Abnormal cytoplasmic accumulation of Fused in Sarcoma (FUS) in neurons defines subtypes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). FUS is a member of the FET protein family that includes Ewing's sarcoma (EWS) and TATA-binding protein-associated factor 2N (TAF15). FET proteins are predominantly localized to the nucleus, where they bind RNA and DNA to modulate transcription, mRNA splicing, and DNA repair. In ALS cases with FUS inclusions (ALS-FUS), mutations in the FUS gene cause disease, whereas FTLD cases with FUS inclusions (FTLD-FUS) do not harbor FUS mutations. Notably, in FTLD-FUS, all FET proteins accumulate with their nuclear import receptor Transportin 1 (TRN1), in contrast ALS-FUS inclusions are exclusively positive for FUS. In the present study, we show that induction of DNA damage replicates several pathologic hallmarks of FTLD-FUS in immortalized human cells and primary human neurons and astrocytes. Treatment with the antibiotic calicheamicin γ1, which causes DNA double-strand breaks, leads to the cytoplasmic accumulation of FUS, TAF15, EWS, and TRN1. Moreover, cytoplasmic translocation of FUS is mediated by phosphorylation of its N terminus by the DNA-dependent protein kinase. Finally, we observed elevated levels of phospho-H2AX in FTLD-FUS brains, indicating that DNA damage occurs in patients. Together, our data reveal a novel regulatory mechanism for FUS localization in cells and suggest that DNA damage may contribute to the accumulation of FET proteins observed in human FTLD-FUS cases, but not in ALS-FUS.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); cytoplasmic translocation; DNA damage; frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD); Fused in Sarcoma (FUS); phosphorylation
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease and atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration are rare diseases characterized by ubiquitin-positive inclusions lacking transactive response DNA-binding protein-43 and tau. Recently, mutations in the fused in sarcoma gene have been shown to cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal inclusions have subsequently been demonstrated in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease and atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions. Here we provide clinical, imaging, morphological findings, as well as genetic and biochemical data in 14 fused in sarcoma proteinopathy cases. In this cohort, the age of onset was variable but included cases of young-onset disease. Patients with atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions all presented with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, while the clinical presentation in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease was more heterogeneous, including cases with motor neuron disease and extrapyramidal syndromes. Neuroimaging revealed atrophy of the frontal and anterior temporal lobes as well as the caudate in the cases with atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions, but was more heterogeneous in the cases with neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease, often being normal to visual inspection early on in the disease. The distribution and severity of fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, neuronal intranuclear inclusions and neurites were recorded and fused in sarcoma was biochemically analysed in both subgroups. Fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic and intranuclear inclusions were found in the hippocampal granule cell layer in variable numbers. Cortical fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions were often ‘Pick body-like’ in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease, and annular and crescent-shaped inclusions were seen in both conditions. Motor neurons contained variable numbers of compact, granular or skein-like cytoplasmic inclusions in all fused in sarcoma-positive cases in which brainstem and spinal cord motor neurons were available for study (five and four cases, respectively). No fused in sarcoma mutations were found in any cases. Biochemically, two major fused in sarcoma species were found and shown to be more insoluble in the atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions subgroup compared with neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease. There is considerable overlap and also significant differences in fused in sarcoma-positive pathology between the two subgroups, suggesting they may represent a spectrum of the same disease. The co-existence of fused in sarcoma-positive inclusions in both motor neurons and extramotor cerebral structures is a characteristic finding in sporadic fused in sarcoma proteinopathies, indicating a multisystem disorder.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FUS; clinical presentation; neuropathology; biochemistry
Juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with basophilic inclusions is a form of ALS characterized by protein deposits in motor neurons that are morphologically and tinctorially distinct from those of classic sporadic ALS. The nosologic position of this type of ALS in the molecular pathologic and genetic classification of ALS is unknown.
We identified neuropathologically 4 patients with juvenile ALS with basophilic inclusions and tested the hypothesis that specific RNA binding protein pathology may define this type of ALS. Immunohistochemical findings prompted us to sequence the fused in sarcoma (FUS) gene.
Motor symptoms began between ages 17 and 22. Disease progression was rapid without dementia. No family history was identified. Basophilic inclusions were strongly positive for FUS protein but negative for TAR DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43). Granular and compact FUS deposits were identified in glia and neuronal cytoplasm and nuclei. Ultrastructure of aggregates was in keeping with origin from fragmented rough endoplasmic reticulum. Sequencing of all 15 exons of the FUS gene in 3 patients revealed a novel deletion mutation (c.1554_1557delACAG) in 1 individual and the c.1574C>T (P525L) mutation in 2 others.
Juvenile ALS with basophilic inclusions is a FUS proteinopathy and should be classified as ALS-FUS. The FUS c.1574C>T (P525L) and c.1554_1557delACAG mutations are associated with this distinct phenotype. The molecular genetic relationship with frontotemporal lobar degeneration with FUS pathology remains to be clarified.
= amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration with FUS pathology;
= neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease.
Mutations in the gene encoding the RNA-binding protein fused in sarcoma (FUS) can cause familial and sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and rarely frontotemproal dementia (FTD). FUS accumulates in neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCIs) in ALS patients with FUS mutations. FUS is also a major pathologic marker for a group of less common forms of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), which includes atypical FTLD with ubiquitinated inclusions (aFTLD-U), neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID) and basophilic inclusion body disease (BIBD). These diseases are now called FUS proteinopathies, because they share this disease marker. It is unknown how FUS mutations cause disease and the role of FUS in FTD-FUS cases, which do not have FUS mutations. In this paper we report the development of somatic brain transgenic (SBT) mice using recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) to investigate how FUS mutations lead to neurodegeneration.
We compared SBT mice expressing wild-type human FUS (FUSWT), and two ALS-linked mutations: FUSR521C and FUSΔ14, which lacks the nuclear localization signal. Both FUS mutants accumulated in the cytoplasm relative to FUSWT. The degree of this shift correlated with the severity of the FUS mutation as reflected by disease onset in humans. Mice expressing the most aggressive mutation, FUSΔ14, recapitulated many aspects of FUS proteinopathies, including insoluble FUS, basophilic and eosiniphilic NCIs, and other pathologic markers, including ubiquitin, p62/SQSTM1, α-internexin, and the poly-adenylate(A)-binding protein 1 (PABP-1). However, TDP-43 did not localize to inclusions.
Our data supports the hypothesis that ALS or FTD-linked FUS mutations cause neurodegeneration by increasing cyotplasmic FUS. Accumulation of FUS in the cytoplasm may retain RNA targets and recruit additional RNA-binding proteins, such as PABP-1, into stress-granule like aggregates that coalesce into permanent inclusions that could negatively affect RNA metabolism. Identification of mutations in other genes that cause ALS/FTD, such as C9ORF72, sentaxin, and angiogenin, lends support to the idea that defective RNA metabolism is a critical pathogenic pathway. The SBT FUS mice described here will provide a valuable platform for dissecting the pathogenic mechanism of FUS mutations, define the relationship between FTD and ALS-FUS, and help identify therapeutic targets that are desperately needed for these devastating neurodegenerative disorders.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Fused in sarcoma proteinopathies; Transgenic mouse models; Adeno-associated virus; Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions; Ubiquitin; p62/SQSTM1; α-internexin; PABP-1; Stress granules; RNA dysfunction
FET family proteins consist of fused in sarcoma/translocated in liposarcoma (FUS/TLS), Ewing's sarcoma (EWS), and TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15 (TAF15). Mutations in the copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1), TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43), and FET family proteins are associated with the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease. There is currently no cure for this disease and few effective treatments are available. Epidemiological studies indicate that the consumption of tea is associated with a reduced risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases. The results of this study revealed that components of a pu-erh tea extract (PTE) interacted with FET family proteins but not with TDP-43 or SOD1. PTE induced the degradation of FET family proteins but had no effects on TDP-43 or SOD1. The most frequently occurring ALS-linked FUS/TLS mutant protein, R521C FUS/TLS, was also degraded in the presence of PTE. Furthermore, ammonium chloride, a lysosome inhibitor, but not lactacystin, a proteasome inhibitor, reduced the degradation of FUS/TLS protein by PTE. PTE significantly reduced the incorporation of R521C FUS/TLS into stress granules under stress conditions. These findings suggest that PTE may have beneficial health effects, including preventing the onset of FET family protein-associated neurodegenerative diseases and delaying the progression of ALS by inhibiting the cytoplasmic aggregation of FET family proteins.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a clinical syndrome with a heterogeneous molecular basis. The neuropathology associated with most FTD is characterized by abnormal cellular aggregates of either transactive response DNA-binding protein with Mr 43 kDa (TDP-43) or tau protein. However, we recently described a subgroup of FTD patients, representing around 10%, with an unusual clinical phenotype and pathology characterized by frontotemporal lobar degeneration with neuronal inclusions composed of an unidentified ubiquitinated protein (atypical FTLD-U; aFTLD-U). All cases were sporadic and had early-onset FTD with severe progressive behavioural and personality changes in the absence of aphasia or significant motor features. Mutations in the fused in sarcoma (FUS) gene have recently been identified as a cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, with these cases reported to have abnormal cellular accumulations of FUS protein. Because of the recognized clinical, genetic and pathological overlap between FTD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, we investigated whether FUS might also be the pathological protein in aFTLD-U. In all our aFTLD-U cases (n = 15), FUS immunohistochemistry labelled all the neuronal inclusions and also demonstrated previously unrecognized glial pathology. Immunoblot analysis of protein extracted from post-mortem aFTLD-U brain tissue demonstrated increased levels of insoluble FUS. No mutations in the FUS gene were identified in any of our patients. These findings suggest that FUS is the pathological protein in a significant subgroup of sporadic FTD and reinforce the concept that FTD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are closely related conditions.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; frontotemporal dementia; FUS; fused in sarcoma; TLS; translocated in liposarcoma
A combination of yeast genetics and protein biochemistry define how the fused in
sarcoma (FUS) protein might contribute to Lou Gehrig's disease.
