ABSTRACT: Accumulation of aberrant proteins in inclusion bodies is a hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases. Impairment of proteolytic systems is a common event in these protein misfolding diseases. Recently, mutations in the UBQLN 2 gene encoding ubiquilin 2 have been identified in X-linked amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Furthermore, ubiquilin 2 is associated with inclusions in familial and sporadic ALS/dementia, synucleinopathies and polyglutamine diseases. Ubiquilin 2 exerts a regulatory role in proteostasis and thus it has been suggested that ubiquilin 2 pathology may be a common event in neurodegenerative diseases. Tauopathies, a heterogenous group of neurodegenerative diseases accompanied with dementia, are characterized by inclusions of the microtubule-binding protein tau. In the present study, we investigate whether ubiquilin 2 is connected with tau pathology in Alzheimer's disease (AD), supranuclear palsy (PSP) and Pick's disease (PiD) and familial cases with frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17). We show that ubiquilin 2 positive inclusions are absent in these tauopathies. Furthermore, we find decreased ubiquilin 2 protein levels in AD patients, but our results do not indicate a correlation with tau pathology. Our data show no evidence for involvement of ubiquilin 2 and indicate that other mechanisms underly the proteostatic disturbances in tauopathies.
Project description:Recently mutations in ubiquilin-2 were identified in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and ALS/dementia providing direct evidence for the importance of this protein in neurodegenerative diseases. Histological studies have suggested that ubiquilin-1/-2 are associated with various pathological inclusions including Lewy bodies in Parkinson's disease, neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease, polyQ inclusions in expansion repeat diseases and various proteinopathies associated with ALS and frontotemporal dementia. Using specific ubiquilin-2 antibodies and a series of transgenic mouse models of proteinopathies associated with neurodegenerative disease, we show that ubiquilin-2 preferentially associates with huntingtin polyQ expansion aggregates compared to ?-synuclein, tau and several other types of protein inclusions. These results were confirmed by similar findings for ubiquilin-1 and -2 in human brain tissue sections, where accumulation was observed in huntingtin inclusions, but only infrequently in other types of protein inclusions. In cultured cells, ubiquilin-2 associates with huntingtin/polyQ aggregates, but this is not compromised by disease-causing mutations. Although ubiquilin proteins can function as chaperones to shuttle proteins for degradation, there is persistent co-localization between ubiquilin-2 and polyQ aggregated proteins during disease progression in the N586-82Q-C63 Huntington's disease mouse model. Thus, the co-localization of ubiquilin-2 with the huntingtin aggregates does not appear to facilitate aggregate removal.
Project description:C9ORF72-hexanucleotide repeat expansions and ubiquilin-2 (UBQLN2) mutations are recently identified genetic markers in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). We investigate the relationship between C9ORF72 expansions and the clinical phenotype and neuropathology of ALS and FTLD. Genetic analysis and immunohistochemistry (IHC) were performed on autopsy-confirmed ALS (N = 75), FTLD-TDP (N = 30), AD (N = 14), and controls (N = 11). IHC for neurodegenerative disease pathology consisted of C9ORF72, UBQLN, p62, and TDP-43. A C9ORF72 expansion was identified in 19.4 % of ALS and 31 % of FTLD-TDP cases. ALS cases with C9ORF72 expansions frequently showed a bulbar onset of disease (57 %) and more rapid disease progression to death compared to non-expansion cases. Staining with C9ORF72 antibodies did not yield specific pathology. UBQLN pathology showed a highly distinct pattern in ALS and FTLD-TDP cases with the C9ORF72 expansion, with UBQLN-positive cytoplasmic inclusions in the cerebellar granular layer and extensive UBQLN-positive aggregates and dystrophic neurites in the hippocampal molecular layer and CA regions. These UBQLN pathologies were sufficiently unique to allow correct prediction of cases that were later confirmed to have C9ORF72 expansions by genetic analysis. UBQLN pathology partially co-localized with p62, and to a minor extent with TDP-43 positive dystrophic neurites and spinal cord skein-like inclusions. Our data indicate a pathophysiological link between C9ORF72 expansions and UBQLN proteins in ALS and FTLD-TDP that is associated with a highly characteristic pattern of UBQLN pathology. Our study indicates that this pathology is associated with alterations in clinical phenotype, and suggests that the presence of C9ORF72 repeat expansions may indicate a worse prognosis in ALS.
Project description:Tauopathies including Alzheimer's disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy are a diverse group of progressive neurodegenerative disorders pathologically defined by inclusions containing aberrantly aggregated, post-translationally modified tau. The tau pathology burden correlates with neurodegeneration and dementia observed in these diseases. The microtubule binding domain of tau is essential for its physiological functions in promoting neuronal cytoskeletal stability, however it is also required for tau to assemble into an amyloid structure that comprises pathological inclusions. A series of novel monoclonal antibodies were generated which recognize the second and fourth microtubule-binding repeat domain of tau, thus enabling the identification specifically of 4-repeat tau versus 3-/4-repeat tau, respectively. These antibodies are highly specific for tau and recognize pathological tau inclusions in human tauopathies including Alzheimer's disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and in transgenic mouse models of tauopathies. These new antibodies will be useful for identifying and characterizing different tauopathies and as tools to target tau pathology in these diseases.
