Expansions of the non-coding GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) gene were recently identified as the long sought-after cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on chromosome 9p. In this study we aimed to determine whether the length of the normal - unexpanded - allele of the GGGGCC repeat in C9ORF72 plays a role in the presentation of disease or affects age at onset in C9ORF72 mutation carriers. We also studied whether the GGGGCC repeat length confers risk or affects age at onset in FTD and ALS patients without C9ORF72 repeat expansions. C9ORF72 genotyping was performed in 580 FTD, 995 ALS and 160 FTD-ALS patients and 1444 controls, leading to the identification of 211 patients with pathogenic C9ORF72 repeat expansions and an accurate quantification of the length of the normal alleles in all patients and controls. No meaningful association between the repeat length of the normal alleles of the GGGGCC repeat in C9ORF72 and disease phenotype or age at onset was observed in C9ORF72 mutation carriers or non-mutation carriers.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal Dementia; C9ORF72; Repeat-expansion disease; Association study
We aimed to investigate the role of the nuclear carrier and binding proteins, transportin-1 (TRN1) and transportin-2 (TRN2), TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15 (TAF15) and Ewing’s Sarcoma protein (EWS) in inclusion body formation in cases of Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) associated with Fused in Sarcoma protein (FTLD-FUS).
Eight cases of FTLD-FUS (5 cases of atypical FTLD-U (aFTLD-U), 2 of Neuronal Intermediate Filament Inclusion Body Disease (NIFID) and 1 of Basophilic Inclusion Body Disease (BIBD)) were immunostained for FUS, TRN1, TRN2, TAF15 and EWS. 10 cases of FTLD associated with TDP-43 inclusions served as reference cases.
The inclusion bodies in FTLD-FUS contained TRN1 and TAF15 and, to a lesser extent, EWS, but not TRN2. The patterns of immunostaining for TRN1 and TAF15 were very similar to that of FUS. None of these proteins was associated with tau or TDP-43 aggregations in FTLD.
Data suggest that FUS, TRN1 and TAF15 may participate in a functional pathway in an interdependent way, and imply that the function of TDP-43 may not necessarily be in parallel with, or complementary to, that of FUS, despite each protein sharing many similar structural elements.
Frontotemporal Lobar degeneration; Fused in Sarcoma; TDP-43; transportins; TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15; Ewing’s sarcoma protein
Great strides have been made in the last 2 years in the field of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), particularly with respect to the genetics and molecular biology of FTLD with ubiquitinated inclusions. It is now clear that most cases of familial FTLD with ubiquitinated inclusions have mutations in the progranulin gene, located on chromosome 17. It is also clear that most ubiquitinated inclusions in FTLD with ubiquitinated inclusions are composed primarily of TAR DNA-binding protein-43. Thus, FTLDs can be separated into 2 major groups (i.e. tauopathies and ubiquitinopathies), and most of the ubiquitinopathies can now be defined as TAR DNA-binding protein-43 proteinopathies. Many of the familial FTLDs are linked to chromosome 17, including both the familial tauopathies and the familial TAR DNA-binding protein-43 proteinopathies with progranulin mutations. This review highlights the neuropathologic features and the most important discoveries of the last 2 years and places these findings into the historical context of FTLD.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FTDP-17; FTLD-U; Progranulin; TAR-DNA binding protein-43; Tauopathy; Ubiquitinopathy
Autopsy evaluation of the brain of a patient with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) can be daunting to the general pathologist. At some point in their training, most pathologists learn about Pick disease, and can recognize Pick bodies, the morphologic hallmark of Pick disease. Pick disease is a type of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), the general category of pathologic process underlying most cases of FTD. The 2 major categories of pathologic FTLD are tauopathies (FTLD-tau) and ubiquitinopathies (FTLD-U). Pick disease is one of the FTLD-tau subtypes and is termed FTLD-tau (PiD).
To “demystify” FTLDs, and to demonstrate that subtypes of FTLD-tau and FTLD-U can be easily determined by following a logical, stepwise, histochemical, and immunohistochemical investigation of the FTD autopsy brain.
Previously published peer-reviewed articles.
The hope is that this article will be a useful reference for the general pathologist faced with performing a brain autopsy on a decedent with frontotemporal dementia.
