilized [Ca2+]i by activating PAR-1, eventually leading to motor neuron apoptosis, up-regulation of PAR-1 during development may contribute both to "appropriate" as well as "inappropriate" neuronal death in wobbler.
An in vitro familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) model was established from human ESCs overexpressing either a wild-type or a mutant SOD1 (G93A) gene, and the phenotypes and survival of the spinal motor neurons were evaluated. This model is expected to help unravel the disease mechanisms involved in the development of FALS and also lead to potential drug discoveries based on the prevention of neurodegeneration.
The generation of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease models is an important subject for investigating disease mechanisms and pharmaceutical applications. In transgenic mice, expression of a mutant form of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) can lead to the development of ALS that closely mimics the familial type of ALS (FALS). Although SOD1 mutant mice show phenotypes similar to FALS, dissimilar drug responses and size differences limit their usefulness to study the disease mechanism(s) and identify potential therapeutic compounds. Development of an in vitro model system for ALS is expected to help in obtaining novel insights into disease mechanisms and discovery of therapeutics. We report the establishment of an in vitro FALS model from human embryonic stem cells overexpressing either a wild-type (WT) or a mutant SOD1 (G93A) gene and the evaluation of the phenotypes and survival of the spinal motor neurons (sMNs), which are the neurons affected in ALS patients. The in vitro FALS model that we developed mimics the in vivo human ALS disease in terms of the following: (a) selective degeneration of sMNs expressing the G93A SOD1 but not those expressing the WT gene; (b) susceptibility of G93A SOD1-derived sMNs to form ubiquitinated inclusions; (c) astrocyte-derived factor(s) in the selective degeneration of G93A SOD1 sMNs; and (d) cell-autonomous, as well as non-cell-autonomous, dependent sMN degeneration. Thus, this model is expected to help unravel the disease mechanisms involved in the development of FALS and also lead to potential drug discoveries based on the prevention of neurodegeneration.
Embryonic stem cells; Experimental models; Neuron; Astrocytes
We sought genetic evidence for involvement of neuronal vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Mice expressing human ALS mutant superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) were crossed with mice that overexpress VEGF in neurons (VEGF+/+). We report that SOD1G93A/VEGF+/+ double-transgenic mice show delayed motor neuron loss, delayed motor impairment and prolonged survival compared to SOD1G93A single-transgenics. These findings indicate that neuronal VEGF protects against motor neuron degeneration, and may have therapeutic implications for ALS.
vascular endothelial growth factor; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neuron; superoxide dismutase-1; transgenic; neurodegeneration
Mutations in Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS), a rapidly fatal motor neuron disease. Mutant SOD1 has pleiotropic toxic effects on motor neurons, among which mitochondrial dysfunction has been proposed as one of the contributing factors in motor neuron demise. Mitochondria are highly dynamic in neurons; they are constantly reshaped by fusion and move along neurites to localize at sites of high-energy utilization, such as synapses. The finding of abnormal mitochondria accumulation in neuromuscular junctions, where the SOD1-FALS degenerative process is though to initiate, suggests that impaired mitochondrial dynamics in motor neurons may be involved in pathogenesis. We addressed this hypothesis by live imaging microscopy of photo-switchable fluorescent mitoDendra in transgenic rat motor neurons expressing mutant or wild type human SOD1. We demonstrate that mutant SOD1 motor neurons have impaired mitochondrial fusion in axons and cell bodies. Mitochondria also display selective impairment of retrograde axonal transport, with reduced frequency and velocity of movements. Fusion and transport defects are associated with smaller mitochondrial size, decreased mitochondrial density, and defective mitochondrial membrane potential. Furthermore, mislocalization of mitochondria at synapses among motor neurons, in vitro, correlates with abnormal synaptic number, structure, and function. Dynamics abnormalities are specific to mutant SOD1 motor neuron mitochondria, since they are absent in wild type SOD1 motor neurons, they do not involve other organelles, and they are not found in cortical neurons. Taken together, these results suggest that impaired mitochondrial dynamics may contribute to the selective degeneration of motor neurons in SOD1-FALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common