Compartment-dependent mitochondrial alterations in experimental ALS, the effects of mitophagy and mitochondriogenesis.
ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is characterized by massive loss of motor neurons. Data from ALS patients and experimental models indicate that mitochondria are severely damaged within dying or spared motor neurons. Nonetheless, recent data indicate that mitochondrial preservation, although preventing motor neuron loss, fails to prolong lifespan. On the other hand, the damage to motor axons plays a pivotal role in determining both lethality and disease course. Thus, in the present article each motor neuron compartment (cell body, central, and peripheral axons) of G93A SOD-1 mice was studied concerning mitochondrial alterations as well as other intracellular structures. We could confirm the occurrence of ALS-related mitochondrial damage encompassing total swelling, matrix dilution and cristae derangement along with non-pathological variations of mitochondrial size and number. However, these alterations occur to a different extent depending on motor neuron compartment. Lithium, a well-known autophagy inducer, prevents most pathological changes. However, the efficacy of lithium varies depending on which motor neuron compartment is considered. Remarkably, some effects of lithium are also evident in wild type mice. Lithium is effective also in vitro, both in cell lines and primary cell cultures from the ventral spinal cord. In these latter cells autophagy inhibition within motor neurons in vitro reproduced ALS pathology which was reversed by lithium. Muscle and glial cells were analyzed as well. Cell pathology was mostly severe within peripheral axons and muscles of ALS mice. Remarkably, when analyzing motor axons of ALS mice a subtotal clogging of axoplasm was described for the first time, which was modified under the effects of lithium. The effects induced by lithium depend on several mechanisms such as direct mitochondrial protection, induction of mitophagy and mitochondriogenesis. In this study, mitochondriogenesis induced by lithium was confirmed in situ by a novel approach using [2-(3)H]-adenosine.
Project description:Missense mutations in ubiquilin 2 (UBQLN2) cause ALS with frontotemporal dementia (ALS-FTD). Animal models of ALS are useful for understanding the mechanisms of pathogenesis and for preclinical investigations. However, previous rodent models carrying UBQLN2 mutations failed to manifest any sign of motor neuron disease. Here, we show that lines of mice expressing either the ALS-FTD-linked P497S or P506T UBQLN2 mutations have cognitive deficits, shortened lifespans, and develop motor neuron disease, mimicking the human disease. Neuropathologic analysis of the mice with end-stage disease revealed the accumulation of ubiquitinated inclusions in the brain and spinal cord, astrocytosis, a reduction in the number of hippocampal neurons, and reduced staining of TAR-DNA binding protein 43 in the nucleus, with concomitant formation of ubiquitin+ inclusions in the cytoplasm of spinal motor neurons. Moreover, both lines displayed denervation muscle atrophy and age-dependent loss of motor neurons that correlated with a reduction in the number of large-caliber axons. By contrast, two mouse lines expressing WT UBQLN2 were mostly devoid of clinical and pathological signs of disease. These UBQLN2 mouse models provide valuable tools for identifying the mechanisms underlying ALS-FTD pathogenesis and for investigating therapeutic strategies to halt disease.
Project description:Dominant mutations in the Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal disorder characterized by the progressive loss of motor neurons. The molecular mechanism underlying the toxic gain-of-function of mutant hSOD1s remains uncertain. Several lines of evidence suggest that toxicity to motor neurons requires damage to non-neuronal cells. In line with this observation, primary astrocytes isolated from mutant hSOD1 over-expressing rodents induce motor neuron death in co-culture. Mitochondrial alterations have been documented in both neuronal and glial cells from ALS patients as well as in ALS-animal models. In addition, mitochondrial dysfunction and increased oxidative stress have been linked to the toxicity of mutant hSOD1 in astrocytes and neurons. In mutant SOD1-linked ALS, mitochondrial alterations may be partially due to the increased association of mutant SOD1 with the outer membrane and intermembrane space of the mitochondria, where it can affect several critical aspects of mitochondrial function. We have previously shown that decreasing glutathione levels, which is crucial for peroxide detoxification in the mitochondria, significantly accelerates motor neuron death in hSOD1G93A mice. Here we employed a catalase targeted to the mitochondria to investigate the effect of increased mitochondrial peroxide detoxification capacity in models of mutant hSOD1-mediated motor neuron death. The over-expression of mitochondria-targeted catalase improved mitochondrial antioxidant defenses and mitochondrial function in hSOD1G93A astrocyte cultures. It also reverted the toxicity of hSOD1G93A-expressing astrocytes towards co-cultured motor neurons, however ALS-animals did not develop the disease later or survive longer. Hence, while increased oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction have been extensively documented in ALS, these results suggest that preventing peroxide-mediated mitochondrial damage alone is not sufficient to delay the disease.
