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.
The molecular mechanisms by which polyglutamine (polyQ)-expanded huntingtin (Htt) causes neurodegeneration in Huntington's disease (HD) remain unclear. The malfunction of cellular proteostasis has been suggested as central in HD pathogenesis and also as a target of therapeutic interventions for the treatment of HD. We present results that offer a previously unexplored perspective regarding impaired proteostasis in HD. We find that, under non-stress conditions, the proteostatic capacity of cells expressing full length polyQ-expanded Htt is adequate. Yet, under stress conditions, the presence of polyQ-expanded Htt impairs the heat shock response, a key component of cellular proteostasis. This impaired heat shock response results in a reduced capacity to withstand the damage caused by cellular stress. We demonstrate that in cells expressing polyQ-expanded Htt the levels of heat shock transcription factor 1 (HSF1) are reduced, and, as a consequence, these cells have an impaired a heat shock response. Also, we found reduced HSF1 and HSP70 levels in the striata of HD knock-in mice when compared to wild-type mice. Our results suggests that full length, non-aggregated polyQ-expanded Htt blocks the effective induction of the heat shock response under stress conditions and may thus trigger the accumulation of cellular damage during the course of HD pathogenesis.
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
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1, EC 184.108.40.206) 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
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), which are one cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS), induce misfolding and aggregation of the protein. Misfolding can be detected by the binding of antibodies raised against peptide epitopes that are normally buried in the native conformation, shifts in solubility in non-ionic detergents, and the formation of macromolecular inclusions. In the present study, we investigate the relationship between detergent-insoluble and sedimentable forms of mutant SOD1, forms of mutant SOD1 with aberrantly accessible epitopes, and mutant protein in inclusions with the goal of defining the spectrum of misfolded states that mutant SOD1 can adopt.
Using combined approaches in cultured cell models, we demonstrate that a substantial fraction of mutant SOD1 adopts a non-native conformation that remains soluble and freely mobile. We also show that mutant SOD1 can produce multimeric assemblies of which some are insoluble in detergent and large enough to sediment by ultracentrifugation and some are large enough to detect visually. Three conformationally restricted antibodies were found to be useful in discriminating mal-folded forms of mutant SOD1. An antibody termed C4F6 displays properties consistent with recognition of soluble, freely mobile, mal-folded mutant SOD1. An antibody termed SEDI, which recognizes C-terminal residues, detects larger inclusion structures as well as soluble misfolded entities. An antibody termed hSOD1, which recognizes aa 24-36, detects an epitope shared by soluble non-natively folded WT and mutant SOD1. This epitope becomes inaccessible in aggregates of mutant SOD1.
Our studies demonstrate how different methods of detecting misfolding and aggregation of mutant SOD1 reveal different forms of aberrantly folded protein. Immunological and biochemical methods can be used in combination to detect soluble and insoluble misfolded forms of mutant SOD1. Our findings support the view that mutant SOD1 can adopt multiple misfolded conformations with the potential that different structural variants mediate different aspects of fALS.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) cause some forms of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Affected tissues of patients and transgenic mouse models of the disease accumulate misfolded and aggregated forms of the mutant protein. In the present study we have identified specific sequences in human SOD1 that modulate the aggregation of fALS mutant proteins. From our study of a panel of mutant proteins, we identify two sequence elements in human SOD1 (residues 42–50 and 109–123) that are critical in modulating the aggregation of the protein. These sequences are components of the 4th and 7th β-strands of the protein, and in the native structure are normally juxtaposed as elements of the core β-barrel. Our data suggest that some type of intermolecular interaction between these elements may occur in promoting mutant SOD1 aggregation.