variant of motor neurone disease affecting adults that usually strikes during mid to late life. Its aetiology is still poorly understood, although a major breakthrough came with the discovery that mutations in the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene affect approximately 20% of patients with familial ALS. Experiments using both transgenic mice and ALS tissues have been useful in delineating other genetic defects in ALS. However, because only a subset of cases can be attributed to one particular molecular defect (such as mutation of SOD1 or the gene encoding neurofilament H), the aetiology of ALS is likely to be multifactorial. This review discusses the major mechanisms of neurodegeneration in ALS, such as oxidative stress, glutaminergic excitotoxicity, damage to vital organelles, and aberrant protein aggregation.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neurone disease; neurodegeneration
A subset of patients of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) present with mutation of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), and such mutants caused an ALS-like disorder when expressed in rodents. These findings implicated SOD1 in ALS pathogenesis and made the transgenic animals a widely used ALS model. However, previous studies of these animals have focused largely on motor neuron damage. We report herein that the spinal cords of mice expressing a human SOD1 mutant (hSOD1-G93A), besides showing typical destruction of motor neurons and axons, exhibit significant damage in the sensory system, including Wallerian-like degeneration in axons of dorsal root and dorsal funiculus, and mitochondrial damage in dorsal root ganglia neurons. Thus, hSOD1-G93A mutation causes both motor and sensory neuropathies, and as such the disease developed in the transgenic mice very closely resembles human ALS.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; mutation; nerve degeneration; spinal cord; spinal nerve roots; superoxide dismutase 1
Superoxide dismutases (SOD) are important anti-oxidant enzymes that guard against superoxide toxicity. Various SOD enzymes have been characterized that employ either a copper, manganese, iron or nickel co-factor to carry out the disproportionation of superoxide. This review focuses on the copper and manganese forms, with particular emphasis on how the metal is inserted in vivo into the active site of SOD. Copper and manganese SODs diverge greatly in sequence and also in the metal insertion process. The intracellular copper SODs of eukaryotes (SOD1) can obtain copper post-translationally, by way of interactions with the CCS copper chaperone. CCS also oxidizes an intrasubunit disulfide in SOD1. Adventitious oxidation of the disulfide can lead to gross misfolding of immature forms of SOD1, particularly with SOD1 mutants linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In the case of mitochondrial MnSOD of eukaryotes (SOD2), metal insertion cannot occur post-translationally, but requires new synthesis and mitochondrial import of the SOD2 polypeptide. SOD2 can also bind iron in vivo, but is inactive with iron. Such metal ion mis-incorporation with SOD2 can become prevalent upon disruption of mitochondrial metal homeostasis. Accurate and regulated metallation of copper and manganese SOD molecules is vital to cell survival in an oxygenated environment.
Copper; Manganese; Iron; Mitochondria; ALS; Superoxide dismutase; SOD; CCS; Copper chaperone; Posttranslational modification; Disulfide isomerase; SOD1; SOD2; EC-SOD
Motor axon degeneration is a critical but poorly understood event leading to weakness and muscle atrophy in motor neuron diseases. Here, we investigated oxidative stress-mediated axonal degeneration in mice lacking the antioxidant enzyme, Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1). We demonstrate a progressive motor axonopathy in these mice and show that Sod1−/− primary motor neurons extend short axons in vitro with reduced mitochondrial density. Sod1−/− neurons also show oxidation of mitochondrial—but not cytosolic—thioredoxin, suggesting that loss of SOD1 causes preferential oxidative stress in mitochondria, a primary source of superoxide in cells. SOD1 is widely regarded as the cytosolic isoform of superoxide dismutase, but is also found in the mitochondrial intermembrane space. The functional significance of SOD1 in the intermembrane space is unknown. We used a transgenic approach to express SOD1 exclusively in the intermembrane space and found that mitochondrial SOD1 is sufficient to prevent biochemical and morphological defects in the Sod1−/− model, and to rescue the motor phenotype of these mice when followed to 12 months of age. These results suggest that SOD1 in the mitochondrial intermembrane space is fundamental for motor axon maintenance, and implicate oxidative damage initiated at mitochondrial sites in the pathogenesis of motor axon degeneration.