Cis-trans isomerization of proteins phosphorylated by proline-directed kinases is proposed to control numerous signaling molecules, and is implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s and other diseases. However, there is no direct evidence for the existence of cis-trans protein isomers in vivo, or for their conformation-specific function or regulation. Here we develop peptide chemistries that allow the generation of cis and trans-specific antibodies, and use them to raise antibodies specific for isomers of phosphorylated tau. Cis, but not trans, p-tau appears early in the brains of humans with mild cognitive impairment, and accumulates exclusively in degenerated neurons and localizes to dystrophic neurites during Alzheimer’s progression. Unlike trans p-tau, the cis isomer cannot promote microtubule assembly, is more resistant to dephosphorylation and degradation, and is more prone to aggregation. Pin1 converts cis to trans p-tau to prevent Alzheimer’s tau pathology. Isomer-specific antibodies and vaccines may therefore have value for the early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
Mutations in the Fused in sarcoma/Translated in liposarcoma gene (FUS/TLS, FUS) have been identified among patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). FUS protein aggregation is a major pathological hallmark of FUS proteinopathy, a group of neurodegenerative diseases characterized by FUS-immunoreactive inclusion bodies. We prepared transgenic Drosophila expressing either the wild type (Wt) or ALS-mutant human FUS protein (hFUS) using the UAS-Gal4 system. When expressing Wt, R524S or P525L mutant FUS in photoreceptors, mushroom bodies (MBs) or motor neurons (MNs), transgenic flies show age-dependent progressive neural damages, including axonal loss in MB neurons, morphological changes and functional impairment in MNs. The transgenic flies expressing the hFUS gene recapitulate key features of FUS proteinopathy, representing the first stable animal model for this group of devastating diseases.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD); FUS proteinopathy; animal model; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; neurodegeneration
Clinicopathologic correlation studies are critically important for the field of Alzheimer disease (AD) research. Studies on human subjects with autopsy confirmation entail numerous potential biases that affect both their general applicability and the validity of the correlations. Many sources of data variability can weaken the apparent correlation between cognitive status and AD neuropathologic changes. Indeed, most persons in advanced old age have significant non-AD brain lesions that may alter cognition independently of AD. Worldwide research efforts have evaluated thousands of human subjects to assess the causes of cognitive impairment in the elderly, and these studies have been interpreted in different ways. We review the literature focusing on the correlation of AD neuropathologic changes (i.e. β-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles) with cognitive impairment. We discuss the various patterns of brain changes that have been observed in elderly individuals to provide a perspective for understanding AD clinicopathologic correlation and conclude that evidence from many independent research centers strongly supports the existence of a specific disease, as defined by the presence of Aβ plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Although Aβ plaques may play a key role in AD pathogenesis, the severity of cognitive impairment correlates best with the burden of neocortical neurofibrillary tangles.
Aging; Alzheimer disease; Amyloid; Dementia; Epidemiology; Neuropathology; MAPT; Neurofibrillary tangles
The current consensus criteria for the neuropathologic diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), known as the National Institute on Aging/Reagan Institute of the Alzheimer Association Consensus Recommendations for the Postmortem Diagnosis of AD or NIA-Reagan Criteria , were published in 1997 (hereafter referred to as “1997 Criteria”). Knowledge of AD and the tools used for clinical investigation of cognitive impairment and dementia have advanced substantially since then and have prompted this update on the neuropathologic assessment of AD.
We present a practical guide for the implementation of recently revised National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association guidelines for the neuropathologic assessment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Major revisions from previous consensus criteria are: (i) recognition that AD neuropathologic changes may occur in the apparent absence of cognitive impairment, (ii) an “ABC” score for AD neuropathologic change that incorporates histopathologic assessments of amyloid β deposits (A), staging of neurofibrillary tangles (B), and scoring of neuritic plaques (C), and (iii) more detailed approaches for assessing commonly co-morbid conditions such as Lewy body disease, vascular brain injury, hippocampal sclerosis, and TAR DNA binding protein (TDP)-43 immunoreactive inclusions. Recommendations also are made for the minimum sampling of brain, preferred staining methods with acceptable alternatives, reporting of results, and clinico-pathologic correlations.