Project description:Peripherin, a type III intermediate filament (IF) protein, upregulated by injury and inflammatory cytokines, is a component of IF inclusion bodies associated with degenerating motor neurons in sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We report here that sustained overexpression of wild-type peripherin in mice provokes massive and selective degeneration of motor axons during aging. Remarkably, the onset of peripherin-mediated disease was precipitated by a deficiency of neurofilament light (NF-L) protein, a phenomenon associated with sporadic ALS. In NF-L null mice, the overexpression of peripherin led to early- onset formation of IF inclusions and to the selective death of spinal motor neurons at 6 mo of age. We also report the formation of similar peripherin inclusions in presymptomatic transgenic mice expressing a mutant form of superoxide dismutase linked to ALS. Taken together, these results suggest that IF inclusions containing peripherin may play a contributory role in motor neuron disease.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects motor neurons in the brainstem, spinal cord and motor cortex. ALS is characterized by genetic and clinical heterogeneity, suggesting the existence of genetic factors that modify the phenotypic expression of the disease. We previously identified the axonal guidance EphA4 receptor, member of the Eph-ephrin system, as an ALS disease-modifying factor. EphA4 genetic inhibition rescued the motor neuron phenotype in zebrafish and a rodent model of ALS. Preventing ligands from binding to the EphA4 receptor also successfully improved disease, suggesting a role for EphA4 ligands in ALS. One particular ligand, ephrin-A5, is upregulated in reactive astrocytes after acute neuronal injury and inhibits axonal regeneration. Moreover, it plays a role during development in the correct pathfinding of motor axons towards their target limb muscles. We hypothesized that a constitutive reduction of ephrin-A5 signalling would benefit disease progression in a rodent model for ALS. We discovered that in the spinal cord of control and symptomatic ALS mice ephrin-A5 was predominantly expressed in neurons. Surprisingly, reduction of ephrin-A5 levels in SOD1G93A mice accelerated disease progression and reduced survival without affecting disease onset, motor neuron numbers or innervated neuromuscular junctions in symptomatic mice. These findings suggest ephrin-A5 as a modifier of disease progression that might play a role in the later stages of the disease. Similarly, we identified a more aggressive disease progression in patients with lower ephrin-A5 protein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid without modifying disease onset. In summary, we identified reduced expression of ephrin-A5 to accelerate disease progression in a mouse model of ALS as well as in humans. Combined with our previous findings on the role of EphA4 in ALS our current data suggests different contribution for various members of the Eph-ephrin system in the pathophysiology of a motor neuron disease.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal adult-onset neurodegenerative disease that causes degeneration of motor neurons and paralysis. Approximately 20% of familial ALS cases have been linked to mutations in the copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene, but it is unclear how mutations in the protein result in motor neuron degeneration. Transgenic (tg) mice expressing mutated forms of human SOD1 (hSOD1) develop clinical and pathological features similar to those of ALS. We used tg mice expressing hSOD1-G93A, hSOD1-G37R, and hSOD1-wild-type to investigate a new subcellular pathology involving mutant hSOD1 protein prominently localizing to the nuclear compartment and disruption of the architecture of nuclear gems. We developed methods for extracting relatively pure cell nucleus fractions from mouse CNS tissues and demonstrate a low nuclear presence of endogenous SOD1 in mouse brain and spinal cord, but prominent nuclear accumulation of hSOD1-G93A, -G37R, and -wild-type in tg mice. The hSOD1 concentrated in the nuclei of spinal cord cells, particularly motor neurons, at a young age. The survival motor neuron protein (SMN) complex is disrupted in motor neuron nuclei before disease onset in hSOD1-G93A and -G37R mice; age-matched hSOD1-wild-type mice did not show SMN disruption despite a nuclear presence. Our data suggest new mechanisms involving hSOD1 accumulation in the cell nucleus and mutant hSOD1-specific perturbations in SMN localization with disruption of the nuclear SMN complex in ALS mice and suggest an overlap of pathogenic mechanisms with spinal muscular atrophy.
Project description:ALS is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder with no effective treatment. In the present study, we found that daily doses of lithium, leading to plasma levels ranging from 0.4 to 0.8 mEq/liter, delay disease progression in human patients affected by ALS. None of the patients treated with lithium died during the 15 months of the follow-up, and disease progression was markedly attenuated when compared with age-, disease duration-, and sex-matched control patients treated with riluzole for the same amount of time. In a parallel study on a genetic ALS animal model, the G93A mouse, we found a marked neuroprotection by lithium, which delayed disease onset and duration and augmented the life span. These effects were concomitant with activation of autophagy and an increase in the number of the mitochondria in motor neurons and suppressed reactive astrogliosis. Again, lithium reduced the slow necrosis characterized by mitochondrial vacuolization and increased the number of neurons counted in lamina VII that were severely affected in saline-treated G93A mice. After lithium administration in G93A mice, the number of these neurons was higher even when compared with saline-treated WT. All these mechanisms may contribute to the effects of lithium, and these results offer a promising perspective for the treatment of human patients affected by ALS.
