Autosomal recessive mutations in the ALS2 gene have been linked to juvenile-onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS2), primary lateral sclerosis and juvenile-onset ascending hereditary spastic paraplegia. Except for two recently identified missense mutations, all other mutations in the ALS2 gene lead to a premature stop codon and likely abrogate all the potential functions of alsin, the protein encoded by the ALS2 gene. To study the pathologic mechanisms of ALS2 deficiency, four different lines of ALS2 knockout (ALS2–/–) mice have been generated by independent groups. The loss of ALS2/alsin does not have a drastic effect on the survival or function of motor neurons in mice. However, subtle deficits observed in the behavior and pathology of these mice have aided in our understanding of the relationship between alsin and motor neuron dysfunction. In this review, we summarize and reconcile major findings of ALS2–/– mice and attempt to place these results within the larger context of modeling recessive movement disorders in mice.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALS2; Alsin; Knockout mice; Mouse model; Guanine nucleotide exchange factor; Primary lateral sclerosis; Hereditary spastic paraplegia
Autosomal recessive mutations in the ALS2 gene have been linked to juvenile-onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS2), primary lateral sclerosis and juvenile-onset ascending hereditary spastic paraplegia. Except for two recently identified missense mutations, all other mutations in the ALS2 gene lead to a premature stop codon and likely abrogate all the potential functions of alsin, the protein encoded by the ALS2 gene. To study the pathologic mechanisms of ALS2 deficiency, four different lines of ALS2 knockout (ALS2−/−) mice have been generated by independent groups. The loss of ALS2/alsin does not have a drastic effect on the survival or function of motor neurons in mice. However, subtle deficits observed in the behavior and pathology of these mice have aided in our understanding of the relationship between alsin and motor neuron dysfunction. In this review, we summarize and reconcile major findings of ALS2−/− mice and attempt to place these results within the larger context of modeling recessive movement disorders in mice.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALS2; Alsin; Knockout mice; Mouse model; Guanine nucleotide exchange factor; Primary lateral sclerosis; Hereditary spastic paraplegia
Autosomal recessive mutations in the ALS2 gene lead to a clinical spectrum of motor dysfunction including juvenile onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS2), primary lateral sclerosis, and hereditary spastic paraplegia. The 184-kDa alsin protein, encoded by the full-length ALS2 gene, contains three different guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor-like domains, which may play a role in the etiology of the disease. Multiple in vitro biochemical and cell biology assays suggest that alsin dysfunction affects endosome trafficking through a Rab5 small GTPase family-mediated mechanism. Four ALS2-deficient mouse models have been generated by different groups and used to study the behavioral and pathological impact of alsin deficiency. These mouse models largely fail to recapitulate hallmarks of motor neuron disease, but the subtle deficits that are observed in behavior and pathology have aided in our understanding of the relationship between alsin and motor dysfunction. In this review, we summarize recent clinical and molecular reports regarding alsin and attempt to place these results within the larger context of motor neuron disease.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); ALS2; Alsin; Rab5; Mouse model; Guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor; Primary lateral sclerosis; Hereditary spastic paraplegia
Dysfunction of alsin, particularly its putative Rab5 guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor activity, has been linked to one form of juvenile onset recessive familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS2). Multiple lines of alsin knockout (ALS2-/-) mice have been generated to model this disease. However, it remains elusive whether the Rab5-dependent endocytosis is altered in ALS2-/- neurons. To directly examine the Rab5-mediated endosomal trafficking in ALS2-/- neurons, we introduced green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged Rab5 into cultured hippocampal neurons to monitor the morphology and motility of Rab5-associated early endosomes. Here we report that Rab5-mediated endocytosis was severely altered in ALS2-/-neurons. Excessive accumulation of Rab5-positive vesicles was observed in ALS2-/- neurons, which correlated with a significant reduction in endosomal motility and augmentation in endosomal conversion to lysosomes. Consequently, a significant increase in endosome/lysosome-dependent degradation of internalized glutamate receptors was observed in ALS2-/- neurons. These phenotypes closely resembled the endosomal trafficking abnormalities induced by a constitutively active form of Rab5 in wild-type neurons. Therefore, our findings reveal a negatively regulatory mechanism of alsin in Rab5-mediated endosomal trafficking, suggesting that enhanced endosomal degradation in ALS2-/- neurons may underlie the pathogenesis of motor neuron degeneration in ALS2 and related motor neuron diseases.
