Approximately 10% of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases are familial (FALS), and ∼25% of FALS cases are caused by mutations in Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase type 1 (SOD1). Mutant (MT) SOD1 is thought to be pathogenic because it misfolds and aggregates. A number of transgenic mice have been generated that express different MTSOD1s as transgenes and exhibit an ALS-like disease. Although one study found that overexpression of human wild-type (WT) SOD1 did not affect disease in G85R transgenic mice, more recent reports claim that overexpression of WTSOD1 in other MTSOD1 transgenic mice hastened disease, raising a possibility that the effect of WTSOD1 overexpression in this FALS mouse model is mutant-specific. In order to clarify this issue, we studied the effect of WTSOD1 overexpression in a G85R transgenic mouse that we recently generated. We found that G85R/WTSOD1 double transgenic mice had an acceleration of disease onset and shortened survival compared with G85R single transgenic mice; in addition, there was an earlier appearance of pathological and immunohistochemical abnormalities. The spinal cord insoluble fraction from G85R/WTSOD1 mice had evidence of G85R–WTSOD1 heterodimers and WTSOD1 homodimers (in addition to G85R homodimers) with intermolecular disulfide bond cross-linking. These studies suggest that WTSOD1 can be recruited into disease-associated aggregates by redox processes, providing an explanation for the accelerated disease seen in G85R mice following WTSOD1 overexpression, and suggesting the importance of incorrect disulfide-linked protein as key to MTSOD1 toxicity.
Dominant mutations in Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause a familial form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Misfolding and aggregation of mutant SOD1 proteins are a pathological hallmark of SOD1-related fALS cases; however, the molecular mechanism of SOD1 aggregation remains controversial. Here, I have used E. coli as a model organism and shown multiple distinct pathways of SOD1 aggregation that are dependent upon its thiol-disulfide status. Overexpression of fALS-mutant SOD1s in the cytoplasm of E. coli BL21 and SHuffleTM, where redox environment is reducing and oxidizing, respectively, resulted in the formation of insoluble aggregates with notable differences; a disulfide bond of SOD1 was completely reduced in BL21 or abnormally formed between SOD1 molecules in SHuffleTM. Depending upon intracellular redox environment, therefore, mutant SOD1 is considered to misfold/aggregate through distinct pathways, which would be relevant in description of the pathological heterogeneity of SOD1-related fALS cases.
SOD1; ALS; aggregation; disulfide bond
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) are associated with familial cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Studies in transgenic mice have suggested that wild-type (WT) SOD1 can modulate the toxicity of mutant SOD1. In the present study, we demonstrate that the effects of WT SOD1 on the age at which transgenic mice expressing mutant human SOD1 (hSOD1) develop paralysis are influenced by the nature of the ALS mutation and the expression levels of WT hSOD1. We show that regardless of whether WT SOD1 changes the course of disease, both WT and mutant hSOD1 accumulate as detergent-insoluble aggregates in symptomatic mice expressing both proteins. However, using a panel of fluorescently tagged variants of SOD1 in a cell model of mutant SOD1 aggregation, we demonstrate that the interactions between mutant and WT SOD1 in aggregate formation are not simply a co-assembly of mutant and WT proteins. Overall, these data demonstrate that the product of the normal SOD1 allele in fALS has potential to influence the toxicity of mutant SOD1 and that complex interactions with the mutant protein may influence the formation of aggregates and inclusion bodies generated by mutant SOD1.
The most prominent form of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is caused by mutations of Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1). SOD1 maintains antioxidant activity under fALS causing mutations, suggesting that the mutations introduce a new, toxic, function. There are 100+ such known mutations that are chemically diverse and spatially distributed across the structure. The common phenotype leads us to propose an allosteric regulatory mechanism hypothesis: SOD1 mutants alter the correlated dynamics of the structure and differentially signal across an inherent allosteric network, thereby driving the disease mechanism at varying rates of efficiency.