Abnormal neuronal aggregates of α-internexin and the three neurofilament (NF) subunits, NF-L, NF-M, and NF-H have recently been identified as the pathological hallmarks of neuronal intermediate filament (IF) inclusion disease (NIFID), a novel neurological disease of early onset with a variable clinical phenotype including frontotemporal dementia, pyramidal and extrapyramidal signs. α-Internexin, a class IV IF protein, a major component of inclusions in NIFID, has not previously been identified as a component of the pathological protein aggregates of any other neurodegenerative disease. Therefore, to determine the specificity of this protein, α-internexin immunohistochemistry was undertaken on cases of NIFID, non-tau frontotemporal dementias, motor neuron disease, α-synucleinopathies, tauopathies, and normal aged control brains. Our results indicate that class IV IF proteins are present within the pleomorphic inclusions of all cases of NIFID. Small subsets of abnormal neuronal inclusions in Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body diseases, and motor neuron disease also contain epitopes of α-internexin. Thus, α-internexin is a major component of the neuronal inclusions in NIFID and a relatively minor component of inclusions in other neurodegenerative diseases. The discovery of α-internexin in neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions implicates novel mechanisms of pathogenesis in NIFID and other neurological diseases with pathological filamentous neuronal inclusions.
α-Internexin; Neurofilament; Intermediate filament; Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease; Frontotemporal dementia
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is clinically, pathologically and genetically heterogeneous. Three major proteins are implicated in its pathogenesis. About half of cases are characterized by depositions of the microtubule associated protein, tau (FTLD-tau). In most of the remaining cases, deposits of the transactive response (TAR) DNA-binding protein with Mw of 43 kDa, known as TDP-43 (FTLD-TDP), are seen. Lastly, about 5–10 % of cases are characterized by abnormal accumulations of a third protein, fused in sarcoma (FTLD-FUS). Depending on the protein concerned, the signature accumulations can take the form of inclusion bodies (neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions and neuronal intranuclear inclusions) or dystrophic neurites, in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and subcortex. In some instances, glial cells are also affected by inclusion body formation. In motor neurone disease (MND), TDP-43 or FUS inclusions can present within motor neurons of the brain stem and spinal cord. This present paper attempts to critically examine the role of such proteins in the pathogenesis of FTLD and MND as to whether they might exert a direct pathogenetic effect (gain of function), or simply act as relatively innocent witnesses to a more fundamental loss of function effect. We conclude that although there is strong evidence for both gain and loss of function effects in respect of each of the proteins concerned, in reality, it is likely that each is a single face of either side of the coin, and that both will play separate, though complementary, roles in driving the damage which ultimately leads to the downfall of neurons and clinical expression of disease.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Motor neurone disease; Microtubule associated protein; Tau; TDP-43; FUS; Gain of function; Loss of function
Expanded glutamine repeats of the ataxin-2 (ATXN2) protein cause spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2), a rare neurodegenerative disorder. More recent studies have suggested that expanded ATXN2 repeats are a genetic risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) via an RNA-dependent interaction with TDP-43. Given the phenotypic diversity observed in SCA2 patients, we set out to determine the polymorphic nature of the ATXN2 repeat length across a spectrum of neurodegenerative disorders. In this study, we genotyped the ATXN2 repeat in 3919 neurodegenerative disease patients and 4877 healthy controls and performed logistic regression analysis to determine the association of repeat length with the risk of disease. We confirmed the presence of a significantly higher number of expanded ATXN2 repeat carriers in ALS patients compared with healthy controls (OR = 5.57; P= 0.001; repeat length >30 units). Furthermore, we observed significant association of expanded ATXN2 repeats with the development of progressive supranuclear palsy (OR = 5.83; P= 0.004; repeat length >30 units). Although expanded repeat carriers were also identified in frontotemporal lobar degeneration, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease patients, these were not significantly more frequent than in controls. Of note, our study identified a number of healthy control individuals who harbor expanded repeat alleles (31–33 units), which suggests caution should be taken when attributing specific disease phenotypes to these repeat lengths. In conclusion, our findings confirm the role of ATXN2 as an important risk factor for ALS and support the hypothesis that expanded ATXN2 repeats may predispose to other neurodegenerative diseases, including progressive supranuclear palsy.