ALS2/alsin is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the small GTPase Rab5 and involved in macropinocytosis-associated endosome fusion and trafficking, and neurite outgrowth. ALS2 deficiency accounts for a number of juvenile recessive motor neuron diseases (MNDs). Recently, it has been shown that ALS2 plays a role in neuroprotection against MND-associated pathological insults, such as toxicity induced by mutant Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1). However, molecular mechanisms underlying the relationship between ALS2-associated cellular function and its neuroprotective role remain unclear.
To address this issue, we investigated the molecular and pathological basis for the phenotypic modification of mutant SOD1-expressing mice by ALS2 loss. Genetic ablation of Als2 in SOD1H46R, but not SOD1G93A, transgenic mice aggravated the mutant SOD1-associated disease symptoms such as body weight loss and motor dysfunction, leading to the earlier death. Light and electron microscopic examinations revealed the presence of degenerating and/or swollen spinal axons accumulating granular aggregates and autophagosome-like vesicles in early- and even pre-symptomatic SOD1H46R mice. Further, enhanced accumulation of insoluble high molecular weight SOD1, poly-ubiquitinated proteins, and macroautophagy-associated proteins such as polyubiquitin-binding protein p62/SQSTM1 and a lipidated form of light chain 3 (LC3-II), emerged in ALS2-deficient SOD1H46R mice. Intriguingly, ALS2 was colocalized with LC3 and p62, and partly with SOD1 on autophagosome/endosome hybrid compartments, and loss of ALS2 significantly lowered the lysosome-dependent clearance of LC3 and p62 in cultured cells.
Based on these observations, although molecular basis for the distinctive susceptibilities to ALS2 loss in different mutant SOD1-expressing ALS models is still elusive, disturbance of the endolysosomal system by ALS2 loss may exacerbate the SOD1H46R-mediated neurotoxicity by accelerating the accumulation of immature vesicles and misfolded proteins in the spinal cord. We propose that ALS2 is implicated in endolysosomal trafficking through the fusion between endosomes and autophagosomes, thereby regulating endolysosomal protein degradation in vivo.
In addition to the loss of spinal motor neurons, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is also associated with degeneration of corticospinal layer V pyramidal neurons and decreased glutamate transport in the cortex. We characterized the glutamate receptors on corticospinal neurons in acutely isolated rat motor cortex slices and found that the synaptic inputs to the corticospinal layer V neurons had a lesser proportional contribution from NMDA receptors relative to AMPA receptors than did layer II/III pyramidal neurons. The synaptic IAMPA was also more inwardly rectified, indicating a greater Ca2+-permeable component, in layer V. In a cortical organotypic slice culture model, blockade of glutamate transporters elevated glutamate in the media and led to pyramidal neuron loss in both layers. The loss of layer V pyramidal neurons was attenuated by antagonists of AMPA/kainate or Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors, suggesting their therapeutic potential in the protection of the motor cortex in ALS.
Several lines of evidence point to alterations of α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA) receptor trafficking in schizophrenia. Multiple proteins, including Synapse Associated Protein 97 (SAP97), Glutamate Receptor Interacting Protein 1 (GRIP1), and N-ethylmaleimide Sensitive Factor (NSF), facilitate the forward trafficking of AMPA receptors toward the synapse. Once localized to the synapse, AMPA receptors are trafficked in a complex endosomal system. We hypothesized that alterations in the expression of these proteins and alterations in the subcellular localization of AMPA receptors in endosomes may contribute to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Accordingly, we measured protein expression of SAP97, GRIP1, and NSF in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and found an increase in the expression of SAP97 and GRIP1 in schizophrenia. To determine the subcellular localization of AMPA receptor subunits, we developed a technique to isolate early endosomes from postmortem tissue. We found increased GluR1 receptor subunit protein in early endosomes in subjects with schizophrenia. Together, these data suggest that there is an alteration of forward trafficking of AMPA receptors as well as changes in the subcellular localization of an AMPA receptor subunit in schizophrenia.