Two recently developed computational methods for identifying allosteric control sites are applied to the wild type crystal structure, 4 fALS mutant crystal structures, 20 computationally generated fALS mutants and 1 computationally generated non-fALS mutant. The ensemble of mutant structures is used to generate an ensemble of dynamics, from which two allosteric control networks are identified. One network is connected to the catalytic site and thus may be involved in the natural antioxidant function. The second allosteric control network has a locus bordering the dimer interface and thus may serve as a mechanism to modulate dimer stability. Though the toxic function of mutated SOD1 is unknown and likely due to several contributing factors, this study explains how diverse mutations give rise to a common function. This new paradigm for allostery controlled function has broad implications across allosteric systems and may lead to the identification of the key chemical activity of SOD1-linked ALS.
mutation ensemble; elastic network; normal mode analysis (NMA); correlated dynamics; network flow; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) cause some forms of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Affected tissues of patients and transgenic mouse models of the disease accumulate misfolded and aggregated forms of the mutant protein. In the present study we have identified specific sequences in human SOD1 that modulate the aggregation of fALS mutant proteins. From our study of a panel of mutant proteins, we identify two sequence elements in human SOD1 (residues 42–50 and 109–123) that are critical in modulating the aggregation of the protein. These sequences are components of the 4th and 7th β-strands of the protein, and in the native structure are normally juxtaposed as elements of the core β-barrel. Our data suggest that some type of intermolecular interaction between these elements may occur in promoting mutant SOD1 aggregation.
Protein misfolding; Superoxide dismutase 1; Familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
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
Cu,Zn SOD1 (superoxide dismutase 1) is implicated in FALS (familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) through the accumulation of misfolded proteins that are toxic to neuronal cells. Loop VI (residues 102–115) of the protein is at the dimer interface and could play a critical role in stability. The free cysteine residue, Cys111 in the loop, is readily oxidized and alkylated. We have found that modification of this Cys111 with 2-ME (2-mercaptoethanol; 2-ME-SOD1) stabilizes the protein and the mechanism may provide insights into destabilization and the formation of aggregated proteins. Here, we determined the crystal structure of 2-ME-SOD1 and find that the 2-ME moieties in both subunits interact asymmetrically at the dimer interface and that there is an asymmetric configuration of segment Gly108 to Cys111 in loop VI. One loop VI of the dimer forms a 310-helix (Gly108 to His110) within a unique β-bridge stabilized by a hydrogen bond between Ser105-NH and His110-CO, while the other forms a β-turn without the H-bond. The H-bond (H-type) and H-bond free (F-type) configurations are also seen in some wild-type and mutant human SOD1s in the Protein Data Bank suggesting that they are interconvertible and an intrinsic property of SOD1s. The two structures serve as a basis for classification of these proteins and hopefully a guide to their stability and role in pathophysiology.
superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1); crystal structure; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); asymmetric configuration; ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; FALS, familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; 2-ME, 2-mercaptoethanol; PDB, protein data bank; SOD1, superoxide dismutase 1; WT, wild-type
Aggregation of Cu, Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) is implicated in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Glutathionylation and phosphorylation of SOD1 is omnipresent in the human body, even in healthy individuals, and has been shown to increase SOD1 dimer dissociation, which is the first step on the pathway toward SOD1 aggregation. We find that post-translational modification of SOD1, especially glutathionylation, promotes dimer dissociation. We discover an intermediate state in the pathway to dissociation, a conformational change that involves a “loosening” of the β-barrels and a loss or shift of dimer interface interactions. In modified SOD1, this intermediate state is stabilized as compared to unmodified SOD1. The presence of post-translational modifications could explain the environmental factors involved in the speed of disease progression. Because post-translational modifications such as glutathionylation are often induced by oxidative stress, post-translational modification of SOD1 could be a factor in the occurrence of sporadic cases of ALS, which make up 90% of all cases of the disease.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1, EC 126.96.36.199) cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS); with aggregated forms of mutant protein accumulating in spinal cord tissues of transgenic mouse models and human patients. Mice over-expressing wild-type human SOD1 (WT hSOD1) do not develop ALS-like disease, but co-expression of WT enzyme at high levels with mutant SOD1 accelerates the onset of motor neuron disease compared to mice expressing mutant hSOD1 alone. Spinal cords of mice expressing both proteins contain aggregated forms of mutant protein and, in some cases, evidence of co-aggregation of WT hSOD1 enzyme. In the present study, we used a cell culture model of mutant SOD1 aggregation to examine how the presence of WT SOD1 affects mutant protein aggregation, finding that co-expression of WT SOD1, human (hSOD1) or mouse (mSOD1), delayed the formation of mutant hSOD1 aggregates; in essence appearing to slow the aggregation rate. In some combinations of WT and mutant hSOD1 co-expression, the aggregates that did eventually form appeared to contain WT hSOD1 protein. However, WT mSOD1 did not co-aggregate with mutant hSOD1 despite displaying a similar ability to slow mutant hSOD1 aggregation. Together, these studies indicate that WT SOD1 (human or mouse), when expressed at levels equivalent to the mutant protein, modulates aggregation of FALS-mutant hSOD1.