SOD; axon; neuromuscular junction; motor neuron disease; mitochondria
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the selective loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord, brain stem, and motor cortex. Mutations in superoxide dismutase (SOD1) are associated with familial ALS and lead to SOD1 protein misfolding and aggregation. Here we show that the molecular chaperone, HSJ1 (DNAJB2), mutations in which cause distal hereditary motor neuropathy, can reduce mutant SOD1 aggregation and improve motor neuron survival in mutant SOD1 models of ALS. Overexpression of human HSJ1a (hHSJ1a) in vivo in motor neurons of SOD1G93A transgenic mice ameliorated disease. In particular, there was a significant improvement in muscle force, increased motor unit number and enhanced motor neuron survival. hHSJ1a was present in a complex with SOD1G93A and led to reduced SOD1 aggregation at late stages of disease progression. We also observed altered ubiquitin immunoreactivity in the double transgenic animals, suggesting that ubiquitin modification might be important for the observed improvements. In a cell model of SOD1G93A aggregation, HSJ1a preferentially bound to mutant SOD1, enhanced SOD1 ubiquitylation and reduced SOD1 aggregation in a J-domain and ubiquitin interaction motif (UIM) dependent manner. Collectively, the data suggest that HSJ1a acts on mutant SOD1 through a combination of chaperone, co-chaperone and pro-ubiquitylation activity. These results show that targeting SOD1 protein misfolding and aggregation in vivo can be neuroprotective and suggest that manipulation of DnaJ molecular chaperones might be useful in the treatment of ALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is primarily a motor neuron disorder. Intriguingly, early muscle denervation preceding motor neuron loss is observed in mouse models of ALS. Enhanced muscle vulnerability to denervation process has been suggested by accelerated muscle deterioration following peripheral nerve injury in an ALS mouse model. Here we provide evidence of biochemical changes in the hindlimb muscle of young, presymptomatic G93A hSOD1 transgenic mice. In this report, we demonstrate that cdk5 activity is reduced in hindlimb muscle of 27-day-old G93A hSOD1 transgenic mice. In vitro analysis revealed mutant hSOD1-mediated suppression of cdk5 activity. Furthermore, the decrease in muscle cdk5 activity was accompanied by a significant reduction in MyoD and cyclin D1 levels. These early muscle changes raise the possibility that the progressive deterioration of muscle function is potentiated by altered muscle biochemistry in these mice at a very young, presymptomatic age.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALS; cyclin-dependent kinase 5; cdk5; G93A hSOD1; transgenic mice; muscle; MyoD; cyclin D1; presymptomatic
Background: The mechanism by which astrocytes contribute to disease progression in mutant SOD1 mouse models of ALS is not known.
Results: Mutant SOD1 astrocytes release mutant SOD1-containing exosomes that are toxic for motor neurons.
Conclusion: Astrocyte-derived exosomes may have a role in disease spreading and motor neuron pathology.
Significance: New therapeutic approaches should target exosomes to contain disease progression.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is the most common motor neuron disease and is still incurable. The mechanisms leading to the selective motor neuron vulnerability are still not known. The interplay between motor neurons and astrocytes is crucial in the outcome of the disease. We show that mutant copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) overexpression in primary astrocyte cultures is associated with decreased levels of proteins involved in secretory pathways. This is linked to a general reduction of total secreted proteins, except for specific enrichment in a number of proteins in the media, such as mutant SOD1 and valosin-containing protein (VCP)/p97. Because there was also an increase in exosome release, we can deduce that astrocytes expressing mutant SOD1 activate unconventional secretory pathways, possibly as a protective mechanism. This may help limit the formation of intracellular aggregates and overcome mutant SOD1 toxicity. We also found that astrocyte-derived exosomes efficiently transfer mutant SOD1 to spinal neurons and induce selective motor neuron death. We conclude that the expression of mutant SOD1 has a substantial impact on astrocyte protein secretion pathways, contributing to motor neuron pathology and disease spread.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease); Astrocytes; Exosomes; Proteomics; Superoxide Dismutase (SOD); Disease Spreading