schizophrenia; endosome; EEA1; AMPA trafficking; postmortem
Several lines of evidence point to alterations of α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA) receptor trafficking in schizophrenia. Multiple proteins, including synapse-associated protein 97 (SAP97), glutamate receptor-interacting protein 1 (GRIP1), and N-ethylmaleimide sensitive factor (NSF), facilitate the forward trafficking of AMPA receptors toward the synapse. Once localized to the synapse, AMPA receptors are trafficked in a complex endosomal system. We hypothesized that alterations in the expression of these proteins and alterations in the subcellular localization of AMPA receptors in endosomes may contribute to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Accordingly, we measured protein expression of SAP97, GRIP1, and NSF in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and found an increase in the expression of SAP97 and GRIP1 in schizophrenia. To determine the subcellular localization of AMPA receptor subunits, we developed a technique to isolate early endosomes from post-mortem tissue. We found increased GluR1 receptor subunit protein in early endosomes in subjects with schizophrenia. Together, these data suggest that there is an alteration of forward trafficking of AMPA receptors as well as changes in the subcellular localization of an AMPA receptor subunit in schizophrenia.
schizophrenia; endosome; EEA1; AMPA trafficking; post mortem; schizophrenia; antipsychotics; glutamate; molecular and cellular neurobiology; signal transduction; schizophrenia; endosome; AMPA trafficking; post mortem
Dysfunction of the ALS2 gene has been linked to one form of juvenile onset autosomal recessive amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Previous in vitro studies suggest that over-expression of ALS2 protects cells from mutant Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1)-induced cytotoxicity. To test whether ALS2 plays a protective role against mutant SOD1-mediated motor neuron degeneration in vivo, we examined the progression of motor neuron disease in SOD1G93A mice on an ALS2 null background. Our data suggest that deficiency in the ALS2 gene does not affect the pathogenesis of SOD1G93A mice.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); ALS2; Alsin; SOD1; SOD1G93A mice
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common motor neuron disease, is caused by a selective loss of motor neurons in the CNS. Mutations in the ALS2 gene have been linked to one form of autosomal recessive juvenile onset ALS (ALS2). To investigate the pathogenic mechanisms of ALS2, we generated ALS2 knock-out (ALS2−/−) mice. Although ALS2−/− mice lacked obvious developmental abnormalities, they exhibited age-dependent deficits in motor coordination and motor learning. Moreover, ALS2−/− mice showed a higher anxiety response in the open-field and elevated plus-maze tasks. Although they failed to recapitulate clinical or neuropathological phenotypes consistent with motor neuron disease by 20 months of age, ALS2−/− mice or primary cultured neurons derived from these mice were more susceptible to oxidative stress compared with wild-type controls. These observations suggest that loss of ALS2 function is insufficient to cause major motor deficits or motor neuron degeneration in a mouse model but predisposes neurons to oxidative stress.
ALS2; knock-out mouse; motor neuron; motor coordination; motor learning; oxidative stress
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal disorder characterized by the progressive loss of motor neurons. Although the molecular mechanism underlying motor neuron degeneration remains unknown, non-neuronal cells, including astrocytes, shape motor neuron survival in ALS. Astrocytes closely interact with neurons to provide an optimized environment for neuronal function and respond to all forms of injury in a typical manner known as reactive astrogliosis. A strong reactive astrogliosis surrounds degenerating motor neurons in ALS patients and ALS-animal models. While reactive astrogliosis in ALS is probably both primary and secondary to motor neuron degeneration, astrocytes are not passive observers and can influence motor neuron fate. Due to the important functions that astrocytes perform in the central nervous system, it is of key importance to understand how these functions are altered when astrocytes become reactive in ALS. Here, we review the current evidences supporting a potential toxic role of astrocytes and their viability as therapeutic targets to alter motor neuron degeneration in ALS.
astrogliosis; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; excitotoxicity; oxidative stress; death receptors; glutathione
The potent neuroprotective activities of neurotrophic factors, including insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), make them promising candidates for treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In an effort to maximize rate of motor neuron transduction, achieve high levels of spinal IGF-1, and thus enhance therapeutic benefit, we injected an adeno-associated virus 2 (AAV2)-based vector encoding human IGF-1 (CERE-130) into lumbar spinal cord parenchyma of SOD1G93A mice. We observed robust and long-term intraspinal IGF-1 expression and partial rescue of lumbar spinal cord motor neurons, as well as sex-specific delayed disease onset, weight loss, decline in hindlimb grip strength and increased animal survival.