Fused in sarcoma (FUS)-immunoreactive neuronal and glial inclusions define a novel molecular pathology called FUS proteinopathy. FUS has been shown to be a component of inclusions of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with FUS mutation and three FTLD entities, including neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID). The pathogenic role of FUS is unknown. In addition to FUS, many neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI) of NIFID contain aggregates of α-internexin and neurofilament proteins. Herein, we have: (1) shown that FUS becomes relatively insoluble in NIFID and there are no post-translational modifications; (2) shown there are no pathogenic abnormalities in the FUS gene in NIFID; (3) performed an immunoelectron microscopy analysis of the precise localizations of FUS in NIFID, as this has not previously been described. FUS localized to euchromatin, and strongly with paraspeckles, in nuclei, consistent with its RNA/DNA-binding functions. NCI of varying morphologies were observed. Most frequent were the ‘loosely aggregated cytoplasmic inclusions’ (LACI), 81% of which had moderate or high levels of FUS-immunoreactivity. Much rarer ‘compact cytoplasmic inclusions’ (CCI) and ‘Tangled twine ball inclusions’ (TTBI) were FUS-immunoreactive at their granular peripheries, or heavily FUS-positive throughout, respectively. Thus FUS may aggregate in the cytoplasm and then admix with neuronal intermediate filament accumulations.
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FUS; neurofilament; α-internexin; immunoelectron microscopy
Mutations in optineurin have recently been linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
To determine whether optineurin-positive skeinlike inclusions are a common pathologic feature in ALS, including SOD1-linked ALS.
Clinical case series.
Academic referral center.
We analyzed spinal cord sections from 46 clinically and pathologically diagnosed ALS cases and ALS transgenic mouse models overexpressing ALS-linked SOD1 mutations G93A or L126Z.
We observed optineurin-immunoreactive skeinlike inclusions in all the sporadic ALS and familial ALS cases without SOD1 mutation, but not in cases with SOD1 mutations or in transgenic mice overexpressing the ALS-linked SOD1 mutations G93A or L126Z.
The data from this study provide evidence that optineurin is involved in the pathogenesis of sporadic ALS and non-SOD1 familial ALS, thus supporting the hypothesis that these forms of ALS share a pathway that is distinct from that of SOD1-linked ALS.
Mutations in TARDBP, encoding TAR DNA-binding protein-43 (TDP-43), are associated with TDP-43 proteinopathies, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). We compared wild-type TDP-43 and an ALS-associated mutant TDP-43 in vitro and in vivo. The A315T mutant enhances neurotoxicity and the formation of aberrant TDP-43 species, including protease-resistant fragments. The C terminus of TDP-43 shows sequence similarity to prion proteins. Synthetic peptides flanking residue 315 form amyloid fibrils in vitro and cause neuronal death in primary cultures. These data provide evidence for biochemical similarities between TDP-43 and prion proteins, raising the possibility that TDP-43 derivatives may cause spreading of the disease phenotype among neighboring neurons. Our work also suggests that decreasing the abundance of neurotoxic TDP-43 species, enhancing degradation or clearance of such TDP-43 derivatives and blocking the spread of the disease phenotype may have therapeutic potential for TDP-43 proteinopathies.
The goal of this study was to determine if the apolipoprotein ε (ApoE) gene, which is a well-established susceptibility factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology in typical amnestic dementias, may also represent a risk factor in the language-based dementia, primary progressive aphasia (PPA). Apolipoprotein E genotyping was obtained from 149 patients with a clinical diagnosis of PPA, 330 cognitively healthy individuals (NC) and 179 patients with a clinical diagnosis of probable Alzheimer’s disease (PrAD). Allele frequencies were compared among the groups. Analyses were also completed by gender and in two subsets of PPA patients, one where patients were classified by subtype (logopenic, agrammatic and semantic) and another where pathologic data were available. The allele frequencies for the PPA group (ε2:5%, ε3:79.5%, and ε4:15.4%) showed a distribution similar to the NC group but significantly different from the PrAD group. The presence of an ε4 allele did not influence the age of symptom onset or aid in the prediction of AD pathology in PPA. These data show that the ε4 polymorphism, which is a well-known risk factor for AD pathology in typical amnestic dementias, has no similar relationship to the clinical syndrome of PPA or its association with AD pathology.