Protein misfolding; Superoxide dismutase 1; Familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
The nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) governs the expression of antioxidant and phase II detoxifying enzymes. Nrf2 activation can prevent or reduce cellular damage associated with several types of injury in many different tissues and organs. Dominant mutations in Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal disorder characterized by the progressive loss of motor neurons and subsequent muscular atrophy. We have previously shown that Nrf2 activation in astrocytes delays neurodegeneration in ALS mouse models. To further investigate the role of Nrf2 in ALS we determined the effect of absence of Nrf2 or its restricted overexpression in neurons or type II skeletal muscle fibers on symptoms onset and survival in mutant hSOD1 expressing mice. We did not observe any detrimental effect associated with the lack of Nrf2 in two different mutant hSOD1 animal models of ALS. However, restricted Nrf2 overexpression in neurons or type II skeletal muscle fibers delayed disease onset but failed to extend survival in hSOD1G93A mice. These results highlight the concept that not only the pharmacological target but also the cell type targeted may be relevant when considering a Nrf2-mediated therapeutic approach for ALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by the progressive dysfunction and death of motor neurons by mechanisms that remain unclear. Evidence indicates that oxidative mechanisms contribute to ALS pathology, but classical antioxidants have not performed well in clinical trials. Cyclic nitroxides are an alternative worth exploring because they are multifunctional antioxidants that display low toxicity in vivo. Here, we examine the effects of the cyclic nitroxide tempol (4-hydroxy-2,2,6,6-tetramethyl piperidine-1-oxyl) on ALS onset and progression in transgenic female rats over-expressing the mutant hSOD1G93A . Starting at 7 weeks of age, a high dose of tempol (155 mg/day/rat) in the rat´s drinking water had marginal effects on the disease onset but decelerated disease progression and extended survival by 9 days. In addition, tempol protected spinal cord tissues as monitored by the number of neuronal cells, and the reducing capability and levels of carbonylated proteins and non-native hSOD1 forms in spinal cord homogenates. Intraperitoneal tempol (26 mg/rat, 3 times/week) extended survival by 17 days. This group of rats, however, diverted to a decelerated disease progression. Therefore, it was inconclusive whether the higher protective effect of the lower i.p. dose was due to higher tempol bioavailability, decelerated disease development or both. Collectively, the results show that tempol moderately extends the survival of ALS rats while protecting their cellular and molecular structures against damage. Thus, the results provide proof that cyclic nitroxides are alternatives worth to be further tested in animal models of ALS.
We previously demonstrated that dietary vitamin D3 at 10x the adequate intake (AI) attenuates the decline in functional capacity in the G93A mouse model of ALS. We hypothesized that higher doses would elicit more robust changes in functional and disease outcomes.
To determine the effects of dietary vitamin D3 at 50xAI on functional outcomes (motor performance, paw grip endurance) and disease severity (clinical score), as well as disease onset, disease progression and lifespan in the transgenic G93A mouse model of ALS.
Starting at age 25 d, 100 G93A mice (55 M, 45 F) were provided ad libitum with either an adequate (AI; 1 IU D3/g feed) or high (HiD; 50 IU D3/g feed) vitamin D3 diet.
HiD females consumed 9% less food corrected for body weight vs. AI females (P = 0.010). HiD mice had a 12% greater paw grip endurance over time between age 60–141 d (P = 0.015), and a 37% greater score during disease progression (P = 0.042) vs. AI mice. Although HiD females had a non-significant 31% greater CS prior to disease onset vs. AI females, they exhibited a significant 20% greater paw grip endurance AUC (P = 0.020) when corrected for clinical score.
Dietary D3 supplementation at 50x the adequate intake attenuated the decline in paw grip endurance, but did not influence age at disease onset, hindlimb paralysis or endpoint in the transgenic G93A mouse model of ALS. Furthermore, females may have reached the threshold for vitamin D3 toxicity as evidence by reduced food intake and greater disease severity prior to disease onset.
Genetic alterations in α-synuclein cause autosomal dominant familial Parkinsonism and may contribute to sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD). Synphilin-1 is an α-synuclein-interacting protein, with implications in PD pathogenesis related to protein aggregation. Currently, the in vivo role of synphilin-1 in α-synuclein-linked pathogenesis is not fully understood. Using the mouse prion protein promoter, we generated synphilin-1 transgenic mice, which did not display PD-like phenotypes. However, synphilin-1/A53T α-synuclein double-transgenic mice survived longer than A53T α-synuclein single-transgenic mice. There were attenuated A53T α-synuclein-induced motor abnormalities and decreased astroglial reaction and neuronal degeneration in brains in double-transgenic mice. Overexpression of synphilin-1 decreased caspase-3 activation, increased beclin-1 and LC3 II expression and promoted formation of aggresome-like structures, suggesting that synphilin-1 alters multiple cellular pathways to protect against neuronal degeneration. These studies demonstrate that synphilin-1 can diminish the severity of α-synucleinopathy and play a neuroprotective role against A53T α-synuclein toxicity in vivo.