Adeno; associated virus; insulin; like growth factor 1; gene therapy; neurodegeneration; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; neuroprotection
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive degenerative disease affecting upper and lower motor neurons. Symptom onset may occur in the muscles of the limbs (spinal onset) or those of the head and neck (bulbar onset). Bulbar involvement is particularly important in ALS as it is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. The purpose of this study was to characterize bulbar motor deficits in the SOD1-G93A mouse model of familial ALS. We measured orolingual motor function by placing thirsty mice in a customized operant chamber that allows for measurement of tongue force and lick rhythm as animals lick water from an isometric disc. Testing spanned the pre-symptomatic, symptomatic, and end-stage segments of the disease. Rotarod performance, fore- and hindlimb grip strength, and locomotor activity were also monitored regularly during this period. We found that spinal involvement was apparent first, with both fore- and hindlimb grip strength being affected in SOD1-G93A mice from the onset of testing (64 days of age). Rotarod performance was affected by 71 days of age. Locomotor activity was not affected, even near end-stage. Bulbar involvement appeared much later, with tongue motility being affected by 100 days of age. Tongue force was affected by 115 days of age. To our knowledge, these findings are the first to describe the onset of bulbar v. spinal motor signs and characterize orolingual motor deficits in this preclinical model of ALS.
familial ALS; G1H; bulbar; tongue; operant behavioral task; grip strength
Abnormal TDP-43 aggregation is a prominent feature in the neuropathology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Mutations in TARDBP, the gene encoding TDP-43, cause some cases of ALS. The normal function of TDP-43 remains incompletely understood. To better understand TDP-43 biology, we generated mutant mice carrying a genetrap disruption of Tardbp. Mice homozygous for loss of TDP-43 are not viable. TDP-43 deficient embryos die about day 7.5 of embryonic development thereby demonstrating that TDP-43 protein is essential for normal prenatal development and survival. However, heterozygous Tardbp mutant mice exhibit signs of motor disturbance and muscle weakness. Compared with wild type control littermates, Tardbp+/− animals have significantly decreased forelimb grip strength and display deficits in a standard inverted grid test despite no evidence of pathologic changes in motor neurons. Thus, TDP-43 is essential for viability, and mild reduction in TDP-43 function is sufficient to cause motor deficits without degeneration of motor neurons.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase cause a subset of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and provoke progressive paralysis when expressed in mice. After retrograde transport to the spinal cord following injection into muscles, an adeno-associated virus carrying a gene that encodes a small interfering RNA was shown to target superoxide dismutase messenger RNA for degradation. The corresponding decrease in mutant superoxide dismutase in spinal motor neurons preserved grip strength. This finding provides proof of principle for the selective reduction of any neuronal protein and supports intramuscular injections of a small interfering RNA–encoding virus as a viable therapy for this type of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common adult-onset motor neuron disease. More than 90% of ALS cases are sporadic, and the majority of sporadic ALS patients do not carry mutations in genes causative of familial ALS; therefore, investigation specifically targeting sporadic ALS is needed to discover the pathogenesis. The motor neurons of sporadic ALS patients express unedited GluA2 mRNA at the Q/R site in a disease-specific and motor neuron-selective manner. GluA2 is a subunit of the AMPA receptor, and it has a regulatory role in the Ca2+-permeability of the AMPA receptor after the genomic Q codon is replaced with the R codon in mRNA by adenosine–inosine conversion, which is mediated by adenosine deaminase acting on RNA 2 (ADAR2). Therefore, ADAR2 activity may not be sufficient to edit all GluA2 mRNA expressed in the motor neurons of ALS patients. To investigate whether deficient ADAR2 activity plays pathogenic roles in sporadic ALS, we generated genetically modified mice (AR2) in which the ADAR2 gene was conditionally knocked out in the motor neurons. AR2 mice showed an ALS-like phenotype with the death of ADAR2-lacking motor neurons. Notably, the motor neurons deficient in ADAR2 survived when they expressed only edited GluA2 in AR2/GluR-BR/R (AR2res) mice, in which the endogenous GluA2 alleles were replaced by the GluR-BR allele that encoded edited GluA2. In heterozygous AR2 mice with only one ADAR2 allele, approximately 20% of the spinal motor neurons expressed unedited GluA2 and underwent degeneration, indicating that half-normal ADAR2 activity is not sufficient to edit all GluA2 expressed in motor neurons. It is likely therefore that the expression of unedited GluA2 causes the death of motor neurons in sporadic ALS. We hypothesize that a progressive downregulation of ADAR2 activity plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of sporadic ALS and that the pathological process commences when motor neurons express unedited GluA2.