Project description:UBQLN2 mutations have recently been associated with familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and ALS-dementia. UBQLN2 encodes for ubiquilin-2, a member of the ubiquitin-like protein family which facilitates delivery of ubiquitinated proteins to the proteasome for degradation. To study the potential role of ubiquilin-2 in ALS, we used recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV) vectors to express UBQLN2 and three of the identified ALS-linked mutants (P497H, P497S, and P506T) in primary neuroglial cultures and in developing neonatal mouse brains.In primary cultures rAAV2/8-mediated expression of UBQLN2 mutants resulted in inclusion bodies and insoluble aggregates. Intracerebroventricular injection of FVB mice at post-natal day 0 with rAAV2/8 expressing wild type or mutant UBQLN2 resulted in widespread, sustained expression of ubiquilin-2 in brain. In contrast to wild type, mutant UBQLN2 expression induced significant pathology with large neuronal, cytoplasmic inclusions and ubiquilin-2-positive aggregates in surrounding neuropil. Ubiquilin-2 inclusions co-localized with ubiquitin, p62/SQSTM, optineurin, and occasionally TDP-43, but were negative for ?-synuclein, neurofilament, tau, and FUS. Mutant UBLQN2 expression also resulted in Thioflavin-S-positive inclusions/aggregates. Mice expressing mutant forms of UBQLN2 variably developed a motor phenotype at 3-4 months, including nonspecific clasping and rotarod deficits.These findings demonstrate that UBQLN2 mutants (P497H, P497S, and P506T) induce proteinopathy and cause behavioral deficits, supporting a "toxic" gain-of-function, which may contribute to ALS pathology. These data establish also that our rAAV model can be used to rapidly assess the pathological consequences of various UBQLN2 mutations and provides an agile system to further interrogate the molecular mechanisms of ubiquilins in neurodegeneration.
Project description:Tauopathies are a class of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by neuronal and/or glial inclusions composed of the microtubule-binding protein, tau. Several lines of evidence suggest tau aggregation is central to the neurodegenerative process in tauopathies. First, recent animal and cell model studies find abnormally-modified tau alone may be transmitted between adjacent neurons and spread to anatomically connected brain regions to recapitulate human disease. Further, staging efforts in human autopsy cases suggest a sequential distribution of tau aggregation in the central nervous system that could reflect this observed cell-to-cell transmission of pathogenic tau species in animal models. Finally, pathogenic mutations in the MAPT gene encoding tau protein cause hereditary forms of tauopathy. Clinically, tauopathies can present with a range of phenotypes that include both movement- and cognitive/behavioral-disorders (i.e. frontotemporal dementia spectrum disorders) or non-specific amnestic symptoms in advanced age. A major limitation is that current clinical diagnostic criteria for these disorders do not reliably differentiate underlying tauopathy from other neurodegenerative diseases, such as TDP-43 proteinopathies. Thus, current research efforts are focused on improving the ante mortem diagnosis of tauopathies, including pre-clinical stages of disease, as many therapeutic strategies for emerging disease-modifying therapies focus on preventing abnormal folding and spread of tau pathology.
Project description:Hyperphosphorylated tau makes up the filamentous intracellular inclusions of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. In the disease process, neuronal tau inclusions first appear in the transentorhinal cortex from where they seem to spread to the hippocampal formation and neocortex. Cognitive impairment becomes manifest when inclusions reach the hippocampus, with abundant neocortical tau inclusions and extracellular beta-amyloid deposits being the defining pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. An abundance of tau inclusions, in the absence of beta-amyloid deposits, defines Pick's disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and other diseases. Tau mutations cause familial forms of frontotemporal dementia, establishing that tau protein dysfunction is sufficient to cause neurodegeneration and dementia. Thus, transgenic mice expressing mutant (for example, P301S) human tau in nerve cells show the essential features of tauopathies, including neurodegeneration and abundant filaments made of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. By contrast, mouse lines expressing single isoforms of wild-type human tau do not produce tau filaments or show neurodegeneration. Here we have used tau-expressing lines to investigate whether experimental tauopathy can be transmitted. We show that injection of brain extract from mutant P301S tau-expressing mice into the brain of transgenic wild-type tau-expressing animals induces assembly of wild-type human tau into filaments and spreading of pathology from the site of injection to neighbouring brain regions.
