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1.  Functional Contribution of the Transcription Factor ATF4 to the Pathogenesis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e66672.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress represents an early pathological event in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ATF4 is a key ER stress transcription factor that plays a role in both adaptation to stress and the activation of apoptosis. Here we investigated the contribution of ATF4 to ALS. ATF4 deficiency reduced the rate of birth of SOD1G86R transgenic mice. The fraction of ATF4−/−-SOD1G85R transgenic mice that were born are more resistant to develop ALS, leading to delayed disease onset and prolonged life span. ATF4 deficiency completely attenuated the induction of pro-apoptotic genes, including BIM and CHOP, and also led to quantitative changes in the ER protein homeostasis network. Unexpectedly, ATF4 deficiency enhanced mutant SOD1 aggregation at the end stage of the disease. Studies in the motoneuron cell line NSC34 demonstrated that knocking down ATF4 enhances mutant SOD1 aggregation possibly due to alteration in the redox status of the cell. Our results support a functional role of ATF4 in ALS, offering a novel target for disease intervention.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066672
PMCID: PMC3715499  PMID: 23874395
2.  Autophagy impairment: a crossroad between neurodegeneration and tauopathies 
BMC Biology  2012;10:78.
Most neurodegenerative diseases involve the accumulation of misfolded proteins in the nervous system. Impairment of protein degradation pathways such as autophagy is emerging as a consistent and transversal pathological phenomenon in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's disease. Genetic inactivation of autophagy in mice has demonstrated a key role of the pathway in maintaining protein homeostasis in the brain, triggering massive neuronal loss and the accumulation of abnormal protein inclusions. However, the mechanism underlying neurodegeneration due to autophagy impairment remains elusive. A paper in Molecular Neurodegeneration from Abeliovich's group now suggests a role for phosphorylation of Tau and the activation of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) in driving neurodegeneration in autophagy-deficient neurons. We discuss the implications of this study for understanding the factors driving neurofibrillary tangle formation in Alzheimer's disease and tauopathies.
See research article http://www.molecularneurodegeneration.com/content/7/1/48
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-10-78
PMCID: PMC3448508  PMID: 22999309

Results 1-2 (2)