ADAR2; RNA editing; GluA2; Q/R site; ALS; neuronal death; AMPA
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurological disorder characterized by selective degeneration of motor neurons throughout the central nervous systems. Non-cell autonomous damage induced by glial cells is linked to the selective susceptibility of motor neurons in ALS but the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are not known. We found the expression of non-phosphorylated and phosphorylated forms (tyrosine residue 905, 1016, and 1062) of c-Ret, a member of the glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) receptor, are altered in motor neurons of the lumbar spinal cord in ALS transgenic (G93A) mice and ALS (G93A) cell line models. Phosphorylated forms of c-Ret were colocalized with neurofilament aggregates in motor neurons of ALS mice. Consistent with the in vivo data, levels of non-phosphorylated and phosphorylated c-Ret (Tyr 905, 1016, and 1062) were decreased by oxidative stress in motor neuronal cells (NSC-34). Non-phosphorylated and phosphorylated forms of c-Ret immunoreactivity were markedly elevated in active microglia of ALS mice. Our findings suggest that constitutive oxidative stress modulates c-Ret function, thereby reducing GDNF signaling in motor neurons. Furthermore, the induction of c-Ret expression in microglia may contribute to non-cell autonomous cell death of motor neurons by depriving available GDNF in ALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; c-Ret; glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor; motor neuron; microglia; astrocyte
Excitotoxicity is thought to play a pathogenic role in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Excitotoxic motor neuron death is mediated through the Ca2+-permeable AMPA-type of glutamate receptors and Ca2+ permeability is determined by the GluR2 subunit. We investigated whether polymorphisms or mutations in the GluR2 gene (GRIA2) predispose patients to ALS. Upon sequencing 24 patients and 24 controls no non-synonymous coding variants were observed but 24 polymorphisms were identified, 9 of which were novel. In a screening set of 310 Belgian ALS cases and 794 healthy controls and a replication set of 3,157 cases and 5,397 controls from 6 additional populations no association with susceptibility, age at onset or disease duration was observed. We conclude that polymorphisms in the GluR2 gene (GRIA2) are not a major contributory factor in the pathogenesis of ALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; excitotoxicity; GluR2; motor neuron
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the selective loss of motor neurons. Recent studies have implicated that chronic hypoxia and insufficient vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-dependent neuroprotection may lead to the degeneration of motor neurons in ALS. Expression of apelin, an endogenous ligand for the G protein-coupled receptor APJ, is regulated by hypoxia. In addition, recent reports suggest that apelin protects neurons against glutamate-induced excitotoxicity. Here, we examined whether apelin is an endogenous neuroprotective factor using SOD1G93A mouse model of ALS. In mouse CNS tissues, the highest expressions of both apelin and APJ mRNAs were detected in spinal cord. APJ immunoreactivity was observed in neuronal cell bodies located in gray matter of spinal cord. Although apelin mRNA expression in the spinal cord of wild-type mice was not changed from 4 to 18 weeks age, that of SOD1G93A mice was reduced along with the paralytic phenotype. In addition, double mutant apelin-deficient and SOD1G93A displayed the disease phenotypes earlier than SOD1G93A littermates. Immunohistochemical observation revealed that the number of motor neurons was decreased and microglia were activated in the spinal cord of the double mutant mice, indicating that apelin deficiency pathologically accelerated the progression of ALS. Furthermore, we showed that apelin enhanced the protective effect of VEGF on H2O2-induced neuronal death in primary neurons. These results suggest that apelin/APJ system in the spinal cord has a neuroprotective effect against the pathogenesis of ALS.