TDP-43 and FUS are RNA-binding proteins that form cytoplasmic inclusions in some
forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar
degeneration (FTLD). Moreover, mutations in TDP-43 and FUS are linked to ALS and
FTLD. However, it is unknown whether TDP-43 and FUS aggregate and cause toxicity
by similar mechanisms. Here, we exploit a yeast model and purified FUS to
elucidate mechanisms of FUS aggregation and toxicity. Like TDP-43, FUS must
aggregate in the cytoplasm and bind RNA to confer toxicity in yeast. These
cytoplasmic FUS aggregates partition to stress granule compartments just as they
do in ALS patients. Importantly, in isolation, FUS spontaneously forms pore-like
oligomers and filamentous structures reminiscent of FUS inclusions in ALS
patients. FUS aggregation and toxicity requires a prion-like domain, but unlike
TDP-43, additional determinants within a RGG domain are critical for FUS
aggregation and toxicity. In further distinction to TDP-43, ALS-linked FUS
mutations do not promote aggregation. Finally, genome-wide screens uncovered
stress granule assembly and RNA metabolism genes that modify FUS toxicity but
not TDP-43 toxicity. Our findings suggest that TDP-43 and FUS, though similar
RNA-binding proteins, aggregate and confer disease phenotypes via distinct
mechanisms. These differences will likely have important therapeutic
Many human neurodegenerative diseases are associated with the abnormal
accumulation of protein aggregates in the neurons of affected individuals.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is
a fatal human neurodegenerative disease caused primarily by a loss of motor
neurons. Recently, mutations in a gene called fused in sarcoma (FUS) were
identified in some ALS patients. The basic mechanisms by which FUS contributes
to ALS are unknown. We have addressed this question using protein biochemistry
and the genetically tractable yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
We defined the regions of biochemically pure FUS protein that contribute to its
aggregation and toxic properties. We then used genome-wide screens in yeast to
identify genes and cellular pathways involved in the toxicity of FUS. Many of
the FUS toxicity modifier genes that we identified in yeast have clear homologs
in humans, suggesting that these might also be relevant for the human disease.
Together, our studies provide novel insight into the basic mechanisms associated
with FUS aggregation and toxicity. Moreover, our findings open new avenues that
could be explored for therapeutic intervention.
The RNA-binding proteins TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP-43) and fused in sarcoma (FUS) play central roles in neurodegeneration associated with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U). Normally localized in the nucleus, in sites affected by ALS and FTLD-U they are mislocalized to the cytoplasm and form cytoplasmic inclusions. TDP-43 and FUS are transported to the nucleus in a Ran-GTPase-dependent manner via nuclear import receptors, but they also contribute to the formation of stress granules (SGs), which are intracytoplasmic structures incorporating RNA. C-terminal truncations of TDP-43 eliminate the nuclear transport signal and cause mislocalization of the protein to the cytoplasm, where it accumulates and forms SGs. ALS-associated FUS mutations impair nuclear transport and cause mislocalization of FUS to the cytoplasm, where it also contributes to assembly of SGs. Furthermore, the ALS susceptibility factor ataxin-2, recently identified as a potent modifier of TDP-43 toxicity, is also a predicted cytoplasmic RNA-binding protein and a constituent protein of SGs, suggesting that it is a part of the common pathologic cascade formed by TDP-43 and FUS. Thus, we propose that excessive mislocalization of the RNA-binding proteins TDP-43, FUS, and ataxin-2 into the cytoplasm leads to impairment of the RNA quality control system, forming the core of the ALS/FTLD-U degenerative cascade. In this review, we discuss the molecular basis of the novel disease spectrum of ALS/FTLD-U, including the neurodegenerative mechanism of the cytoplasmic RNA-binding proteins TDP-43 and FUS and the possibility of a novel therapeutic strategy.
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID), a rare form of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), is characterized neuropathologically by focal atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes, neuronal loss, gliosis, and neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI) containing epitopes of ubiquitin and neuronal intermediate filament proteins. Recently, the ‘fused in sarcoma’ (FUS) protein (encoded by the FUS gene) has been shown to be a component of the inclusions of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with FUS mutation, NIFID, basophilic inclusion body disease, and atypical FTLD with ubiquitin-immunoreactive inclusions (aFTLD-U). To further characterize FUS proteinopathy in NIFID, and to determine whether the pathology revealed by FUS immunohistochemistry (IHC) is more extensive than α-internexin, we have undertaken a quantitative assessment of ten clinically and neuropathologically well-characterized cases using FUS IHC. The densities of NCI were greatest in the dentate gyrus (DG) and in sectors CA1/2 of the hippocampus. Anti-FUS antibodies also labeled glial inclusions (GI), neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NII), and dystrophic neurites (DN). Vacuolation was extensive across upper and lower cortical layers. Significantly greater densities of abnormally enlarged neurons and glial cell nuclei were present in the lower compared with the upper cortical laminae. FUS IHC revealed significantly greater numbers of NCI in all brain regions especially the DG. Our data suggest: (1) significant densities of FUS-immunoreactive NCI in NIFID especially in the DG and CA1/2; (2) infrequent FUS-immunoreactive GI, NII, and DN; (3) widely distributed vacuolation across the cortex, and (4) significantly more NCI revealed by FUS than α-internexin IHC.