superoxide; dismutase; aggregation; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Pathologic aggregates of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) harboring mutations linked to familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS) have been shown to contain aberrant intermolecular disulfide cross-links. In prior studies, we observed that intermolecular bonding was not necessary in the formation of detergent- insoluble SOD1 complexes by mutant SOD1, but we were unable to assess whether this type of bonding may be important for pathologic inclusion formation. In the present study, we visually assess the formation of large inclusions by fusing mutant SOD1 to yellow fluorescent protein (YFP).
Experimental constructs possessing mutations at all cysteine residues in SOD1 (sites 6, 57, 111, and 146 to F,S,Y,R or G,S,Y,R, respectively) were shown to maintain a high propensity of inclusion formation despite the inability to form disulfide cross-links. Interestingly, although aggregates form when all cysteines were mutated, double mutants of the ALS mutation C6G with an experimental mutation C111S exhibited low aggregation propensity.
Overall, this study is an extension of previous work demonstrating that cysteine residues in mutant SOD1 play a role in modulating aggregation and that intermolecular disulfide bonds are not required to produce large intracellular inclusion-like structures.
Dissociation of superoxide dismutase 1 dimers is enhanced by glutathionylation, although the dissociation constants reported to date are imprecise. We have quantified the discreet dissociation constants for wild-type superoxide dismutase 1 and six naturally occurring sequence variants, in their unmodified and glutathionylated forms, at the ratios expressed. Unmodified superoxide dismutase 1 variants that shared similar dissociation constants with SOD1WT had disproportionately increased dissociation constants when glutathionylated. This defines a key role for glutathionylation in superoxide dismutase 1 associated familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
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.
Dominant mutations in a Cu, Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene cause a familial form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). While it remains controversial how SOD1 mutations lead to onset and progression of the disease, many in vitro and in vivo studies have supported a gain-of-toxicity mechanism where pathogenic mutations contribute to destabilizing a native structure of SOD1 and thus facilitate misfolding and aggregation. Indeed, abnormal accumulation of SOD1-positive inclusions in spinal motor neurons is a pathological hallmark in SOD1-related familial ALS. Furthermore, similarities in clinical phenotypes and neuropathology of ALS cases with and without mutations in sod1 gene have implied a disease mechanism involving SOD1 common to all ALS cases. Although pathogenic roles of wild-type SOD1 in sporadic ALS remain controversial, recent developments of novel SOD1 antibodies have made it possible to characterize wild-type SOD1 under pathological conditions of ALS. Here, I have briefly reviewed recent progress on biochemical and immunohistochemical characterization of wild-type SOD1 in sporadic ALS cases and discussed possible involvement of wild-type SOD1 in a pathomechanism of ALS.
Multiple cellular functions are compromised in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In familial ALS (FALS) with Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) mutations, the mechanisms by which the mutation in SOD1 leads to such a wide range of abnormalities remains elusive.
