Mutations in the valosin-containing protein (VCP) gene were first found to cause inclusion- body myopathy with early-onset Paget disease and frontotemporal dementia (IBMPFD). Mutations in the VCP gene were later reported to occur in familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). But the role of VCP in the neurodegenerative processes that occur in ALS remains unknown. The purpose of the present study was to elucidate the role of VCP in the neurodegeneration seen in sporadic and VCP mutant ALS.
Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that the frequency of distinct VCP-positive nuclei of spinal motor neurons of patients with sporadic ALS (SALS) and the ALS with VCP novel mutation (ALS-VCP, M158V) was increased, compared with that of the control cases. No VCP-positive inclusion bodies were observed in SALS patients, a ALS-VCP patient or in control subjects. Neuropathologic examination of the ALS-VCP case showed loss of motor neurons, the presence of Bunina bodies, and degeneration of the corticospinal tracts. Bunina bodies detected in this case were confirmed to show immunohistochemical and ultrastructural features similar to those previously described. Furthermore, neuronal intracytoplasmic inclusions immunopositive for TAR DNA-binding protein 43 kDa (TDP-43), phosphorylated TDP-43, ubiquitin (Ub), p62, and optineurin were identified in the spinal and medullary motoneurons, but not in the neocortex. Gene analysis of this ALS-VCP patient confirmed the de novo mutation of M158V, which was not found in control cases; and bioinformatics using several in silico analyses showed possible damage to the structure of VCP. Immunocytochemical study of cultured cells showed increased cytoplasmic translocation of TDP-43 in cells transfected with several mutant VCP including our patient’s compared with wild-type VCP.
These findings support the idea that VCP is associated with the pathomechanism of SALS and familial ALS with a VCP mutation, presumably acting through a dominant-negative mechanism.
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