Following fear conditioning (FC), ex vivo evidence suggests that early dynamics of cellular and molecular plasticity in amygdala and hippocampal circuits mediate responses to fear. Such altered dynamics in fear circuits are thought to be etiologically related to anxiety disorders including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Consistent with this, neuroimaging studies of individuals with established PTSD in the months after trauma have revealed changes in brain regions responsible for processing fear. However, whether early changes in fear circuits can be captured in
vivo is not known.
We hypothesized that in vivo magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) would be sensitive to rapid microstructural changes elicited by FC in an experimental mouse PTSD model. We employed a repeated measures paired design to compare in vivo DTI measurements before, one hour after, and one day after FC-exposed mice (n = 18).
Using voxel-wise repeated measures analysis, fractional anisotropy (FA) significantly increased then decreased in amygdala, decreased then increased in hippocampus, and was increasing in cingulum and adjacent gray matter one hour and one day post-FC respectively. These findings demonstrate that DTI is sensitive to early changes in brain microstructure following FC, and that FC elicits distinct, rapid in vivo responses in amygdala and hippocampus.
Our results indicate that DTI can detect rapid microstructural changes in brain regions known to mediate fear conditioning in vivo. DTI indices could be explored as a translational tool to capture potential early biological changes in individuals at risk for developing PTSD.
The role of amyloid-β (Aβ) in the neurodegeneration of Alzheimer’s disease remains controversial, to a large extent because of the lack of robust neurodegeneration in mouse models of AD. To address this question, we examined the effects of Aβ antibodies in the recently described monoaminergic (MAergic) axonal degeneration in AβPPswe/PS1dE9 mice. To determine if Aβ accumulation is directly involved in degeneration of MAergic axons, we examined the effects of passive anti-Aβ antibody (7B6) administration on Aβ pathology and MAergic degeneration in AβPPswe/PS1dE9 mice. Injections of monoclonal antibody (mAb) 7B6 into mice (6 to 9 months of age) resulted in a modest reduction of Aβ load in the brains of AβPPswe/PS1dE9 mice. In addition, 7B6 treated AβPPswe/PS1dE9 mice had significantly higher densities of MAergic axons in both cortex and in hippocampus as compared to untreated mutant mice. For example, 7B6 treated mice showed almost 2-fold greater densities of serotonergic (5-HT) axons in the cortex compared to saline treated mice. Similar findings were observed in the catecholaminergic (TH) axons. Our results demonstrate that lowering of Aβ levels via passive Aβ immunotherapy ameliorates ongoing degenerative processes, supporting a causal link between Aβ and neurodegeneration.
Amyloid-β; axon; immunotherapy; neurodegeneration; serotonergic
Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized pathologically by aggregates composed of N-terminal fragments of the mutant form of the protein huntingtin (htt). The role of these N-terminal fragments in disease pathogenesis has been questioned based in part on studies in transgenic mice. In one important example, mice that express an N-terminal fragment of mutant htt terminating at the C-terminus of exon 2 (termed the Shortstop mouse) were reported to develop robust inclusion pathology without developing phenotypic abnormalities seen in the R6/2 or N171-82Q models of HD, which are also based on expression of mutant N-terminal htt fragments. To further explore the capacity of mutant exon-2 htt fragments to produce neurologic abnormalities (N-terminal 118 amino acids; N118), we generated transgenic mice expressing cDNA that encodes htt N118-82Q with the mouse prion promoter vector. In mice generated in this manner, we demonstrate robust inclusion pathology accompanied by early death and failure to gain weight. These phenotypes are the most robust abnormalities identified in the R6/2 and N171-82Q models. We conclude that the lack of an overt phenotype in the initial Shortstop mice cannot be completely explained by the properties of mutant htt N118 fragments.