To investigate underlying cellular conditions caused by the SOD1 mutation, we explored mutant SOD1-interacting proteins in the spinal cord of symptomatic transgenic mice expressing a mutant SOD1, SOD1Leu126delTT with a FLAG sequence (DF mice). This gene product is structurally unable to form a functional homodimer. Tissues were obtained from both DF mice and disease-free mice expressing wild-type with FLAG SOD1 (WF mice). Both FLAG-tagged SOD1 and cross-linking proteins were enriched and subjected to a shotgun proteomic analysis. We identified 34 proteins (or protein subunits) in DF preparations, while in WF preparations, interactions were detected with only 4 proteins.
These results indicate that disease-causing mutant SOD1 likely leads to inadequate protein-protein interactions. This could be an early and crucial process in the pathogenesis of FALS.
Mutations in the superoxide dismutase 1 (sod1) gene cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS), likely due to the toxic properties of misfolded mutant SOD1 protein. Here we demonstrated that, starting from the pre-onset stage of FALS, misfolded SOD1 species associates specifically with kinesin-associated protein 3 (KAP3) in the ventral white matter of SOD1G93A-transgenic mouse spinal cord. KAP3 is a kinesin-2 subunit responsible for binding to cargos including choline acetyltransferase (ChAT). Motor axons in SOD1G93A-Tg mice also showed a reduction in ChAT transport from the pre-onset stage. By employing a novel FALS modeling system using NG108-15 cells, we showed that microtubule-dependent release of acetylcholine was significantly impaired by misfolded SOD1 species. Furthermore, such impairment was able to be normalized by KAP3 overexpression. KAP3 was incorporated into SOD1 aggregates in human FALS cases as well. These results suggest that KAP3 sequestration by misfolded SOD1 species and the resultant inhibition of ChAT transport play a role in the dysfunction of ALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a debilitating and fatal late-onset neurodegenerative disease. Familial cases of ALS (FALS) constitute ∼10% of all ALS cases, and mutant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) is found in 15–20% of FALS. SOD1 mutations confer a toxic gain of unknown function to the protein that specifically targets the motor neurons in the cortex and the spinal cord. We have previously shown that the autosomal dominant Legs at odd angles (Loa) mutation in cytoplasmic dynein heavy chain (Dync1h1) delays disease onset and extends the life span of transgenic mice harboring human mutant SOD1G93A. In this study we provide evidence that despite the lack of direct interactions between mutant SOD1 and either mutant or wild-type cytoplasmic dynein, the Loa mutation confers significant reductions in the amount of mutant SOD1 protein in the mitochondrial matrix. Moreover, we show that the Loa mutation ameliorates defects in mitochondrial respiration and membrane potential observed in SOD1G93A motor neuron mitochondria. These data suggest that the Loa mutation reduces the vulnerability of mitochondria to the toxic effects of mutant SOD1, leading to improved mitochondrial function in SOD1G93A motor neurons.
Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease); Dynein; Mitochondria; Mitochondrial Transport; Neurodegeneration; ALS; Axonal Transport; Loa; Motor Neuron Disease; Superoxide Dismutase 1 (SOD1)
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), which are one cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS), induce misfolding and aggregation of the protein. Misfolding can be detected by the binding of antibodies raised against peptide epitopes that are normally buried in the native conformation, shifts in solubility in non-ionic detergents, and the formation of macromolecular inclusions. In the present study, we investigate the relationship between detergent-insoluble and sedimentable forms of mutant SOD1, forms of mutant SOD1 with aberrantly accessible epitopes, and mutant protein in inclusions with the goal of defining the spectrum of misfolded states that mutant SOD1 can adopt.
Using combined approaches in cultured cell models, we demonstrate that a substantial fraction of mutant SOD1 adopts a non-native conformation that remains soluble and freely mobile. We also show that mutant SOD1 can produce multimeric assemblies of which some are insoluble in detergent and large enough to sediment by ultracentrifugation and some are large enough to detect visually. Three conformationally restricted antibodies were found to be useful in discriminating mal-folded forms of mutant SOD1. An antibody termed C4F6 displays properties consistent with recognition of soluble, freely mobile, mal-folded mutant SOD1. An antibody termed SEDI, which recognizes C-terminal residues, detects larger inclusion structures as well as soluble misfolded entities. An antibody termed hSOD1, which recognizes aa 24-36, detects an epitope shared by soluble non-natively folded WT and mutant SOD1. This epitope becomes inaccessible in aggregates of mutant SOD1.