Different somatic motor neuron subpopulations show a differential vulnerability to degeneration in diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy and spinobulbar muscular atrophy. Studies in mutant superoxide dismutase 1 over-expressing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis model mice indicate that initiation of disease is intrinsic to motor neurons, while progression is promoted by astrocytes and microglia. Therefore, analysis of the normal transcriptional profile of motor neurons displaying differential vulnerability to degeneration in motor neuron disease could give important clues to the mechanisms of relative vulnerability. Global gene expression profiling of motor neurons isolated by laser capture microdissection from three anatomical nuclei of the normal rat, oculomotor/trochlear (cranial nerve 3/4), hypoglossal (cranial nerve 12) and lateral motor column of the cervical spinal cord, displaying differential vulnerability to degeneration in motor neuron disorders, identified enriched transcripts for each neuronal subpopulation. There were striking differences in the regulation of genes involved in endoplasmatic reticulum and mitochondrial function, ubiquitination, apoptosis regulation, nitrogen metabolism, calcium regulation, transport, growth and RNA processing; cellular pathways that have been implicated in motor neuron diseases. Confirmation of genes of immediate biological interest identified differential localization of insulin-like growth factor II, guanine deaminase, peripherin, early growth response 1, soluble guanylate cyclase 1A3 and placental growth factor protein. Furthermore, the cranial nerve 3/4-restricted genes insulin-like growth factor II and guanine deaminase protected spinal motor neurons from glutamate-induced toxicity (P < 0.001, ANOVA), indicating that our approach can identify factors that protect or make neurons more susceptible to degeneration.
motor neuron; SOD1G93A rat; microarray; hierarchical clustering; cranial nerves; cervical spinal cord; IGF-II
Motor neurons typically have very long axons, and fine-tuning axonal transport is crucial for their survival. The obstruction of axonal transport is gaining attention as a cause of neuronal dysfunction in a variety of neurodegenerative motor neuron diseases. Depletions in dynein and dynactin-1, motor molecules regulating axonal trafficking, disrupt axonal transport in flies, and mutations in their genes cause motor neuron degeneration in humans and rodents. Axonal transport defects are among the early molecular events leading to neurodegeneration in mouse models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Gene expression profiles indicate that dynactin-1 mRNA is downregulated in degenerating spinal motor neurons of autopsied patients with sporadic ALS. Dynactin-1 mRNA is also reduced in the affected neurons of a mouse model of spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, a motor neuron disease caused by triplet CAG repeat expansion in the gene encoding the androgen receptor. Pathogenic androgen receptor proteins also inhibit kinesin-1 microtubule-binding activity and disrupt anterograde axonal transport by activating c-Jun N-terminal kinase. Disruption of axonal transport also underlies the pathogenesis of spinal muscular atrophy and hereditary spastic paraplegias. These observations suggest that the impairment of axonal transport is a key event in the pathological processes of motor neuron degeneration and an important target of therapy development for motor neuron diseases.