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID), a rare form of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), is characterized neuropathologically by focal atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes, neuronal loss, gliosis, and neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI) containing epitopes of ubiquitin and neuronal intermediate filament proteins. Recently, the ‘fused in sarcoma’ (FUS) protein (encoded by the FUS gene) has been shown to be a component of the inclusions of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with FUS mutation, NIFID, basophilic inclusion body disease, and atypical FTLD with ubiquitin-immunoreactive inclusions (aFTLD-U). To further characterize FUS proteinopathy in NIFID, and to determine whether the pathology revealed by FUS immunohistochemistry (IHC) is more extensive than α-internexin, we have undertaken a quantitative assessment of ten clinically and neuropathologically well-characterized cases using FUS IHC. The densities of NCI were greatest in the dentate gyrus (DG) and in sectors CA1/2 of the hippocampus. Anti-FUS antibodies also labeled glial inclusions (GI), neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NII), and dystrophic neurites (DN). Vacuolation was extensive across upper and lower cortical layers. Significantly greater densities of abnormally enlarged neurons and glial cell nuclei were present in the lower compared with the upper cortical laminae. FUS IHC revealed significantly greater numbers of NCI in all brain regions especially the DG. Our data suggest: (1) significant densities of FUS-immunoreactive NCI in NIFID especially in the DG and CA1/2; (2) infrequent FUS-immunoreactive GI, NII, and DN; (3) widely distributed vacuolation across the cortex, and (4) significantly more NCI revealed by FUS than α-internexin IHC.
Neurofilament intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID); ‘Fused in sarcoma’ (FUS); Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI); Density; Neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NII)
It has been only 5 years since the identification of TDP-43 as the major protein component of the ubiquitinated inclusions in FTLD-U. At that time, there were approximately a dozen papers about TDP-43; today, a “TDP-43” search reveals almost 600 papers. It is now clear that the majority of FTLD cases containing tau- and alpha-synuclein-negative, ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U) are FTLD-TDP. The spectrum of TDP-43 proteinopathies includes FTLD-TDP with or without ALS, with or without mutations in GRN, VCP, or TARDBP, with or without chromosome 9p linkage, and sporadic and non-SOD1 familial ALS with or without FTLD-TDP. There are four sub-types of FTLD-TDP, and these correlate with specific clinical and genetic profiles. Sub-types are determined by the presence, predominance, and distribution of the various TDP-43 immunopositive insoluble aggregates—neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, neuronal intranuclear inclusions, and dystrophic neurites. In this paper, FTLD-TDP pathologic sub-types will be described, and examples of each sub-type will be shown, and implications for future research will be discussed.
FTLD-TDP; TAR-DNA binding protein-43; TDP-43; Progranulin; GRN; TARDBP, FTLD-U; FTLD-U; Frontotemporal dementia; FTD; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALS
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID), a rare form of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), is characterized neuropathologically by focal atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes, neuronal loss, gliosis, and neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI) containing epitopes of ubiquitin and neuronal intermediate filament (IF) proteins. Recently, the ‘fused in sarcoma’ (FUS) protein (encoded by the FUS gene) has been shown to be a component of the inclusions of NIFID. To further characterize FUS proteinopathy in NIFID, we studied the spatial patterns of the FUS-immunoreactive NCI in frontal and temporal cortex of 10 cases. In the cerebral cortex, sectors CA1/2 of the hippocampus, and the dentate gyrus (DG), the FUS-immunoreactive NCI were frequently clustered and the clusters were regularly distributed parallel to the tissue boundary. In a proportion of cortical gyri, cluster size of the NCI approximated to those of the columns of cells was associated with the cortico-cortical projections. There were no significant differences in the frequency of different types of spatial patterns with disease duration or disease stage. Clusters of NCI in the upper and lower cortex were significantly larger using FUS compared with phosphorylated, neurofilament heavy polypeptide (NEFH) or α-internexin (INA) immunohistochemistry (IHC). We concluded: (1) FUS-immunoreactive NCI exhibit similar spatial patterns to analogous inclusions in the tauopathies and synucleinopathies, (2) clusters of FUS-immunoreactive NCI are larger than those revealed by NEFH or IMA, and (3) the spatial patterns of the FUS-immunoreactive NCI suggest the degeneration of the cortico-cortical projections in NIFID.
