Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressively paralytic neurodegenerative disease that can be caused by mutations in Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1). Transgenic mice that over-express mutant SOD1 develop paralysis and accumulate aggregates of mutant protein in the brainstem and spinal cord. The present study uses a cell culture model to demonstrate αB-crystallin is capable of reducing aggregation of mutant SOD1. To test the role of αB-crystallin in modulating SOD1 aggregation in vivo, αB-crystallin deficient mice were bred to mice expressing two different SOD1 mutants (G37R and L126Z mutants). Although completely eliminating αB-crystallin reduced the interval to disease endstage by 20–30 days in mice expressing either mutant, there were no detectable changes in the levels of sedimentable, SOD1 aggregates in the spinal cord of symptomatic mice. Because αB-crystallin is most abundantly expressed in muscle, we expected that the loss of this chaperone would leave this tissue vulnerable to mutant SOD1 aggregation. However, there was no evidence of mutant SOD1 aggregation in the muscle of mice lacking αB-crystallin. Our findings indicate that a significant perturbation to the protein homeostasis network of muscle is not sufficient to induce the aggregation of misfolded mutant SOD1. These outcomes have implications regarding the role of chaperones in modulating the tissue specific accumulations of misfolded SOD1.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase; αB-crystallin; protein misfolding; heat shock proteins
Transgenic mice that express mutant amyloid precursor protein (APPsi) using tet-Off vector systems provide an alternative model for assessing short- and long-term effects of Aβ-targeting therapies on phenotypes related to the deposition of Alzheimer-type amyloid. Here we use such a model, termed APPsi:tTA, to determine what phenotypes persist in mice with high amyloid burden after new production of APP/Aβ has been suppressed. We find that 12-13 month old APPsi:tTA mice are impaired in cognitive tasks that assess short- and long-term memories. Acutely suppressing new APPsi/Aβ production produced highly significant improvements in performance short-term spatial memory tasks; which upon continued suppression translated to superior performance in more demanding tasks that assess long-term spatial memory and working memory. Deficits in episodic-like memory and cognitive flexibility, however, were more persistent. Arresting mutant APPsi production caused a rapid decline in the brain levels of soluble APP ectodomains, full-length APP, and APP C-terminal fragments. As expected, amyloid deposits persisted after new APP/Aβ production was inhibited whereas, unexpectedly, we detected persistent pools of solubilizable, relatively mobile, Aβ42. Additionally, we observed persistent levels of Aβ immunoreactive entities that were of a size consistent with SDS-resistant oligomeric assemblies. Thus, in this model with significant amyloid pathology, a rapid amelioration of cognitive deficits was observed despite persistent levels of oligomeric Aβ assemblies and low, but detectable solubilizable Aβ42 peptides. These findings implicate complex relationships between accumulating Aβ and activities of APP, soluble APP ectodomains, and/or APP CTFs in mediating cognitive deficits in this model of amyloidosis.
To understand how microglial cell function may change with aging, various protocols have been developed to isolate microglia from the young and aged central nervous system (CNS). Here we report modification of an existing protocol that is marked by less debris contamination and improved yields and demonstrates that microglial functions are varied and dependent on age. Specifically, we found that microglia from aged mice constitutively secrete greater amounts of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) relative to microglia from younger mice and are less responsive to stimulation. Also, microglia from aged mice have reduced glutathione levels and internalize less amyloid beta peptide (Aβ) while microglia from mice of all ages do not retain the amyloid beta peptide for a significant length of time. These studies offer further support for the idea that microglial cell function changes with aging. They suggest that microglial Aβ phagocytosis results in Aβ redistribution rather than biophysical degradation in vivo and thereby provide mechanistic insight to the lack of amyloid burden elimination by parenchymal microglia in aged adults and those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Microglia; Alzheimer’s disease; Beta amyloid; Glutathione; Cytokine; IL-6; TNF-α; Aging
Mutations in SOD1 cause FALS. The Cu binding capacity of SOD1 has spawned hypotheses that implicate metal-mediated production of reactive species as a potential mechanism of toxicity. In past experiments, we have tested such hypotheses by mutating residues in SOD1 that normally coordinate the binding of Cu, finding that such mutants retain the capacity to induce motor neuron disease. We now describe the lack of disease in mice that express a variant of human SOD1 in which residues that coordinate the binding of Cu and Zn have been mutated (SODMD). SODMD encodes 3 disease-causing and 4 experimental mutations that ultimately eliminate all histidines involved in the binding of metals; and includes one disease-causing and one experimental mutation that eliminate secondary metal binding at C6 and C111. We show that the combined effect of these mutations produces a protein that is unstable but does not aggregate on its own, is not toxic, and does not induce disease when co-expressed with high levels of wild-type SOD1. In cell culture models, we determine that the combined mutation of C6 and C111 to G and S, respectively, dramatically reduces the aggregation propensity of SODMD and may account for the lack of toxicity for this mutant.
superoxide dismutase 1; motor neuron disease; transgenic mouse models; protein aggregation
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) cause familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Disease causing mutations have diverse consequences on the activity and half-life of the protein, ranging from complete inactivity and short half-life to full activity and long-half-life. Uniformly, disease causing mutations induce the protein to misfold and aggregate and such aggregation tendencies are readily visualized by over-expression of the proteins in cultured cells. In the present study we have investigated the potential of using immunoblotting of proteins separated by Blue-Native gel electrophoresis (BNGE) as a means to identify soluble multimeric forms of mutant protein. We find that over-expressed wild-type human SOD1 (hSOD1) is generally not prone to form soluble high molecular weight entities that can be separated by BNGE. For ALS mutant SOD1, we observe that for all mutants examined (A4V, G37R, G85R, G93A, and L126Z), immunoblots of BN-gels separating protein solubilized by digitonin demonstrated varied amounts of high molecular weight immunoreactive entities. These entities lacked reactivity to ubiquitin and were partially dissociated by reducing agents. With the exception of the G93A mutant, these entities were not reactive to the C4F6 conformational antibody. Collectively, these data demonstrate that BNGE can be used to assess the formation of soluble multimeric assemblies of mutant SOD1.
Recently mutations in ubiquilin-2 were identified in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and ALS/dementia providing direct evidence for the importance of this protein in neurodegenerative diseases. Histological studies have suggested that ubiquilin-1/-2 are associated with various pathological inclusions including Lewy bodies in Parkinson’s disease, neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s disease, polyQ inclusions in expansion repeat diseases and various proteinopathies associated with ALS and frontotemporal dementia. Using specific ubiquilin-2 antibodies and a series of transgenic mouse models of proteinopathies associated with neurodegenerative disease, we show that ubiquilin-2 preferentially associates with huntingtin polyQ expansion aggregates compared to α-synuclein, tau and several other types of protein inclusions. These results were confirmed by similar findings for ubiquilin-1 and -2 in human brain tissue sections, where accumulation was observed in huntingtin inclusions, but only infrequently in other types of protein inclusions. In cultured cells, ubiquilin-2 associates with huntingtin/polyQ aggregates, but this is not compromised by disease-causing mutations. Although ubiquilin proteins can function as chaperones to shuttle proteins for degradation, there is persistent co-localization between ubiquilin-2 and polyQ aggregated proteins during disease progression in the N586-82Q-C63 Huntington’s disease mouse model. Thus, the co-localization of ubiquilin-2 with the huntingtin aggregates does not appear to facilitate aggregate removal.
Huntington’s disease; inclusions; ubiquilin; transgenic mice
The extracellular accumulation of β-amyloid peptide is a key trigger in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In humans, amyloid deposition precedes the appearance of intracellular inclusion pathology formed by cytosolic proteins such as Tau, α-synuclein and TDP-43. These secondary pathologies have not been observed in mice that model Alzheimer-type amyloidosis by expressing mutant amyloid precursor protein, with or without mutant presenilin 1. The lack of secondary pathology in these models has made it difficult to establish how amyloid deposition initiates the cascade of events that leads to secondary intracellular pathology that characterizes human AD. In transgenic mice that model Alzheimer-type amyloidosis, we sought to determine whether there is evidence of altered cytosolic protein folding by assessing whether amyloid deposition causes normally soluble proteins to misfold. Using a method that involved detergent extraction and sedimentation coupled with proteomic approaches, we identified numerous cytosolic proteins that show specific losses in solubility as amyloid accumulates. The proteins identified included glycolytic enzymes and members of the 14-3-3 chaperone family. A substantial accumulation of lysine 48-linked polyubiquitin was also detected. Overall, the data demonstrate that the accumulation of amyloid by some manner causes the loss of solubility intracellular cytosolic proteins.
Greater than 160 missense mutations in copper-zinc superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) can cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These mutations produce conformational changes that reveal novel antibody binding epitopes. A monoclonal antibody, clone C4F6 - raised against the ALS variant G93A of SOD1, has been identified as specifically recognizing a conformation shared by many ALS mutants of SOD1. Attempts to determine whether non-mutant SOD1 adopts a C4F6-reactive conformation in spinal tissues of sporadic ALS (sALS) patients has produced inconsistent results. To define the epitope recognized by C4F6, we tested its binding to a panel of recombinant ALS-SOD1 proteins expressed in cultured cells, producing data to suggest that the C4F6 epitope minimally contains amino acids 90–93, which are normally folded into a tight hairpin loop. Multiple van der Waals interactions between the 90–93 loop and a loop formed by amino acids 37–42, particularly a leucine at position 38, form a stable structure termed the β-plug. Based on published modeling predictions, we suggest that the binding of C4F6 to multiple ALS mutants of SOD1 occurs when the local structure within the β-plug, including the loop at 90–93, is destabilized. In using the antibody to stain tissues from transgenic mice or humans, the specificity of the antibody for ALS mutant SOD1 was influenced by antigen retrieval protocols. Using conditions that showed the best discrimination between normal and misfolded mutant SOD1 in cell and mouse models, we could find no obvious difference in C4F6 reactivity to spinal motor neurons between sALS and controls tissues.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi: 10.1186/2051-5960-2-55) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Superoxide dismutase 1; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C4F6 epitope; Conformational antibodies
Superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) proteins harboring mutations linked to
familial Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (FALS) uniformly show heightened
potential to form high molecular weight structures. Here, we examine the domains
of SOD1 that are involved in forming these structures (aggregates) and study the
role of intra and intermolecular disulfide bonds. An analysis of disease
mutations identified to date reveals a non-random distribution with predominant
occurrence at residues within highly conserved β-strands or at highly
conserved residues in loop domains. Using a cell transfection assay for
aggregation, we determined that no single domain in SOD1 is indispensable in the
formation of sedimentable aggregates, suggesting multiple potential motifs in
the protein mediate non-native interactions. By a cell-free aggregation assay,
analysis of transgenic mouse tissues, and mutagenesis approaches, we found
evidence that redox conditions may modulate SOD1 aggregation; reduction of the
native intra-molecular disulfide bonds may predispose SOD1 to unfolding and
aggregation, whereas non-native inter-molecular disulfide linkages may help
stabilize aggregates in vivo. The results suggest a possible mechanism for
diversity in the structures formed by different SOD1mutants; and define a
potential contribution of redox conditions to SOD1 aggregation.
Recent studies have demonstrated the potential utility of antibodies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In transgenic mouse models of AD, peripheral and intracerebral administration of Aβ-specific antibodies reduces amyloid burdens to varied extents. The mechanism may involve clearance of pre-existing amyloid plaques or prevention of new amyloid formation. Here we have used two transgenic models, the inducible CamKII-ttAxtetAPP/swe/ind (Line 107) and the APPswe/PS1dE9 (Line 85), to test the ability of intracerebral injection of Aβ antibodies to clear amyloid. Because the production of Aβ peptides in the Line 107 model is inducible, whereas production in Line 85 mice is constitutive, we could study the effects of antibody on pre-existing plaques versus continuous plaque formation. In Line 85, injection of antibody resulted in modest but statistically significant reductions in amyloid burden (average, 14–16%). However, injected antibodies had no effect on amyloid burden in Line 107 under conditions in which the production of Aβ was suppressed, indicating that pre-existing plaques are not rapidly cleared. These results indicate that, in these two models, intracerebral injection of Aβ antibodies produces modest reductions in amyloid deposition; and suggest that the mechanism may involve prevention of new amyloid deposits rather than clearance of pre-existing plaques.
