Molecular Bases of Disease
- Aberrant cytoplasmic accumulation of an RNA-binding protein, fused in sarcoma (FUS), characterizes the neuropathology of subtypes of ALS and frontotemporal lobar degeneration, although the effects of post-translational modifications of FUS, especially phosphorylation, on its neurotoxicity have not been fully characterized. Here, we show that casein kinase 1δ (CK1δ) phosphorylates FUS at 10 serine/threonine residues in vitro using mass spectrometric analyses. We also show that phosphorylation by CK1δ or CK1ε significantly increased the solubility of FUS in human embryonic kidney 293 cells.
- In tauopathies, tau forms pathogenic fibrils with distinct conformations (termed “tau strains”) and acts as an aggregation “seed” templating the conversion of normal tau into isomorphic fibrils. Previous research showed that the aggregation core of tau fibril covers the C-terminal region (243–406 amino acids (aa)) and differs among the diseases. However, the mechanisms by which distinct fibrous structures are formed and inherited via templated aggregation are still unknown. Here, we sought to identify the key sequences of seed-dependent aggregation.
- Tau is a microtubule-associated protein expressed in neuronal axons. Hyperphosphorylated tau is a major component of neurofibrillary tangles, a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Hyperphosphorylated tau aggregates are also found in many neurodegenerative diseases, collectively referred to as “tauopathies,” and tau mutations are associated with familial frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Previous studies have generated transgenic mice with mutant tau as tauopathy models, but nonhuman primates, which are more similar to humans, may be a better model to study tauopathies.
- Increasing evidence suggests that α-synuclein (αS) aggregates in brains of individuals with Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies can spread in a prion-like manner. Although the initial αS nuclei are pivotal in determining αS fibril polymorphs and resulting phenotypes, it is not clear how the initial fibril seeds are generated. Previous studies have shown that αS truncation might have an important role in αS aggregation. However, little is known about how this truncation influences αS's propagation properties.
- Cell-to-cell transmission of intracellular protein aggregates is considered a central event in many neurodegenerative diseases, but little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms. A new study employs fluorescence quenching to examine the fate of α-synuclein, a key molecule in the pathology of Parkinson's disease and related disorders, in primary cultured neurons, finding that endocytosis and lysosomal processing of exogenous fibrils may explain the transmission of α-synuclein pathology.
- Aggregates of abnormal proteins are widely observed in neuronal and glial cells of patients with various neurodegenerative diseases, and it has been proposed that prion-like behavior of these proteins can account for not only the onset but also the progression of these diseases. However, it is not yet clear which abnormal protein structures function most efficiently as seeds for prion-like propagation. In this study, we aimed to identify the most pathogenic species of α-synuclein (α-syn), the main component of the Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites that are observed in α-synucleinopathies.
- α-Synuclein is the major component of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites in Parkinson disease and dementia with Lewy bodies and of glial cytoplasmic inclusions in multiple system atrophy. It has been suggested that α-synuclein fibrils or intermediate protofibrils in the process of fibril formation may have a toxic effect on neuronal cells. In this study, we investigated the ability of soluble monomeric α-synuclein to promote microtubule assembly and the effects of conformational changes of α-synuclein on Tau-promoted microtubule assembly.
- TAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43) has been identified as the major component of ubiquitin-positive neuronal and glial inclusions in frontotemporal lobar degeneration and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Aggregation of TDP-43 to amyloid-like fibrils and spreading of the aggregates are suggested to account for the pathogenesis and progression of these diseases. To investigate the molecular mechanisms of TDP-43 aggregation, we attempted to identify the amino acid sequence required for the aggregation.
- Intracellular aggregates of phosphorylated TDP-43 are a major component of ubiquitin-positive inclusions in the brains of patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration and ALS and are considered a pathological hallmark. Here, to gain insight into the mechanism of intracellular TDP-43 accumulation, we examined the relationship between phosphorylation and aggregation of TDP-43. We found that expression of a hyperactive form of casein kinase 1 δ (CK1δ1-317, a C-terminally truncated form) promotes mislocalization and cytoplasmic accumulation of phosphorylated TDP-43 (ubiquitin- and p62-positive) in cultured neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells.