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
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.
Palmitoyl acyl transferases (PATs) play a critical role in protein trafficking and function. Huntingtin interacting protein 14 (HIP14) is a PAT that acts on proteins associated with neuronal transmission, suggesting that deficient protein palmitoylation by HIP14, which occurs in the YAC128 model of Huntington’s disease (HD), might have deleterious effects on neurobehavioral processing. HIP14 knockout mice show biochemical and neuropathological changes in the striatum, a forebrain region affected by HD that guides behavioral choice and motor flexibility. Thus, we evaluated the performance of these mice in two tests of motor ability: nest-building and plus maze turning behavior. Relative to wild-type controls, HIP14 knockout mice show impaired nest building and decreased turning in the plus maze. When we recorded the activity of striatal neurons during plus-maze performance, we found faster firing rates and dysregulated spike bursting in HIP14 knockouts compared to wild-type. There was also less correlated firing between simultaneously recorded neuronal pairs in the HIP14 knockouts. Overall, our results indicate that HIP14 is critically involved in behavioral modulation of striatal processing. In the absence of HIP14, striatal neurons become dysfunctional, leading to impaired motor behavior.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded polyglutamine repeat in the huntingtin protein. Neuropathology in the basal ganglia and in the cerebral cortex has been linked to the motor and cognitive symptoms whereas recent work has suggested that the hypothalamus might be involved in the metabolic dysfunction. Several mouse models of HD that display metabolic dysfunction have hypothalamic pathology, and expression of mutant huntingtin in the hypothalamus has been causally linked to the development of metabolic dysfunction in mice. Although the pathogenic mechanisms by which mutant huntingtin exerts its toxic functions in the HD brain are not fully known, several studies have implicated a role for the lysososomal degradation pathway of autophagy. Interestingly, changes in autophagy in the hypothalamus have been associated with the development of metabolic dysfunction in wild-type mice. We hypothesized that expression of mutant huntingtin might lead to changes in the autophagy pathway in the hypothalamus in mice with metabolic dysfunction. We therefore investigated whether there were changes in basal levels of autophagy in a mouse model expressing a fragment of 853 amino acids of mutant huntingtin selectively in the hypothalamus using a recombinant adeno-associate viral vector approach as well as in the transgenic BACHD mice. We performed qRT-PCR and Western blot to investigate the mRNA and protein expression levels of selected autophagy markers. Our results show that basal levels of autophagy are maintained in the hypothalamus despite the presence of metabolic dysfunction in both mouse models. Furthermore, although there were no major changes in autophagy in the striatum and cortex of BACHD mice, we detected modest, but significant differences in levels of some markers in mice at 12 months of age. Taken together, our results indicate that overexpression of mutant huntingtin in mice do not significantly perturb basal levels of autophagy.
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.
Peripheral nerve transection and neuroma-in-continuity injuries are associated with permanent functional deficits, often despite successful end-organ reinnervation. Axonal misdirection with non-specific reinnervation, frustrated regeneration and axonal attrition are believed to be among the anatomical substrates that underlie the poor functional recovery associated with these devastating injuries. Yet, functional deficits associated with axonal misdirection in experimental neuroma-in-continuity injuries have not yet been studied. We hypothesized that experimental neuroma-in-continuity injuries would result in motor axon misdirection and attrition with proportional persistent functional deficits. The femoral nerve misdirection model was exploited to assess major motor pathway misdirection and axonal attrition over a spectrum of experimental nerve injuries, with neuroma-in-continuity injuries simulated by the combination of compression and traction forces in 42 male rats. Sciatic nerve injuries were employed in an additional 42 rats, to evaluate the contribution of axonal misdirection to locomotor deficits by a ladder rung task up to 12 weeks. Retrograde motor neuron labeling techniques were utilized to determine the degree of axonal misdirection and attrition. Characteristic histological neuroma-in-continuity features were demonstrated in the neuroma-in-continuity groups and poor functional recovery was seen despite successful nerve regeneration and muscle reinnervation. Good positive and negative correlations were observed respectively between axonal misdirection (p<.0001, r2=.67), motor neuron counts (attrition) (p<.0001, r2=.69) and final functional deficits. We demonstrate prominent motor axon misdirection and attrition in neuroma-in-continuity and transection injuries of mixed motor nerves that contribute to the long-term functional deficits. Although widely accepted in theory, to our knowledge, this is the first experimental evidence to convincingly demonstrate these correlations with data inclusive of the neuroma-in-continuity spectrum. This work emphasizes the need to focus on strategies that promote both robust and accurate nerve regeneration to optimize functional recovery. It also demonstrates that clinically relevant neuroma-in-continuity injuries can now also be subjected to experimental investigation.
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.
An interim report of a case-control study was conducted to explore the role of environmental factors in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Sixty-six cases and 66 age- and gender-matched controls were recruited. Detailed information regarding residence history, occupational history, smoking, physical activity, and other factors was obtained using questionnaires. The association of ALS with potential risk factors, including smoking, physical activity and chemical exposure, was investigated using conditional logistic regression models. As compared to controls, a greater number of our randomly selected ALS patients reported exposure to fertilizers to treat private yards and gardens and occupational exposure to pesticides in the last 30 years than our randomly selected control cases. Smoking, occupational exposures to metals, dust/fibers/fumes/gas and radiation, and physical activity were not associated with ALS when comparing the randomly selected ALS patients to the control subjects. To further explore and confirm results, exposures over several time frames, including 0–10 and 10–30 years earlier, were considered, and analyses were stratified by age and gender. Pesticide and fertilizer exposure were both significantly associated with ALS in the randomly selected ALS patients. While study results need to be interpreted cautiously given the small sample size and the lack of direct exposure measures, these results suggest that environmental and particularly residential exposure factors warrant close attention in studies examining risk factors of ALS.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) are a major cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), whereby the mutant proteins misfold and aggregate to form intracellular inclusions. We report that both small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) 1 and SUMO2/3 modify ALS-linked SOD1 mutant proteins at lysine 75 in a motoneuronal cell line, the cell type affected in ALS. In these cells, SUMO1 modification occurred on both lysine 75 and lysine 9 of SOD1, and modification of ALS-linked SOD1 mutant proteins by SUMO3, rather than by SUMO1, significantly increased the stability of the proteins and accelerated intracellular aggregate formation. These findings suggest the contribution of sumoylation, particularly by SUMO3, to the protein aggregation process underlying the pathogenesis of ALS.
Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant, progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused by expansion of CAG repeats in the huntingtin gene. Tissue transglutaminase 2 (TG2), a multi-functional enzyme, was found to be increased both in HD patients and in mouse models of the disease. Furthermore, beneficial effects have been reported from the genetic ablation of TG2 in R6/2 and R6/1 mouse lines. To further evaluate the validity of this target for the treatment of HD, we examined the effects of TG2 deletion in two genetic mouse models of HD: R6/2 CAG 240 and zQ175 knock in (KI). Contrary to previous reports, under rigorous experimental conditions we found that TG2 ablation had no effect on either motor or cognitive deficits, or on the weight loss. In addition, under optimal husbandry conditions, TG2 ablation did not extend R6/2 lifespan. Moreover, TG2 deletion did not change the huntingtin aggregate load in cortex or striatum and did not decrease the brain atrophy observed in either mouse line. Finally, no amelioration of the dysregulation of striatal and cortical gene markers was detected. We conclude that TG2 is not a valid therapeutic target for the treatment of HD.
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
Oligomeric forms of Aβ peptide are most likely the main synaptotoxic and neurotoxic agent in Alzheimer’s disease. Toxicity of various Aβ oligomeric forms has been confirmed in vivo and also in vitro. However, in vitro preparations were found to be orders of magnitude less toxic than oligomers obtained from in vivo sources. This difference can be explained by the presence of a covalent cross-link, which would stabilize the oligomer. In the present work, we have characterized the structural properties of Aβ dimers and trimers stabilized by di- and tri-tyrosine cross-links. Using ion mobility mass spectrometry we have compared the collisional cross-section of non-cross-linked and cross-linked species. We have found that the presence of cross-links does not generate new unique forms but rather shifts the equilibrium towards more compact oligomer types that can also be detected for non-cross-linked peptide. In consequence, more extended forms, probable precursors of off-pathway oligomeric species, become relatively destabilized in cross-linked oligomers and the pathway of oligomer evolution becomes redirected towards fibrillar structures.
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
The in situ proximity ligation assay (isPLA) is an increasingly used technology for in situ detection of protein interactions, post-translational modifications, and spatial relationships of antigens in cells and tissues, in general. In order to test its performance we compared isPLA with immunofluorescence microscopy by analyzing protein interactions in cytoplasmic protein aggregates, so-called Mallory Denk bodies (MDBs). These structures represent protein inclusions in hepatocytes typically found in human steatohepatitis and they can be generated in mice by feeding of 3,5-diethoxy-carbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine (DDC). We investigated the colocalization of all three key MDB components, namely keratin 8 (K8), keratin 18 (K18), and p62 (sequestosome 1) by isPLA and immunofluorescence microscopy. Sensitivity and specificity of isPLA was assessed by using Krt8−/− and Krt18−/− mice as biological controls, along with a series of technical controls. isPLA signal visualization is a robust technology with excellent sensitivity and specificity. The biological relevance of signals generated critically depends on the performance of antibodies used, which requires careful testing of antibodies like in immunofluorescence microscopy. There is a clear advantage of isPLA in visualizing protein co-localization, particularly when antigens are present at markedly different concentrations. Furthermore, isPLA is superior to confocal microscopy with respect to spatial resolution of colocalizing antigens. Disadvantages compared to immunofluorescence are increased costs and longer duration of the laboratory protocol.
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.
The length of the huntingtin (HTT) CAG repeat is strongly correlated with both age at onset of Huntington’s disease (HD) symptoms and age at death of HD patients. Dichotomous analysis comparing HD to controls is widely used to study the effects of HTT CAG repeat expansion. However, a potentially more powerful approach is a continuous analysis strategy that takes advantage of all of the different CAG lengths, to capture effects that are expected to be critical to HD pathogenesis.
We used continuous and dichotomous approaches to analyze microarray gene expression data from 107 human control and HD lymphoblastoid cell lines. Of all probes found to be significant in a continuous analysis by CAG length, only 21.4% were so identified by a dichotomous comparison of HD versus controls. Moreover, of probes significant by dichotomous analysis, only 33.2% were also significant in the continuous analysis. Simulations revealed that the dichotomous approach would require substantially more than 107 samples to either detect 80% of the CAG-length correlated changes revealed by continuous analysis or to reduce the rate of significant differences that are not CAG length-correlated to 20% (n = 133 or n = 206, respectively). Given the superior power of the continuous approach, we calculated the correlation structure between HTT CAG repeat lengths and gene expression levels and created a freely available searchable website, “HD CAGnome,” that allows users to examine continuous relationships between HTT CAG and expression levels of ∼20,000 human genes.
Our results reveal limitations of dichotomous approaches compared to the power of continuous analysis to study a disease where human genotype-phenotype relationships strongly support a role for a continuum of CAG length-dependent changes. The compendium of HTT CAG length-gene expression level relationships found at the HD CAGnome now provides convenient routes for discovery of candidates influenced by the HD mutation.
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.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1, EC 22.214.171.124) 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