Neurofilament intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID); ‘Fused in sarcoma’ (FUS); Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI); Spatial pattern; Cortico-cortical projections
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID) is a frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) characterized by frontotemporal dementia (FTD), pyramidal and extrapyramidal signs. The disease is histologically characterized by the presence of abnormal neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCIs) which contain α-internexin and other neuronal intermediate filament (IF) proteins. Gigaxonin (GAN) is a cytoskeletal regulating protein and the genetic cause of giant axonal neuropathy. Since the immunoreactive profile of NCIs in NIFID is similar to that observed in brain sections from GanΔex1/Δex1 mice, we speculated that GAN could be a candidate gene causing NIFID. Therefore, we performed a mutation analysis of GAN in NIFID patients. Although the NCIs of NIFID and GanΔex1/Δex1 mice were immunohistochemically similar, no GAN variant was identified in DNA obtained from well-characterized cases of NIFID.
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease; α-Internexin; Gigaxonin; Mutation analysis
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by presence of extracellular fibrillar Aβ in amyloid plaques, intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles consisting of aggregated hyperphosphorylated tau and elevated brain levels of soluble Aβ oligomers (ADDLs). A major question is how these disparate facets of AD pathology are mechanistically related. Here we show that, independent of the presence of fibrils, ADDLs stimulate tau phosphorylation in mature cultures of hippocampal neurons and in neuroblastoma cells at epitopes characteristically hyperphosphorylated in AD. A monoclonal antibody that targets ADDLs blocked their attachment to synaptic binding sites and prevented tau hyperphosphorylation. Tau phosphorylation was blocked by the Src family tyrosine kinase inhibitor, 4-amino-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-7(t-butyl)pyrazol(3,4-D)pyramide (PP1), and by the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase inhibitor LY294002. Significantly, tau hyperphosphorylation was also induced by a soluble aqueous extract containing Aβ oligomers from AD brains, but not by an extract from non-AD brains. Aβ oligomers have been increasingly implicated as the main neurotoxins in AD, and the current results provide a unifying mechanism in which oligomer activity is directly linked to tau hyperphosphorylation in AD pathology.
Alzheimer’s disease; Aβ oligomers; tau hyperphosphorylation; hippocampal neurons; Src; PI3K
Tau dysfunction has been associated with a host of neurodegenerative diseases called tauopathies. These diseases share, as a common pathological hallmark, the presence of intracellular aggregates of hyperphosphorylated tau in affected brain areas. Aside from tau hyperphosphorylation, little is known about the role of other posttranslational modifications in tauopathies. Recently, we obtained data suggesting that calpain-mediated tau cleavage leading to the generation of a neurotoxic tau fragment might play an important role in Alzheimer’s disease. In the current study, we assessed the presence of this tau fragment in several tauopathies. Our results show high levels of the 17-kDa tau fragment and enhanced calpain activity in the temporal cortex of AD patients and in brain samples obtained from patients with other tauopathies. In addition, our data suggest that this fragment could partially inhibit tau aggregation. Conversely, tau aggregation might prevent calpain-mediated cleavage, establishing a feedback circuit that might lead to the accumulation of this toxic tau fragment. Collectively, these data suggest that the mechanism underlying the generation of the 17-kDa neurotoxic tau fragment might be part of a conserved pathologic process shared by multiple tauopathies.
Pathogenic mutations in the gene encoding TDP-43, TARDBP, have been reported in familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) and, more recently, in families with a heterogeneous clinical phenotype including both ALS and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). In our previous study, sequencing analyses identified one variant in the 3′-untranslated region (3′-UTR) of the TARDBP gene in two affected members of one family with bvFTD and ALS and in one unrelated clinically assessed case of FALS. Since that study, brain tissue has become available and provides autopsy confirmation of FTLD-TDP in the proband and ALS in the brother of the bvFTD-ALS family and the neuropathology of those two cases is reported here. The 3′-UTR variant was not found in 982 control subjects (1,964 alleles). To determine the functional significance of this variant, we undertook quantitative gene expression analysis. Allele-specific amplification showed a significant increase of 22% (P < 0.05) in disease-specific allele expression with a twofold increase in total TARDBP mRNA. The segregation of this variant in a family with clinical bvFTD and ALS adds to the spectrum of clinical phenotypes previously associated with TARDBP variants. In summary, TARDBP variants may result in clinically and neuropathologically heterogeneous phenotypes linked by a common molecular pathology called TDP-43 proteinopathy.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Frontotemporal dementia; Motor neuron disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; TDP-43; TARDBP; 3′-Untranslated region