Our studies demonstrate how different methods of detecting misfolding and aggregation of mutant SOD1 reveal different forms of aberrantly folded protein. Immunological and biochemical methods can be used in combination to detect soluble and insoluble misfolded forms of mutant SOD1. Our findings support the view that mutant SOD1 can adopt multiple misfolded conformations with the potential that different structural variants mediate different aspects of fALS.
Converging evidence indicates that aberrant aggregation of mutant Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (mutSOD1) is strongly implicated in familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS). MutSOD1 forms high molecular weight oligomers, which disappear under reducing conditions, both in neural tissues of FALS transgenic mice and in transfected cultured cells, indicating a role for aberrant intermolecular disulfide cross-linking in the oligomerization and aggregation process. To study the contribution of specific cysteines in the mechanism of aggregation, we mutated human SOD1 in each of its four cysteine residues and, using a cell transfection assay, analyzed the solubility and aggregation of those SOD1s. Our results suggest that the formation of mutSOD1 aggregates are the consequence of covalent disulfide cross-linking and non-covalent interactions. In particular, we found that the removal of Cys-111 strongly reduces the ability of a range of different FALS-associated mutSOD1s to form aggregates and impair cell viability in cultured NSC-34 cells. Moreover, the removal of Cys-111 impairs the ability of mutSOD1s to form disulfide cross-linking. Treatments that deplete the cellular pool of GSH exacerbate mutSOD1s insolubility, whereas an overload of intracellular GSH or overexpression of glutaredoxin-1, which specifically catalyzes the reduction of protein-SSG-mixed disulfides, significantly rescues mutSOD1s solubility. These data are consistent with the view that the redox environment influences the oligomerization/aggregation pathway of mutSOD1 and point to Cys-111 as a key mediator of this process.
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.
There are about 100 single point mutations of copper, zinc superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) which are reported (http://alsod.iop.kcl.ac.uk/Als/index.aspx) to be related to the familial form (fALS) of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These mutations are spread all over the protein. It is well documented that fALS produces protein aggregates in the motor neurons of fALS patients, which have been found to be associated to mitochondria. We selected eleven SOD1 mutants, most of them reported as pathological, and characterized them investigating their propensity to aggregation using different techniques, from circular dichroism spectra to ThT-binding fluorescence, size-exclusion chromatography and light scattering spectroscopy. We show here that these eleven SOD1 mutants, only when they are in the metal-free form, undergo the same general mechanism of oligomerization as found for the WT metal-free protein. The rates of oligomerization are different but eventually they give rise to the same type of soluble oligomeric species. These oligomers are formed through oxidation of the two free cysteines of SOD1 (6 and 111) and stabilized by hydrogen bonds, between beta strands, thus forming amyloid-like structures. SOD1 enters the mitochondria as demetallated and mitochondria are loci where oxidative stress may easily occur. The soluble oligomeric species, formed by the apo form of both WT SOD1 and its mutants through an oxidative process, might represent the precursor toxic species, whose existence would also suggest a common mechanism for ALS and fALS. The mechanism here proposed for SOD1 mutant oligomerization is absolutely general and it provides a common unique picture for the behaviors of the many SOD1 mutants, of different nature and distributed all over the protein.