Neurofilament intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID); ‘Fused in sarcoma’ (FUS); Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI); Density; Neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NII)
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID) is an uncommon neurodegenerative condition that typically presents as early-onset, sporadic frontotemporal dementia (FTD), associated with a pyramidal and/or extrapyramidal movement disorder. The neuropathology is characterized by frontotemporal lobar degeneration with neuronal inclusions that are immunoreactive for all class IV intermediate filaments (IF), light, medium and heavy neurofilament subunits and α-internexin. However, not all the inclusions in NIFID are IF-positive and the primary molecular defect remains uncertain. Mutations in the gene encoding the fused in sarcoma (FUS) protein have recently been identified as a cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Because of the recognized clinical, genetic and pathological overlap between FTD and ALS, we investigated the possible role of FUS in NIFID. We found abnormal intracellular accumulation of FUS to be a consistent feature of our NIFID cases (n = 5). More neuronal inclusions were labeled using FUS immunohistochemistry than for IF. Several types of inclusions were consistently FUS-positive but IF-negative, including neuronal intranuclear inclusions and glial cytoplasmic inclusions. Double-label immunofluorescence confirmed that many cells had only FUS-positive inclusions and that all cells with IF-positive inclusions also contained pathological FUS. No mutations in the FUS gene were identified in a single case with DNA available. These findings suggest that FUS may play an important role in the pathogenesis of NIFID.
frontotemporal dementia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; neuronal intermediate filament disease; fused in liposarcoma; translocated in sarcoma
Frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are closely related clinical syndromes with overlapping molecular pathogenesis. Several families have been reported with members affected by frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or both, which show genetic linkage to a region on chromosome 9p21. Recently, two studies identified the FTD/ALS gene defect on chromosome 9p as an expanded GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in a non-coding region of the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 gene (C9ORF72). In the present study, we provide detailed analysis of the clinical features and neuropathology for 16 unrelated families with frontotemporal dementia caused by the C9ORF72 mutation. All had an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. Eight families had a combination of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis while the other eight had a pure frontotemporal dementia phenotype. Clinical information was available for 30 affected members of the 16 families. There was wide variation in age of onset (mean = 54.3, range = 34–74 years) and disease duration (mean = 5.3, range = 1–16 years). Early diagnoses included behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (n = 15), progressive non-fluent aphasia (n = 5), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (n = 9) and progressive non-fluent aphasia–amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (n = 1). Heterogeneity in clinical presentation was also common within families. However, there was a tendency for the phenotypes to converge with disease progression; seven subjects had final clinical diagnoses of both frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and all of those with an initial progressive non-fluent aphasia diagnosis subsequently developed significant behavioural abnormalities. Twenty-one affected family members came to autopsy and all were found to have transactive response DNA binding protein with Mr 43 kD (TDP-43) pathology in a wide neuroanatomical distribution. All had involvement of the extramotor neocortex and hippocampus (frontotemporal lobar degeneration-TDP) and all but one case (clinically pure frontotemporal dementia) had involvement of lower motor neurons, characteristic of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In addition, a consistent and relatively specific pathological finding was the presence of neuronal inclusions in the cerebellar cortex that were ubiquitin/p62-positive but TDP-43-negative. Our findings indicate that the C9ORF72 mutation is a major cause of familial frontotemporal dementia with TDP-43 pathology, that likely accounts for the majority of families with combined frontotemporal dementia/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis presentation, and further support the concept that frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis represent a clinicopathological spectrum of disease with overlapping molecular pathogenesis.