Alzheimer’s disease; AD; immunotherapy; Aβ; antibody; amyloid precursor protein; APP
Many neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and frontotemporal dementia, are proteinopathies that are associated with the aggregation and accumulation of misfolded proteins. While remarkable progress has been made in understanding the triggers of these conditions, several challenges have hampered the translation of preclinical therapies targeting pathways downstream of the initiating proteinopathies. Clinical trials in symptomatic patients using therapies directed toward initiating trigger events have met with little success, prompting concerns that such therapeutics may be of limited efficacy when used in advanced stages of the disease rather than as prophylactics. Herein, we discuss gaps in our understanding of the pathological processes downstream of the trigger and potential strategies to identify common features of the downstream degenerative cascade in multiple CNS proteinopathies, which could potentially lead to the development of common therapeutic targets for multiple disorders.
Disruptions in metal ion homeostasis have been described in association with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for a number of years but the precise mechanism of involvement is poorly understood. Metal ions are especially important to familial ALS cases caused by mutations in the metalloenzyme copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1). To investigate the role of metals in aggregation of mutant SOD1, we have examined the localization of metal ions in a cell culture model of overexpression. Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHO-K1) were transfected to overexpress SOD1 fused to yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) to readily identify the transfected cells and the intracellular aggregates that develop in the cells expressing mutant or wild-type (WT) SOD1. The concentration and distribution of iron, copper, and zinc were determined for four SOD1 mutants (A4V, G37R, H80R, and D125H) as well as a WT SOD1 using X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM). Results demonstrated that the SOD1 aggregates were metal-deficient within the cells, which is consistent with recent in vitro studies. In addition, all SOD1 mutants showed significantly decreased copper content compared to the WT SOD1 cells, regardless of the mutant’s ability to bind copper. These results suggest that SOD1 overexpression creates an unmet demand on the cell for copper. This is particularly true for the SOD1 mutants where copper delivery may also be impaired. Hence, the SOD1 mutants are less stable than WT SOD1 and if copper is limited, aggregate formation of the metal-deficient, mutant SOD1 protein occurs.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; superoxide dismutase; X-ray fluorescence microscopy; synchrotron
By mechanisms yet to be discerned, the co-expression of high levels of wild-type human superoxide dismutase 1 (hSOD1) with variants of hSOD1 encoding mutations linked familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS) hastens the onset of motor neuron degeneration in transgenic mice. Although it is known that spinal cords of paralyzed mice accumulate detergent insoluble forms of WT hSOD1 along with mutant hSOD1, it has been difficult to determine whether there is co-deposition of the proteins in inclusion structures.
In the present study, we use cell culture models of mutant SOD1 aggregation, focusing on the A4V, G37R, and G85R variants, to examine interactions between WT-hSOD1 and misfolded mutant SOD1. In these studies, we fuse WT and mutant proteins to either yellow or red fluorescent protein so that the two proteins can be distinguished within inclusions structures.
Although the interpretation of the data is not entirely straightforward because we have strong evidence that the nature of the fused fluorophores affects the organization of the inclusions that form, our data are most consistent with the idea that normal dimeric WT-hSOD1 does not readily interact with misfolded forms of mutant hSOD1. We also demonstrate the monomerization of WT-hSOD1 by experimental mutation does induce the protein to aggregate, although such monomerization may enable interactions with misfolded mutant SOD1. Our data suggest that WT-hSOD1 is not prone to become intimately associated with misfolded mutant hSOD1 within intracellular inclusions that can be generated in cultured cells.
Mutations in the gene encoding superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) account for about 20% of the cases of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). It is well established that mutations in SOD1, associated with fALS, heighten the propensity of the protein to misfold and aggregate. Although aggregation appears to be a factor in the toxicity of mutant SOD1s, the precise nature of this toxicity has not been elucidated. A number of other studies have now firmly established that raising the levels of wild-type (WT) human SOD1 (hSOD1) proteins can in some manner augment the toxicity of mutant hSOD1 proteins. However, a recent study demonstrated that raising the levels of WT-hSOD1 did not affect disease in mice that harbor a mouse Sod1 gene (mSod1) encoding a well characterized fALS mutation (G86R). In the present study, we sought a potential explanation for the differing effects with WT-hSOD1 on the toxicity of mutant hSOD1 versus mutant mSod1. In the cell culture models used here, we observe poor interactions between WT-hSOD1 and misfolded G86R-mSod1, possibly explaining why over-expression of WT-hSOD1 does not synergize with mutant mSod1 to accelerate the course of the disease in mice.
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) mediated gene expression is a powerful tool for gene therapy and preclinical studies. A comprehensive analysis of CNS cell type tropism, expression levels and biodistribution of different capsid serotypes has not yet been undertaken in neonatal rodents. Our previous studies show that intracerebroventricular injection with AAV2/1 on neonatal day P0 results in widespread CNS expression but the biodistribution is limited if injected beyond neonatal day P1. To extend these observations we explored the effect of timing of injection on tropism and biodistribution of six commonly used pseudotyped AAVs delivered in the cerebral ventricles of neonatal mice. We demonstrate that AAV2/8 and 2/9 resulted in the most widespread biodistribution in the brain. Most serotypes showed varying biodistribution depending on the day of injection. Injection on neonatal day P0 resulted in mostly neuronal transduction, whereas administration in later periods of development (24–84 hours postnatal) resulted in more non-neuronal transduction. AAV2/5 showed widespread transduction of astrocytes irrespective of the time of injection. None of the serotypes tested showed any microglial transduction. This study demonstrates that both capsid serotype and timing of injection influence the regional and cell-type distribution of AAV in neonatal rodents, and emphasizes the utility of pseudotyped AAV vectors for translational gene therapy paradigms.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1, EC 18.104.22.168) 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
Recent research in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) field has been focused on the potential role of the amyloid-β protein that is derived from the transmembrane amyloid precursor protein (APP) in directly mediating cognitive impairment in AD. Transgenic mouse models overexpressing APP develop robust AD-like amyloid pathology in the brain and show various levels of cognitive decline. In the present study, we examined the cognition of the BRI2-Aβ transgenic mouse model in which secreted extracellular Aβ1-40, Aβ1-42 or both Aβ1-40/Aβ1-42 peptides are generated from the BRI-Aβ fusion proteins encoded by the transgenes. BRI2-Aβ mice produce high levels of Aβ peptides and BRI2-Aβ1-42 mice develop amyloid pathology that is similar to the pathology observed in mutant human APP transgenic models.
Using established behavioral tests that reveal deficits in APP transgenic models, BRI2-Aβ1-42 mice showed completely intact cognitive performance at ages both pre and post amyloid plaque formation. BRI2-Aβ mice producing Aβ1-40 or both peptides were also cognitively intact.
These data indicate that high levels of Aβ1-40 or Aβ1-42, or both produced in the absence of APP overexpression do not reproduce memory deficits observed in APP transgenic mouse models. This outcome is supportive of recent data suggesting that APP processing derivatives or the overexpression of full length APP may contribute to cognitive decline in APP transgenic mouse models. Alternatively, Aβ aggregates may impact cognition by a mechanism that is not fully recapitulated in these BRI2-Aβ mouse models.