The pathology of many neurodegenerative diseases is characterized by the accumulation of misfolded and aggregated proteins in various cell types and regional substructures throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. The accumulation of these aggregated proteins signals dysfunction of cellular protein homeostatic mechanisms such as the ubiquitin/proteasome system, autophagy, and the chaperone network. Although there are several published studies in which transcriptional profiling has been used to examine gene expression in various tissues, including tissues of neurodegenerative disease models, there has not been a report that focuses exclusively on expression of the chaperone network. In the present study, we used the Allen Brain Atlas online database to analyze chaperone expression levels. This database utilizes a quantitative in situ hybridization approach and provides data on 270 chaperone genes within many substructures of the adult mouse brain. We determined that 256 of these chaperone genes are expressed at some level. Surprisingly, relatively few genes, only 30, showed significant variations in levels of mRNA across different substructures of the brain. The greatest degree of variability was exhibited by genes of the DnaJ co-chaperone, Tetratricopeptide repeat, and the HSPH families. Our analysis provides a valuable resource towards determining how variations in chaperone gene expression may modulate the vulnerability of specific neuronal populations of mammalian brain.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) are associated with familial cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Studies in transgenic mice have suggested that wild-type (WT) SOD1 can modulate the toxicity of mutant SOD1. In the present study, we demonstrate that the effects of WT SOD1 on the age at which transgenic mice expressing mutant human SOD1 (hSOD1) develop paralysis are influenced by the nature of the ALS mutation and the expression levels of WT hSOD1. We show that regardless of whether WT SOD1 changes the course of disease, both WT and mutant hSOD1 accumulate as detergent-insoluble aggregates in symptomatic mice expressing both proteins. However, using a panel of fluorescently tagged variants of SOD1 in a cell model of mutant SOD1 aggregation, we demonstrate that the interactions between mutant and WT SOD1 in aggregate formation are not simply a co-assembly of mutant and WT proteins. Overall, these data demonstrate that the product of the normal SOD1 allele in fALS has potential to influence the toxicity of mutant SOD1 and that complex interactions with the mutant protein may influence the formation of aggregates and inclusion bodies generated by mutant SOD1.
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.
Over 100 mutations in the gene encoding human copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause an inherited form of the fatal neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Two pathogenic SOD1 mutations, His46Arg (H46R) and His48Gln (H48Q), affect residues that act as copper ligands in the wild type enzyme. Transgenic mice expressing a human SOD1 variant containing both mutations develop paralytic disease akin to ALS. Here we show that H46R/H48Q SOD1 possesses multiple characteristics that distinguish it from the wild type. These properties include: 1) an ablated copper-binding site; 2) a substantially weakened affinity for zinc; 3) a binding site for calcium ion; 4) the ability to form stable heterocomplexes with the Copper Chaperone for SOD1 (CCS); and 5) compromised CCS-mediated oxidation of the intrasubunit disulfide bond in vivo. The results presented here, together with data on pathogenic SOD1 proteins coming from cell culture and transgenic mice, suggest that incomplete posttranslational modification of nascent SOD1 polypeptides via CCS may be a characteristic shared by fALS SOD1 mutants, leading to a population of destabilized, off-pathway folding intermediates that are toxic to motor neurons.
Mutations in human copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause an inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, motor neuron disease). Insoluble forms of mutant SOD1 accumulate in neural tissues of human ALS patients and in spinal cords of transgenic mice expressing these polypeptides, suggesting that SOD1-linked ALS is a protein misfolding disorder. Understanding the molecular basis for how the pathogenic mutations give rise to SOD1 folding intermediates, which may themselves be toxic, is therefore of keen interest. A critical step on the SOD1 folding pathway occurs when the copper chaperone for SOD1 (CCS) modifies the nascent SOD1 polypeptide by inserting the catalytic copper cofactor and oxidizing its intrasubunit disulfide bond. Recent studies reveal that pathogenic SOD1 proteins coming from cultured cells and from the spinal cords of transgenic mice tend to be metal-deficient and/or lacking the disulfide bond, raising the possibility that the disease-causing mutations may enhance levels of SOD1-folding intermediates by preventing or hindering CCS-mediated SOD1 maturation. This mini-review explores this hypothesis by highlighting the structural and biophysical properties of the pathogenic SOD1 mutants in the context of what is currently known about CCS structure and action. Other hypotheses as to the nature of toxicity inherent in pathogenic SOD1 proteins are not covered.
superoxide dismutase; SOD1; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neuron disease; protein misfolding; protein aggregation; protofibrils; amyloid
The amyloid precursor protein (APP) is the source of β-amyloid, a pivotal peptide in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This study examines the possible effect of APP transgene expression on neuronal size by measuring the volumes of cortical neurons (μm3) in transgenic mouse models with familial AD Swedish mutation (APPswe), with or without mutated presenilin1 (PS1dE9), as well as in mice carrying wild-type APP (APPwt). Overexpression of APPswe and APPwt protein, but not of PS1dE9 alone, resulted in a greater percentage of medium-sized neurons and a proportionate decrease in the percentage of small-sized neurons. Our observations indicate that the overexpression of mutant (APPswe) or wild-type APP in transgenic mice is necessary and sufficient for hypertrophy of cortical neurons. This is highly suggestive of a neurotrophic effect and also raises the possibility that the lack of neuronal loss in transgenic mouse models of AD may be attributed to overexpression of APP.
Neuron size; Transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease; Stereology; Amyloid precursor protein
A subset of superoxide dismutase 1 (Cu/Zn-SOD1) mutants that cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) have heightened reactivity with −ONOO and H2O2 in vitro. This reactivity requires a copper ion bound in the active site and is a suggested mechanism of motor neuron injury. However, we have found that transgenic mice that express SOD1-H46R/H48Q, which combines natural FALS mutations at ligands for copper and which is inactive, develop motor neuron disease. Using a direct radioactive copper incorporation assay in transfected cells and the established tools of single crystal x-ray diffraction, we now demonstrate that this variant does not stably bind copper. We find that single mutations at copper ligands, including H46R, H48Q, and a quadruple mutant H46R/H48Q/H63G/H120G, also diminish the binding of radioactive copper. Further, using native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and a yeast two-hybrid assay, the binding of copper was found to be related to the formation of the stable dimeric enzyme. Collectively, our data demonstrate a relationship between copper and assembly of SOD1 into stable dimers and also define disease-causing SOD1 mutants that are unlikely to robustly produce toxic radicals via copper-mediated chemistry.
To date, 146 different mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) have been identified in patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The mean age of disease onset in patients inheriting mutations in SOD1 is 45–47 years of age. However, although the length of disease duration is highly variable, there are examples of consistent disease durations associated with specific mutations (e. g. A4V, less than 2 years). In the present study, we have used a large set of data from SOD1-associated ALS pedigrees to identify correlations between disease features and biochemical/biophysical properties of more than 30 different variants of mutant SOD1. Using a reliable cell culture assay, we show that all ALS-associated mutations in SOD1 increase the inherent aggregation propensity of the protein. However, the relative propensity to do so varied considerably among mutants. We were not able to explain the variation in aggregation rates by differences in known protein properties such as enzyme activity, protein thermostability, mutation position or degree of change in protein charge. Similarly, we were not able to explain variability in the duration of disease in SOD1-associated ALS pedigrees by these properties. However, we find that the majority of pedigrees in which patients exhibit reproducibly short disease durations are associated with mutations that show a high inherent propensity to induce aggregation of SOD1.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) without (non-demented, PDND) and with dementia (PDD), and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) are subsumed under the umbrella term Lewy body disorders (LBD). The main component of the underlying pathologic substrate, i.e. Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, is misfolded alpha-synuclein (Asyn), and - in particular in demented LBD patients - co-occurring misfolded amyloid-beta (Abeta). Lowered blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of transthyretin (TTR) - a clearance protein mainly produced in the liver and, autonomously, in the choroid plexus - are associated with Abeta accumulation in Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, a recent study suggests that TTR is involved in Asyn clearance. We measured TTR protein levels in serum and cerebrospinal fluid of 131 LBD patients (77 PDND, 26 PDD, and 28 DLB) and 72 controls, and compared TTR levels with demographic and clinical data as well as neurodegenerative markers in the CSF. Five single nucleotide polymorphisms of the TTR gene which are considered to influence the ability of the protein to carry its ligands were also analyzed. CSF TTR levels were significantly higher in LBD patients compared to controls. Post-hoc analysis demonstrated that this effect was driven by PDND patients. In addition, CSF TTR levels correlated negatively with CSF Abeta1–42, total tau and phospho-tau levels. Serum TTR levels did not significantly differ among the studied groups. There were no relevant associations between TTR levels and genetic, demographic and clinical data, respectively. These results suggest an involvement of the clearance protein TTR in LBD pathophysiology, and should motivate to elucidate TTR-related mechanisms in LBD in more detail.