frontotemporal dementia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72, TDP-43
Fused in Sarcoma (FUS) proteinopathy is a feature of frontotemporal lobar dementia (FTLD), and mutation of the fus gene segregates with FTLD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). To study the consequences of mutation in the fus gene, we created transgenic rats expressing the human fus gene with or without mutation. Overexpression of a mutant (R521C substitution), but not normal, human FUS induced progressive paralysis resembling ALS. Mutant FUS transgenic rats developed progressive paralysis secondary to degeneration of motor axons and displayed a substantial loss of neurons in the cortex and hippocampus. This neuronal loss was accompanied by ubiquitin aggregation and glial reaction. While transgenic rats that overexpressed the wild-type human FUS were asymptomatic at young ages, they showed a deficit in spatial learning and memory and a significant loss of cortical and hippocampal neurons at advanced ages. These results suggest that mutant FUS is more toxic to neurons than normal FUS and that increased expression of normal FUS is sufficient to induce neuron death. Our FUS transgenic rats reproduced some phenotypes of ALS and FTLD and will provide a useful model for mechanistic studies of FUS–related diseases.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration are two related diseases characterized by degeneration of selected groups of neuronal cells. Neither of these diseases has a clear cause, and both are incurable at present. Mutation of the fus gene has recently been linked to these two diseases. Here, we describe a novel rat model that expresses a mutated form of the human fus gene and manifests the phenotypes and pathological features of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Establishment of this FUS transgenic rat model will allow not only for mechanistic study of FUS–related diseases, but also for quick development of therapies for these devastating diseases.
We aimed to investigate the role of the nuclear carrier and binding proteins, transportin-1 (TRN1) and transportin-2 (TRN2), TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15 (TAF15) and Ewing’s Sarcoma protein (EWS) in inclusion body formation in cases of Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) associated with Fused in Sarcoma protein (FTLD-FUS).
Eight cases of FTLD-FUS (5 cases of atypical FTLD-U (aFTLD-U), 2 of Neuronal Intermediate Filament Inclusion Body Disease (NIFID) and 1 of Basophilic Inclusion Body Disease (BIBD)) were immunostained for FUS, TRN1, TRN2, TAF15 and EWS. 10 cases of FTLD associated with TDP-43 inclusions served as reference cases.
The inclusion bodies in FTLD-FUS contained TRN1 and TAF15 and, to a lesser extent, EWS, but not TRN2. The patterns of immunostaining for TRN1 and TAF15 were very similar to that of FUS. None of these proteins was associated with tau or TDP-43 aggregations in FTLD.
Data suggest that FUS, TRN1 and TAF15 may participate in a functional pathway in an interdependent way, and imply that the function of TDP-43 may not necessarily be in parallel with, or complementary to, that of FUS, despite each protein sharing many similar structural elements.
Frontotemporal Lobar degeneration; Fused in Sarcoma; TDP-43; transportins; TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15; Ewing’s sarcoma protein
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) are relentlessly progressive neurodegenerative disorders with overlapping clinical, genetic and pathological features. Cytoplasmic inclusions of fused in sarcoma (FUS) are the hallmark of several forms of FTLD and ALS patients with mutations in the FUS gene. FUS is a multifunctional, predominantly nuclear, DNA and RNA binding protein. Here, we report that transgenic mice overexpressing wild-type human FUS develop an aggressive phenotype with an early onset tremor followed by progressive hind limb paralysis and death by 12 weeks in homozygous animals. Large motor neurons were lost from the spinal cord accompanied by neurophysiological evidence of denervation and focal muscle atrophy. Surviving motor neurons in the spinal cord had greatly increased cytoplasmic expression of FUS, with globular and skein-like FUS-positive and ubiquitin-negative inclusions associated with astroglial and microglial reactivity. Cytoplasmic FUS inclusions were also detected in the brain of transgenic mice without apparent neuronal loss and little astroglial or microglial activation. Hemizygous FUS overexpressing mice showed no evidence of a motor phenotype or pathology. These findings recapitulate several pathological features seen in human ALS and FTLD patients, and suggest that overexpression of wild-type FUS in vulnerable neurons may be one of the root causes of disease. Furthermore, these mice will provide a new model to study disease mechanism, and test therapies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-012-1043-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The FET family of proteins is composed of FUS/TLS, EWS/EWSR1, and TAF15 and possesses RNA- and DNA-binding capacities. The FET-proteins are involved in transcriptional regulation and RNA processing, and FET-gene deregulation is associated with development of cancer and protein granule formations in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and trinucleotide repeat expansion diseases. We here describe a comparative characterization of FET-protein localization and gene regulatory functions. We show that FUS and TAF15 locate to cellular stress granules to a larger extend than EWS. FET-proteins have no major importance for stress granule formation and cellular stress responses, indicating that FET-protein stress granule association most likely is a downstream response to cellular stress. Gene expression analyses showed that the cellular response towards FUS and TAF15 reduction is relatively similar whereas EWS reduction resulted in a more unique response. The presented data support that FUS and TAF15 are more functionally related to each other, and that the FET-proteins have distinct functions in cellular signaling pathways which could have implications for the neurological disease pathogenesis.