Project description:A group of neurodegenerative diseases referred to as tauopathies are characterized by the presence of brain cells harboring inclusions of pathological species of the tau protein. These disorders include Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration due to tau pathology, including progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, and Pick's disease. Tau is normally a microtubule (MT)-associated protein that appears to play an important role in ensuring proper axonal transport, but in tauopathies tau becomes hyperphosphorylated and disengages from MTs, with consequent misfolding and deposition into inclusions that mainly affect neurons but also glia. A body of experimental evidence suggests that the development of tau inclusions leads to the neurodegeneration observed in tauopathies, and there is a growing interest in developing tau-directed therapeutic agents. The following review provides a summary of strategies under investigation for the potential treatment of tauopathies, highlighting both the promises and challenges associated with these various therapeutic approaches.
Project description:TDP-43 (43-kDa TAR DNA-binding domain protein) is a major constituent of ubiquitin-positive cytoplasmic aggregates present in neurons of patients with fronto-temporal lobular dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The pathologic significance of TDP-43 aggregation is not known; however, dominant mutations in TDP-43 cause a subset of ALS cases, suggesting that misfolding and/or altered trafficking of TDP-43 is relevant to the disease process. Here, we show that the presenilin-binding protein ubiquilin 1 (UBQLN) plays a role in TDP-43 aggregation. TDP-43 interacted with UBQLN both in yeast and in vitro, and the carboxyl-terminal ubiquitin-associated domain of UBQLN was both necessary and sufficient for binding to polyubiquitylated forms of TDP-43. Overexpression of UBQLN recruited TDP-43 to detergent-resistant cytoplasmic aggregates that colocalized with the autophagosomal marker, LC3. UBQLN-dependent aggregation required the UBQLN UBA domain, was mediated by non-overlapping regions of TDP-43, and was abrogated by a mutation in UBQLN previously linked to Alzheimer disease. Four ALS-associated alleles of TDP-43 also coaggregated with UBQLN, and the extent of aggregation correlated with in vitro UBQLN binding affinity. Our findings suggest that UBQLN is a polyubiquitin-TDP-43 cochaperone that mediates the autophagosomal delivery and/or proteasome targeting of TDP-43 aggregates.
Project description:Tauopathies are neurodegenerative disorders characterized by aggregation of microtubule associated tau protein in neurons and glia. They are clinically and pathologically heterogeneous depending on the isoform of tau protein that accumulates (three or four 31-to-32-amino-acid repeats [3R or 4R] in the microtubule binding domain), as well as the cellular and neuroanatomical distribution of tau pathology. Growing evidence suggests that distinct tau conformers may contribute to the characteristic features of various tauopathies. Globular glial tauopathy (GGT) is a rare 4R tauopathy with globular cytoplasmic inclusions within neurons and glial cells. Given the unique cellular distribution and morphology of tau pathology in GGT, we sought to determine if tau species in GGT had distinctive biological properties. To address this question, we performed seeding analyses with postmortem brain tissues using a commercial tau biosensor cell line. We found that brain lysates from GGT cases had significantly higher seeding competency than other tauopathies, including corticobasal degeneration (CBD), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and Alzheimer's disease (AD). The robust seeding activity of GGT brain lysates was independent of phosphorylated tau burden and diminished upon removal of tau from samples, suggesting that seeding properties were indeed mediated by tau in the lysates. In addition, cellular inclusions in the tau biosensor cell line induced by GGT had a distinct, globular morphology that was markedly different from inclusions induced by other tauopathies, further highlighting the unique nature of tau species in GGT. Characterization of different tau species in GGT showed that detergent-insoluble, fibril-like tau contained the highest seeding activity, as reflected in its ability to increase tau aggregation in primary glial cultures. Taken together, our data suggest that unique seeding properties differentiate GGT-tau from other tauopathies, which provides new insight into pathogenic heterogeneity of primary neurodegenerative tauopathies.
Project description:Filamentous inclusions made of hyperphosphorylated tau are characteristic of numerous human neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, tangle-only dementia, Pick disease, argyrophilic grain disease (AGD), progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration. In Alzheimer's disease and AGD, it has been shown that filamentous tau appears to spread in a stereotypic manner as the disease progresses. We previously demonstrated that the injection of brain extracts from human mutant P301S tau-expressing transgenic mice into the brains of mice transgenic for wild-type human tau (line ALZ17) resulted in the assembly of wild-type human tau into filaments and the spreading of tau inclusions from the injection sites to anatomically connected brain regions. Here we injected brain extracts from humans who had died with various tauopathies into the hippocampus and cerebral cortex of ALZ17 mice. Argyrophilic tau inclusions formed in all cases and following the injection of the corresponding brain extracts, we recapitulated the hallmark lesions of AGD, PSP and CBD. Similar inclusions also formed after intracerebral injection of brain homogenates from human tauopathies into nontransgenic mice. Moreover, the induced formation of tau aggregates could be propagated between mouse brains. These findings suggest that once tau aggregates have formed in discrete brain areas, they become self-propagating and spread in a prion-like manner.