Alzheimer’s disease; Mouse models; Amyloid-β; Amyloid plaques; Cognition
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) has been subdivided based on the main pathology found in the brains of affected individuals. When the primary pathology is aggregated, hyperphosphorylated tau, the pathological diagnosis is FTLD-tau. When the primary pathology is cytoplasmic and/or nuclear aggregates of phosphorylated TAR-DNA-binding protein (TDP-43), the pathological diagnosis is FTLD-TDP. Notably, TDP-43 pathology can also occur in conjunction with a number of neurodegenerative disorders; however, unknown environmental and genetic factors may regulate this TDP-43 pathology. Using transgenic mouse models of several diseases of the central nervous system, we explored whether a primary proteinopathy might secondarily drive TDP-43 proteinopathy. We found abnormal, cytoplasmic accumulation of phosphorylated TDP-43 specifically in two tau transgenic models, but TDP-43 pathology was absent in mouse models of Aβ deposition, α-synucleinopathy or Huntington’s disease. Though tau pathology showed considerable overlap with cytoplasmic, phosphorylated TDP-43, tau pathology generally preceded TDP-43 pathology. Biochemical analysis confirmed the presence of TDP-43 abnormalities in the tau mice, which showed increased levels of high molecular weight, soluble TDP-43 and insoluble full-length and ~35 kD TDP-43. These data demonstrate that the neurodegenerative cascade associated with a primary tauopathy in tau transgenic mice can also promote TDP-43 abnormalities. These findings provide the first in vivo models to understand how TDP-43 pathology may arise as a secondary consequence of a primary proteinopathy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1123-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Tau; TDP-43; Mouse; Transgenic; Neuropathology, tauopathy; TDP-43 proteinopathies
N-terminal fragments of mutant huntingtin (htt) that terminate between residues 90–115, termed cleavage product A or 1 (cp-A/1), form intracellular and intranuclear inclusion bodies in the brains of patients with Huntington's disease (HD). These fragments appear to be proteolytic products of the full-length protein. Here, we use an HEK293 cell culture model to investigate huntingtin proteolytic processing; previous studies of these cells have demonstrated cleavage of htt to cp-A/1 like htt fragments.
Recombinant N-terminal htt fragments, terminating at residue 171 (also referred to as cp-B/2 like), were efficiently cleaved to produce cp-A/1 whereas fragments representing endogenous caspase, calpain, and metalloproteinase cleavage products, terminating between residues 400–600, were inefficiently cleaved. Using cysteine-labeling techniques and antibody binding mapping, we localized the C-terminus of the cp-A/1 fragments produced by HEK293 cells to sequences minimally limited by cysteine 105 and an antibody epitope composed of residues 115–124. A combination of genetic and pharmacologic approaches to inhibit potential proteases, including γ-secretase and calpain, proved ineffective in preventing production of cp-A/1.
Our findings indicate that HEK293 cells express a protease that is capable of efficiently cleaving cp-B/2 like fragments of htt with normal or expanded glutamine repeats. For reasons that remain unclear, this protease cleaves longer htt fragments, with normal or expanded glutamine expansions, much less efficiently. The protease in HEK293 cells that is capable of generating a cp-A/1 like htt fragment may be a novel protease with a high preference for a cp-B/2-like htt fragment as substrate.
Heat-shock is an acute insult to the mammalian proteome. The sudden elevation in temperature has far-reaching effects on protein metabolism, leads to a rapid inhibition of most protein synthesis, and the induction of protein chaperones. Using heat-shock in cells of neuronal (SH-SY5Y) and glial (CCF-STTG1) lineage, in conjunction with detergent extraction and sedimentation followed by LC-MS/MS proteomic approaches, we sought to identify human proteins that lose solubility upon heat-shock. The two cell lines showed largely overlapping profiles of proteins detected by LC-MS/MS. We identified 58 proteins in detergent insoluble fractions as losing solubility in after heat shock; 10 were common between the 2 cell lines. A subset of the proteins identified by LC-MS/MS was validated by immunoblotting of similarly prepared fractions. Ultimately, we were able to definitively identify 3 proteins as putatively metastable neural proteins; FEN1, CDK1, and TDP-43. We also determined that after heat-shock these cells accumulate insoluble polyubiquitin chains largely linked via lysine 48 (K-48) residues. Collectively, this study identifies human neural proteins that lose solubility upon heat-shock. These proteins may represent components of the human proteome that are vulnerable to misfolding in settings of proteostasis stress.
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.
Recent studies have implicated an N-terminal caspase-6 cleavage product of mutant huntingtin (htt) as an important mediator of toxicity in Huntington's disease (HD). To directly assess the consequences of such fragments on neurologic function, we produced transgenic mice that express a caspase-6 length N-terminal fragment of mutant htt (N586) with both normal (23Q) and disease (82Q) length glutamine repeats. In contrast to mice expressing N586-23Q, mice expressing N586-82Q accumulate large cytoplasmic inclusion bodies that can be visualized with antibodies to epitopes throughout the N586 protein. However, biochemical analyses of aggregated mutant huntingtin in these mice demonstrated that the inclusion bodies are composed largely of a much smaller htt fragment (terminating before residue 115), with lesser amounts of full-length N586-82Q fragments. Mice expressing the N586-82Q fragment show symptoms typical of previously generated mice expressing mutant huntingtin fragments, including failure to maintain weight, small brain weight and reductions in specific mRNAs in the striatum. Uniquely, these N586-82Q mice develop a progressive movement disorder that includes dramatic deficits in motor performance on the rotarod and ataxia. Our findings suggest that caspase-6-derived fragments of mutant htt are capable of inducing novel HD-related phenotypes, but these fragments are not terminal cleavage products as they are subject to further proteolysis. In this scenario, mutant htt fragments derived from caspase 6, or possibly other proteases, could mediate HD pathogenesis via a ‘hit and run' type of mechanism in which caspase-6, or other larger N-terminal fragments, mediate a neurotoxic process before being cleaved to a smaller fragment that accumulates pathologically.
Cerebellar Purkinje neurons (PNs) possess a well characterized propensity to fuse with bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs), producing heterokaryons with Purkinje cell identities. This offers the potential to rescue/repair at risk or degenerating PNs in the inherited ataxias, including Spinocerebellar Ataxia 1 (SCA1), by introducing therapeutic factors through BMDCs to potentially halt or reverse disease progression. In this study, we combined gene therapy and a stem cell-based treatment to attempt repair of at-risk PNs through cell-cell fusion in a Sca1154Q/2Q knock-in mouse model. BMDCs enriched for the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) population were genetically modified using adeno-associated viral vector 7 (AAV7) to carry SCA1 modifier genes and transplanted into irradiated Sca1154Q/2Q mice. Binucleated Purkinje heterokaryons with sex-mismatched donor Y chromosomes were detected and successfully expressed the modifier genes in vivo. Potential effects of the new genome within Purkinje heterokaryons were evaluated using nuclear inclusions (NIs) as a biological marker to reflect possible modifications of the SCA1 disease process. An overall decrease in number of NIs and an increase in the number of surviving PNs were observed in treated Sca1154Q/2Q. Furthermore, Bergmann glia were found to have fusogenic potential with the donor population and reveal another potential route of therapeutic entry into at-risk cells of the SCA1 cerebellum. This study presents a first step towards a proof of principle that combines somatic cellular fusion events with a neuroprotective gene therapy approach for providing potential neuronal protection/repair in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders.
Spinocerebellar Ataxia 1; Bone marrow derived cells; Hematopoietic stem cells; Gene therapy; AAV; Stem cell fusion
The low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP1) and its family members have been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Multiple susceptibility factors converge to metabolic pathways that involve LRP1, including modulation of the processing of amyloid precursor protein (APP) and the clearance of Aβ peptide.
We used the Cre-lox system to lower LRP1 levels in hippocampal neurons of mice that develop Alzheimer-type amyloid by crosses between mice that express Cre recombinase under the transcriptional control of the GFAP promoter, mice that harbor loxp sites in the LRP1 gene, and the APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic model. We compared amyloid plaque numbers in APPswe/PS1dE9 mice lacking LRP1 expression in hippocampus (n = 13) to mice with normal levels of LRP1 (n = 12). Student t-test was used to test whether there were significant differences in plaque numbers and amyloid levels between the groups. A regression model was used to fit two regression lines for these groups, and to compare the rates of Aβ accumulation.
Immunohistochemical analyses demonstrated efficient elimination of LRP1 expression in the CA fields and dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Within hippocampus, we observed no effect on the severity of amyloid deposition, the rate of Aβ40/42 accumulation, or the architecture of amyloid plaques when LRP1 levels were reduced.
Expression of LRP1 by neurons in proximity to senile amyloid plaques does not appear to play a major role in modulating the formation of these proximal deposits or in the appearance of the associated neuritic pathology.