RNA-binding protein pathology now represents one of the best characterized pathologic features of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration patients with TDP-43 or FUS pathology (FTLD-TDP and FTLD-FUS). Using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, we identified altered levels of the RNA-binding motif 45 (RBM45) protein in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of ALS patients. This protein contains sequence similarities to TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) and fused-in-sarcoma (FUS) that are contained in cytoplasmic inclusions of ALS and FTLD-TDP or FTLD-FUS patients. To further characterize RBM45, we first verified the presence of RBM45 in CSF and spinal cord tissue extracts of ALS patients by immunoblot. We next used immunohistochemistry to examine the subcellular distribution of RBM45 and observed in a punctate staining pattern within nuclei of neurons and glia in the brain and spinal cord. We also detected RBM45 cytoplasmic inclusions in 91 % of ALS, 100 % of FTLD-TDP and 75 % of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) cases. The most extensive RBM45 pathology was observed in patients that harbor the C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion. These RBM45 inclusions were observed in spinal cord motor neurons, glia and neurons of the dentate gyrus. By confocal microscopy, RBM45 co-localizes with ubiquitin and TDP-43 in inclusion bodies. In neurons containing RBM45 cytoplasmic inclusions we often detected the protein in a punctate pattern within the nucleus that lacked either TDP-43 or ubiquitin. We identified RBM45 using a proteomic screen of CSF from ALS and control subjects for candidate biomarkers, and link this RNA-binding protein to inclusion pathology in ALS, FTLD-TDP and AD.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-012-1045-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; TDP-43; RNA-binding protein; RBM45; C9ORF72
Intronic expansion of the GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat within the C9ORF72 gene causes frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease in both familial and sporadic cases. Initial reports indicate that this variant within the frontotemporal dementia/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis spectrum is associated with transactive response DNA binding protein (TDP-43) proteinopathy. The amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease phenotype is not yet well characterized. We report the clinical and pathological phenotypes associated with pathogenic C9ORF72 mutations in a cohort of 563 cases from Northern England, including 63 with a family history of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. One hundred and fifty-eight cases from the cohort (21 familial, 137 sporadic) were post-mortem brain and spinal cord donors. We screened DNA for the C9ORF72 mutation, reviewed clinical case histories and undertook pathological evaluation of brain and spinal cord. Control DNA samples (n = 361) from the same population were also screened. The C9ORF72 intronic expansion was present in 62 cases [11% of the cohort; 27/63 (43%) familial, 35/500 (7%) cases with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease]. Disease duration was significantly shorter in cases with C9ORF72-related amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (30.5 months) compared with non-C9ORF72 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease (36.3 months, P < 0.05). C9ORF72 cases included both limb and bulbar onset disease and all cases showed combined upper and lower motor neuron degeneration (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Thus, clinically, C9ORF72 cases show the features of a relatively rapidly progressive, but otherwise typical, variant of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis associated with both familial and sporadic presentations. Dementia was present in the patient or a close family member in 22/62 cases with C9ORF72 mutation (35%) based on diagnoses established from retrospective clinical case note review that may underestimate significant cognitive changes in late disease. All the C9ORF72 mutation cases showed classical amyotrophic lateral sclerosis pathology with TDP-43 inclusions in spinal motor neurons. Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions and glial inclusions positive for p62 immunostaining in non-motor regions were strongly over-represented in the C9ORF72 cases. Extra-motor pathology in the frontal cortex (P < 0.0005) and the hippocampal CA4 subfield neurons (P < 0.0005) discriminated C9ORF72 cases strongly from the rest of the cohort. Inclusions in CA4 neurons were not present in non-C9ORF72 cases, indicating that this pathology predicts mutation status.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72; dementia; neurodegeneration
We sought to describe the antemortem clinical and neuroimaging features among patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions (FTLD-TDP).
Subjects were recruited from a consecutive series of patients with a primary neuropathologic diagnosis of FTLD-TDP and antemortem MRI. Twenty-eight patients met entry criteria: 9 with type 1, 5 with type 2, and 10 with type 3 FTLD-TDP. Four patients had too sparse FTLD-TDP pathology to be subtyped. Clinical, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging features of these cases were reviewed. Voxel-based morphometry was used to assess regional gray matter atrophy in relation to a group of 50 cognitively normal control subjects.
Clinical diagnosis varied between the groups: semantic dementia was only associated with type 1 pathology, whereas progressive nonfluent aphasia and corticobasal syndrome were only associated with type 3. Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia and frontotemporal dementia with motor neuron disease were seen in type 2 or type 3 pathology. The neuroimaging analysis revealed distinct patterns of atrophy between the pathologic subtypes: type 1 was associated with asymmetric anterior temporal lobe atrophy (either left- or right-predominant) with involvement also of the orbitofrontal lobes and insulae; type 2 with relatively symmetric atrophy of the medial temporal, medial prefrontal, and orbitofrontal-insular cortices; and type 3 with asymmetric atrophy (either left- or right-predominant) involving more dorsal areas including frontal, temporal, and inferior parietal cortices as well as striatum and thalamus. No significant atrophy was seen among patients with too sparse pathology to be subtyped.
FTLD-TDP subtypes have distinct clinical and neuroimaging features, highlighting the relevance of FTLD-TDP subtyping to clinicopathologic correlation.
= behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia;
= corticobasal syndrome;
= Clinical Dementia Rating;
= false discovery rate;
= frontotemporal dementia;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions;
= fused in sarcoma;
= Mini-Mental State Examination;
= motor neuron disease;
= progressive nonfluent aphasia;
= TAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa;
= University of California, San Francisco;
= voxel-based morphometry.
The TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) has been identified as the major disease protein in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin inclusions (FTLD-U), defining a novel class of neurodegenerative conditions: the TDP-43 proteinopathies. The first pathogenic mutations in the gene encoding TDP-43 (TARDBP) were recently reported in familial and sporadic ALS patients, supporting a direct role for TDP-43 in neurodegeneration. In this study, we report the identification and functional analyses of two novel and one known mutation in TARDBP that we identified as a result of extensive mutation analyses in a cohort of 296 patients with variable neurodegenerative diseases associated with TDP-43 histopathology. Three different heterozygous missense mutations in exon 6 of TARDBP (p.M337V, p.N345K, and p.I383V) were identified in the analysis of 92 familial ALS patients (3.3%), while no mutations were detected in 24 patients with sporadic ALS or 180 patients with other TDP-43–positive neurodegenerative diseases. The presence of p.M337V, p.N345K, and p.I383V was excluded in 825 controls and 652 additional sporadic ALS patients. All three mutations affect highly conserved amino acid residues in the C-terminal part of TDP-43 known to be involved in protein-protein interactions. Biochemical analysis of TDP-43 in ALS patient cell lines revealed a substantial increase in caspase cleaved fragments, including the ∼25 kDa fragment, compared to control cell lines. Our findings support TARDBP mutations as a cause of ALS. Based on the specific C-terminal location of the mutations and the accumulation of a smaller C-terminal fragment, we speculate that TARDBP mutations may cause a toxic gain of function through novel protein interactions or intracellular accumulation of TDP-43 fragments leading to apoptosis.
The abnormal accumulation of disease proteins in neuronal cells of the brain is a characteristic feature of many neurodegenerative diseases. Rare mutations in the genes that encode the accumulating proteins have been identified in these disorders and are crucial for the development of cell and animal models used to study neurodegeneration. Recently, the TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) was identified as the disease accumulating protein in patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin inclusions (FTLD-U) and in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). TDP-43 was also found in the brains of 20–30% of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we evaluated whether mutations in TDP-43 cause disease in a cohort of 296 patients presenting with FTLD, ALS or AD. We identified three missense mutations in three out of 92 familial ALS patients (3.3%), and no mutations in AD or FTLD patients. All the identified mutations clustered in exon 6, which codes for a highly conserved region in the C-terminal part of the TDP-43 protein, which is known to be involved in the interaction of TDP-43 with other proteins. We conclude that mutations in TDP-43 are a rare cause of familial ALS, but so far are not found in other neurodegenerative diseases.
Neuronal and glial changes associated with tau, TAR DNA binding protein of ~43 kD (TDP-43), and fused in sarcoma (FUS) together constitute the pathologic spectrum of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Most patients with FTLD present with prominent behavior or language changes, sometimes accompanied by extrapyramidal symptoms or motor neuron disease. Identification of FTLD patients with mutations in genes for tau, TDP-43, and FUS lends strong support for their pathogenic roles in FTLD, and elucidation of their dysfunction will pave the way for development of substrate specific therapy. However, there remains no reliable biomarker for early detection of FTLD or prediction of underlying FTLD pathologic change. Clinical syndromes usually reflects the earliest affected brain regions where atrophy can be visualized on structural MRI, but neither clinical nor structural imaging-based biomarkers has been accurately correlated with underlying pathology on the individual patient level. Biochemical markers in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) have also been investigated in FTLD and related disorders, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). However, their accuracy and pathologic significance need to be confirmed in future multi-center studies. Here we review the progress made in FTLD biomarkers, including clinical phenotype/feature characterization, neuropsychological analysis, CSF and plasma analytes, and patterns of brain atrophy and network dysfunction detectable on brain imaging. Given the pathologic overlap of FTLD with ALS and PSP, collaboration with specialists in those fields will be essential in the translation of promising FTLD biomarkers into clinical practice.
Biomarker; diagnosis; frontotemporal dementia; tau; tauopathy; TDP-43
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) are neurodegenerative diseases with clinical and pathological overlap. Landmark discoveries of mutations in the transactive response DNA-binding protein (TDP-43) and fused in sarcoma/translocated in liposarcoma (FUS/TLS) as causative of ALS and FTLD, combined with the abnormal aggregation of these proteins, have initiated a shifting paradigm for the underlying pathogenesis of multiple neurodegenerative diseases. TDP-43 and FUS/TLS are both RNA/DNA-binding proteins with striking structural and functional similarities. Their association with ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases is redirecting research efforts toward understanding the role of RNA processing regulation in neurodegeneration.
To determine the extent of transactivation response DNA-binding protein with a molecular weight of 43 kDa (TDP-43) pathology in the central nervous system of patients with clinically and autopsy-confirmed diagnoses of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with and without motor neuron disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with and without cognitive impairment.