Project description:Mislocalization of the predominantly nuclear RNA/DNA binding protein, TDP-43, occurs in motor neurons of ~95% of ALS patients, but the contribution of axonal TDP-43 to this fatal neurodegenerative disease is unclear. Here, we find TDP-43 accumulation in the axons of intra-muscular nerves from ALS patients, and in motor neurons and neuromuscular junctions(NMJs) of a mouse model with TDP-43 mislocalization. This leads to the formation of G3BP1- and TDP-43-positive RNA-granules in motor neuron axons, and to inhibition of local protein synthesis in axons and NMJs. Specifically, the axonal and synaptic levels of nuclear-encoded mitochondria proteins are reduced. Clearance of axonal TDP-43 restored local translation of the nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins and rescued TDP-43-derived axonal and NMJ toxicity. These findings suggest that targeting TDP-43 axonal gain of function may mediata therapeutic effect in ALS.
Project description:Myelinating glia cells support axon survival and functions through mechanisms independent of myelination, and their dysfunction leads to axonal degeneration in several diseases. In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal motor neurons undergo retrograde degeneration, and slowing of axonal transport is an early event that in ALS mutant mice occurs well before motor neuron degeneration. Interestingly, in familial forms of ALS, Schwann cells have been proposed to slow disease progression. We demonstrated previously that Schwann cells transfer polyribosomes to diseased and regenerating axons, a possible rescue mechanism for disease-induced reductions in axonal proteins. Here, we investigated whether elevated levels of axonal ribosomes are also found in ALS, by analysis of a superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1)(G93A) mouse model for human familial ALS and a patient suffering from sporadic ALS. In both cases, we found that the disorder was associated with an increase in the population of axonal ribosomes in myelinated axons. Importantly, in SOD1(G93A) mice, the appearance of axonal ribosomes preceded the manifestation of behavioral symptoms, indicating that upregulation of axonal ribosomes occurs early in the pathogenesis of ALS. In line with our previous studies, electron microscopy analysis showed that Schwann cells might serve as a source of axonal ribosomes in the disease-compromised axons. The early appearance of axonal ribosomes indicates an involvement of Schwann cells early in ALS neuropathology, and may serve as an early marker for disease-affected axons, not only in ALS, but also for other central and peripheral neurodegenerative disorders.
Project description:Dominant mutations in cytoplasmic dynein (Loa or Cra) have been reported to provoke selective, age-dependent killing of motor neurons, while paradoxically slowing degeneration and death of motor neurons in one mouse model of an inherited form of ALS. Examination of Loa animals reveals no degeneration of large caliber alpha-motor neurons beyond an age-dependent loss (initiating only after 18 months) that was comparable in Loa and wild-type littermates. Absence of Loa-mediated alpha-motor neuron loss contrasted with dramatic, sustained, mutant dynein-mediated postnatal loss of lumbar proprioceptive sensory axons, accompanied by decreased excitatory glutamatergic inputs to motor neurons. In mouse models of inherited ALS caused by mutations in superoxide dismutase (SOD1), mutant dynein modestly prolonged survival in the one mouse model with the most extensive motor neuron loss (SOD(G93A)) while showing marginal (SOD(G85R)) or no (SOD(G37R)) benefit in models with higher numbers of surviving motor neurons at end stage. These findings support a noncell autonomous, excitotoxic contribution from proprioceptive sensory neurons that modestly accelerates disease onset in inherited ALS.
Project description:Despite being an early event in ALS, it remains unclear whether the denervation of neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) is simply the first manifestation of a globally degenerating motor neuron. Using in vivo imaging of single axons and their NMJs over a three-month period, we identify that single motor-units are dismantled asynchronously in SOD1G37R mice. We reveal that weeks prior to complete axonal degeneration, the dismantling of axonal branches is accompanied by contemporaneous new axonal sprouting resulting in synapse formation onto nearby NMJs. Denervation events tend to propagate from the first lost NMJ, consistent with a contribution of neuromuscular factors extrinsic to motor neurons, with distal branches being more susceptible. These results show that NMJ denervation in ALS is a complex and dynamic process of continuous denervation and new innervation rather than a manifestation of sudden global motor neuron degeneration.