axonal transport; dynactin-1; dynein; kinesin; neurofilament; motor neuron; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy; spinal muscular atrophy; hereditary spastic paraplegia
The mutation of the spatacsin gene is the single most common cause of autosomal recessive hereditary spastic paraplegia with thin corpus callosum. Common clinical, pathological and genetic features between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and hereditary spastic paraplegia motivated us to investigate 25 families with autosomal recessive juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and long-term survival for mutations in the spatascin gene. The inclusion criterion was a diagnosis of clinically definite amyotrophic lateral sclerosis according to the revised El Escorial criteria. The exclusion criterion was a diagnosis of hereditary spastic paraplegia with thin corpus callosum in line with an established protocol. Additional pathological and genetic evaluations were also performed. Surprisingly, 12 sequence alterations in the spatacsin gene (one of which is novel, IVS30 + 1 G > A) were identified in 10 unrelated pedigrees with autosomal recessive juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and long-term survival. The countries of origin of these families were Italy, Brazil, Canada, Japan and Turkey. The variants seemed to be pathogenic since they co-segregated with the disease in all pedigrees, were absent in controls and were associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis neuropathology in one member of one of these families for whom central nervous system tissue was available. Our study indicates that mutations in the spatascin gene could cause a much wider spectrum of clinical features than previously recognized, including autosomal recessive juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; hereditary spastic paraplegia; mutations; spatacsin
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the selective loss of motor neurons (MN) in the brain stem and spinal cord. Intracellular disruptions of cytosolic and mitochondrial calcium have been associated with selective MN degeneration, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. The present evidence supports a hypothesis that mitochondria are a target of mutant SOD1-mediated toxicity in familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS) and intracellular alterations of cytosolic and mitochondrial calcium might aggravate the course of this neurodegenerative disease. In this study, we used a fluorescence charged cool device (CCD) imaging system to separate and simultaneously monitor cytosolic and mitochondrial calcium concentrations in individual cells in an established cellular model of ALS.
To gain insights into the molecular mechanisms of SOD1G93A associated motor neuron disease, we simultaneously monitored cytosolic and mitochondrial calcium concentrations in individual cells. Voltage – dependent cytosolic Ca2+ elevations and mitochondria – controlled calcium release mechanisms were monitored after loading cells with fluorescent dyes fura-2 and rhod-2. Interestingly, comparable voltage-dependent cytosolic Ca2+ elevations in WT (SH-SY5YWT) and G93A (SH-SY5YG93A) expressing cells were observed. In contrast, mitochondrial intracellular Ca2+ release responses evoked by bath application of the mitochondrial toxin FCCP were significantly smaller in G93A expressing cells, suggesting impaired calcium stores. Pharmacological experiments further supported the concept that the presence of G93A severely disrupts mitochondrial Ca2+ regulation.
In this study, by fluorescence measurement of cytosolic calcium and using simultaneous [Ca2+]i and [Ca2+]mito measurements, we are able to separate and simultaneously monitor cytosolic and mitochondrial calcium concentrations in individual cells an established cellular model of ALS. The primary goals of this paper are (1) method development, and (2) screening for deficits in mutant cells on the single cell level. On the technological level, our method promises to serve as a valuable tool to identify mitochondrial and Ca2+-related defects during G93A-mediated MN degeneration. In addition, our experiments support a model where a specialized interplay between cytosolic calcium profiles and mitochondrial mechanisms contribute to the selective degeneration of neurons in ALS.
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.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult-onset neurodegenerative disease caused by selective loss of motor neurons. In the ALS motor neurons, TAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43) is dislocated from the nucleus to cytoplasm and forms inclusions, suggesting that loss of a nuclear function of TDP-43 may underlie the pathogenesis of ALS. TDP-43 functions in RNA metabolism include regulation of transcription, mRNA stability, and alternative splicing of pre-mRNA. However, a function of TDP-43 in tissue affected with ALS has not been elucidated. We sought to identify the molecular indicators reflecting on a TDP-43 function. Using exon array analysis, we observed a remarkable alteration of splicing in the polymerase delta interacting protein 3 (POLDIP3) as a result of the depletion of TDP-43 expression in two types of cultured cells. In the cells treated with TDP-43 siRNA, wild-type POLDIP3 (variant-1) decreased and POLDIP3 lacking exon 3 (variant-2) increased. The RNA binding ability of TDP-43 was necessary for inclusion of POLDIP3 exon 3. Moreover, we found an increment of POLDIP3 variant-2 mRNA in motor cortex, spinal cord and spinal motor neurons collected by laser capture microdissection with ALS. Our results suggest a loss of TDP-43 function in tissues affected with ALS, supporting the hypothesis that a loss of function of TDP-43 underlies the pathogenesis of ALS.