Mutations in the gene encoding Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) are one of the causes of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS). Fibrillar inclusions containing SOD1 and SOD1 inclusions that bind the amyloid-specific dye thioflavin S have been found in neurons of transgenic mice expressing mutant SOD1. Therefore, the formation of amyloid fibrils from human SOD1 was investigated. When agitated at acidic pH in the presence of low concentrations of guanidine or acetonitrile, metalated SOD1 formed fibrillar material which bound both thioflavin T and Congo red and had circular dichroism and infrared spectra characteristic of amyloid. While metalated SOD1 did not form amyloid-like aggregates at neutral pH, either removing metals from SOD1 with its intramolecular disulfide bond intact or reducing the intramolecular disulfide bond of metalated SOD1 was sufficient to promote formation of these aggregates. SOD1 formed amyloid-like aggregates both with and without intermolecular disulfide bonds, depending on the incubation conditions, and a mutant SOD1 lacking free sulfhydryl groups (AS-SOD1) formed amyloid-like aggregates at neutral pH under reducing conditions. ALS mutations enhanced the ability of disulfide-reduced SOD1 to form amyloid-like aggregates, and apo-AS-SOD1 formed amyloid-like aggregates at pH 7 only when an ALS mutation was also present. These results indicate that some mutations related to ALS promote formation of amyloid-like aggregates by facilitating the loss of metals and/or by making the intramolecular disulfide bond more susceptible to reduction, thus allowing the conversion of SOD1 to a form that aggregates to form resembling amyloid. Furthermore, the occurrence of amyloid-like aggregates per se does not depend on forming intermolecular disulfide bonds, and multiple forms of such aggregates can be produced from SOD1.
Point mutations in the gene encoding copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) impart a gain-of-function to this protein that underlies 20-25% of all familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) cases. However, the specific mechanism of mutant SOD1 toxicity has remained elusive. Using the complementary techniques of atomic force microscopy (AFM), electrophysiology, and cell and molecular biology, here we examine the structure and activity of A4VSOD1, a mutant SOD1. AFM of A4VSOD1 reconstituted in lipid membrane shows discrete tetrameric pore-like structure with outer and inner diameters 12.2 and 3.0 nm respectively. Electrophysiological recordings show distinct ionic conductances across bilayer for A4VSOD1 and none for wild-type SOD1. Mouse neuroblastoma cells exposed to A4VSOD1 undergo membrane depolarization and increases in intracellular calcium. These results provide compelling new evidence that a mutant SOD1 is capable of disrupting cellular homeostasis via an unregulated ion channel mechanism. Such a “toxic channel” mechanism presents a new therapeutic direction for ALS research.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; superoxide dismutase; A4V; protein misfolding; atomic force microscopy; Fluo-4 calcium assay; DiBAC4(3) membrane potential measurement
Copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) is a detoxifying enzyme localized in the cytosol, nucleus, peroxisomes, and mitochondria. The discovery that mutations in SOD1 gene cause a subset of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) has attracted great attention, and studies to date have been mainly focused on discovering mutations in the coding region and investigation at protein level. Considering that changes in SOD1 mRNA levels have been associated with sporadic ALS (SALS), a molecular understanding of the processes involved in the regulation of SOD1 gene expression could not only unravel novel regulatory pathways that may govern cellular phenotypes and changes in diseases but also might reveal therapeutic targets and treatments. This review seeks to provide an overview of SOD1 gene structure and of the processes through which SOD1 transcription is controlled. Furthermore, we emphasize the importance to focus future researches on investigating posttranscriptional mechanisms and their relevance to ALS.
Dying-back degeneration of motor neuron axons represents an established feature of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) associated with superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) mutations, but axon-autonomous effects of pathogenic SOD1 remained undefined. Characteristics of motor neurons affected in FALS include abnormal kinase activation, aberrant neurofilament phosphorylation, and fast axonal transport (FAT) deficits, but functional relationships among these pathogenic events were unclear. Experiments in isolated squid axoplasm reveal that FALS-related SOD1 mutant polypeptides inhibit FAT through a mechanism involving a p38 mitogen activated protein kinase pathway. Mutant SOD1 activated neuronal p38 in mouse spinal cord, neuroblastoma cells and squid axoplasm. Active p38 MAP kinase phosphorylated kinesin-1, and this phosphorylation event inhibited kinesin-1. Finally, vesicle motility assays revealed previously unrecognized, isoform-specific effects of p38 on FAT. Axon-autonomous activation of the p38 pathway represents a novel gain of toxic function for FALS-linked SOD1 proteins consistent with the dying-back pattern of neurodegeneration characteristic of ALS.
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