Performance of immunohistochemical whole–central nervous system scans for evidence of pathological TDP-43 and retrospective clinical medical record review.
An academic medical center.
We included 64 patients with clinically and pathologically confirmed frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions with or without motor neuron disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with or without cognitive impairment.
Main Outcome Measure
Neuronal and glial TDP-43 pathology.
We found evidence of neuronal and glial TDP-43 pathology in all disease groups throughout the neuraxis, albeit with variations in the frequency, morphology, and distribution of TDP-43 lesions. Moreover, the major clinical manifestations (eg, cognitive impairments, motor neuron signs, extrapyramidal symptoms, neuropsychiatric features) were reflected by the predominant distribution and burden of TDP-43 pathology.
These findings strongly suggest that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal lobar degeneration with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neuron disease, and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions are different manifestations of a multiple-system TDP-43 proteinopathy linked to similar mechanisms of neurodegeneration.
Pathologic TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is a disease protein in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We studied the presence, frequency, and distribution of TDP-43 pathology by immunohistochemistry and biochemistry in a series of clinically well-characterized tauopathy patient brains, including 182 Alzheimer disease (AD), 39 corticobasal degeneration, 77 progressive supranuclear palsy, and 12 Pick disease cases and investigated the clinical impact of concomitant TDP-43 pathology in these cases. TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 pathology was found in 25.8% of AD cases. It was restricted to the dentate gyrus and entorhinal cortex in approximately 75% of cases; approximately 25% showed more widespread TDP-43 pathology in frontal and temporal cortices, resembling the FTLD-U subtype associated with progranulin mutations. TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 pathology in AD was associated with significantly longer disease duration, but there was no association with the clinical presentation (148 cases diagnosed as AD and 34 cases diagnosed as frontotemporal lobar degeneration). Progressive supranuclear palsy and Pick disease cases showed no TDP-43 inclusions and no biochemical alterations of TDP-43. There was, however, a unique, predominantly glial TDP-43 pathology with staining of astrocytic plaque-like structures and coiled bodies in 15.4% of corticobasal degeneration cases; this was associated with biochemical TDP-43 changes similar to those in FTLD-U. These findings provide further insight into the burden and clinical significance of TDP-43 pathology in disorders other than FTLD-U and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Alzheimer disease; Corticobasal degeneration; Frontotemporal dementia; Tauopathy; TDP-43
Mutations in the gene encoding the fused in sarcoma (FUS) protein are responsible for ~3% of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and <1% of sporadic ALS (ALS-FUS). Descriptions of the associated neuropathology are few and largely restricted to individual case reports. To better define the neuropathology associated with FUS mutations, we have undertaken a detailed comparative analysis of six cases of ALS-FUS that include sporadic and familial cases, with both juvenile and adult onset, and with four different FUS mutations. We found significant pathological heterogeneity among our cases, with two distinct patterns that correlated with the disease severity and the specific mutation. Frequent basophilic inclusions and round FUS-immunoreactive (FUS-ir) neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI) were a consistent feature of our early-onset cases, including two with the p.P525L mutation. In contrast, our late-onset cases, that included two with the p.R521C mutation, had tangle-like NCI and numerous FUS-ir glial cytoplasmic inclusions. Double-labeling experiments demonstrated that many of the glial inclusions were in oligodendrocytes. Comparison with the neuropathology of cases of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with FUS-ir pathology showed significant differences and suggests that FUS mutations are associated with a distinct pathobiology.
fused in sarcoma; FUS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALS; basophilic inclusions
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by disturbances of behavior and personality and different types of language impairment with or without concomitant features of motor neuron disease or parkinsonism. FTLD is characterized by atrophy of the frontal and anterior temporal brain lobes. Detailed neuropathological studies have elicited proteinopathies defined by inclusions of hyperphosphorylated microtubule-associated protein tau, TAR DNA-binding protein TDP-43, fused-in-sarcoma or yet unidentified proteins in affected brain regions. Rather than the type of proteinopathy, the site of neurodegeneration correlates relatively well with the clinical presentation of FTLD. Molecular genetic studies identified five disease genes, of which the gene encoding the tau protein (MAPT), the growth factor precursor gene granulin (GRN), and C9orf72 with unknown function are most frequently mutated. Rare mutations were also identified in the genes encoding valosin-containing protein (VCP) and charged multivesicular body protein 2B (CHMP2B). These genes are good markers to distinguish underlying neuropathological phenotypes. Due to the complex landscape of FTLD diseases, combined characterization of clinical, imaging, biological and genetic biomarkers is essential to establish a detailed diagnosis. Although major progress has been made in FTLD research in recent years, further studies are needed to completely map out and correlate the clinical, pathological and genetic entities, and to understand the underlying disease mechanisms. In this review, we summarize the current state of the rapidly progressing field of genetic, neuropathological and clinical research of this intriguing condition.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Proteinopathy; MAPT; GRN; C9orf72; VCP; CHMP2B; Tau; TDP-43; FUS