No Evidence for Pathogenic Role of UBQLN2 Mutations in Sporadic Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in the Mainland Chinese Population.
ABSTRACT: Mutations in the UBQLN2 gene, which encodes a member of the ubiquitin-like protein family (ubiquilin-2), have been identified in patients with dominant X-linked amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and ALS with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). We analyzed mutations in the UBQLN2 gene in a Chinese cohort of 515 patients with sporadic ALS (sALS). A novel missense mutation (p.M392V) was detected in one sALS patient. The p.M392V mutation substitutes a highly conserved residue, has not been reported in the population databases, and previously, at the same residue, a missense mutation p.M392I was detected in two Turkey ALS patients and was considered to be pathogenic, so the M392V is a variant of uncertain significance (VOUS) for ALS. We also found a deletion mutation (p.P500_G502del), which seems to be benign. In conclusion, our data suggest that mutations in the UBQLN2 gene are rare in Chinese sALS patients.
Project description:Members of the conserved ubiquilin (UBQLN) family of ubiquitin (Ub) chaperones harbor an antipodal UBL (Ub-like)-UBA (Ub-associated) domain arrangement and participate in proteasome and autophagosome-mediated protein degradation. Mutations in a proline-rich-repeat region (PRR) of UBQLN2 cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)/frontotemporal dementia (FTD); however, neither the normal functions of the PRR nor impacts of ALS-associated mutations within it are well understood. In this study, we show that ALS mutations perturb UBQLN2 solubility and folding in a mutation-specific manner. Biochemical impacts of ALS mutations were additive, transferable to UBQLN1, and resulted in enhanced Ub association. A Drosophila melanogaster model for UBQLN2-associated ALS revealed that both wild-type and ALS-mutant UBQLN2 alleles disrupted Ub homeostasis; however, UBQLN2ALS mutants exhibited age-dependent aggregation and caused toxicity phenotypes beyond those seen for wild-type UBQLN2. Although UBQLN2 toxicity was not correlated with aggregation in the compound eye, aggregation-prone UBQLN2 mutants elicited climbing defects and neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) abnormalities when expressed in neurons. An UBA domain mutation that abolished Ub binding also diminished UBQLN2 toxicity, implicating Ub binding in the underlying pathomechanism. We propose that ALS-associated mutations in UBQLN2 disrupt folding and that both aggregated species and soluble oligomers instigate neuron autonomous toxicity through interference with Ub homeostasis.
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:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a paralytic and usually fatal disorder caused by motor-neuron degeneration in the brain and spinal cord. Most cases of ALS are sporadic but about 5-10% are familial. Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), TAR DNA-binding protein (TARDBP, also known as TDP43) and fused in sarcoma (FUS, also known as translocated in liposarcoma (TLS)) account for approximately 30% of classic familial ALS. Mutations in several other genes have also been reported as rare causes of ALS or ALS-like syndromes. The causes of the remaining cases of familial ALS and of the vast majority of sporadic ALS are unknown. Despite extensive studies of previously identified ALS-causing genes, the pathogenic mechanism underlying motor-neuron degeneration in ALS remains largely obscure. Dementia, usually of the frontotemporal lobar type, may occur in some ALS cases. It is unclear whether ALS and dementia share common aetiology and pathogenesis in ALS/dementia. Here we show that mutations in UBQLN2, which encodes the ubiquitin-like protein ubiquilin?2, cause dominantly inherited, chromosome-X-linked ALS and ALS/dementia. We describe novel ubiquilin?2 pathology in the spinal cords of ALS cases and in the brains of ALS/dementia cases with or without UBQLN2 mutations. Ubiquilin?2 is a member of the ubiquilin family, which regulates the degradation of ubiquitinated proteins. Functional analysis showed that mutations in UBQLN2 lead to an impairment of protein degradation. Therefore, our findings link abnormalities in ubiquilin?2 to defects in the protein degradation pathway, abnormal protein aggregation and neurodegeneration, indicating a common pathogenic mechanism that can be exploited for therapeutic intervention.
Project description:Mutations of Ubiquilin 2 (UBQLN2) or TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) are associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal degeneration (ALS/FTD). However, the mechanisms whereby UBQLN2 or TBK1 mutations lead to ALS and FTD remain unclear. Here, we explored the effect of UBQLN2 on TBK1 in HEK-293T cells or in CRISPR-Cas9-mediated IRF3 and IRF7 knockout (KO) cells. We found an interaction between TBK1 and UBQLN2, which was affected by ALS/FTD-linked mutations in TBK1 or UBQLN2. Co-expression of UBQLN2 with TBK1 elevated the protein level of TBK1 as well as the phosphorylation of TBK1 and IRF3 in a UBQLN2 dose-dependent manner, and this phosphorylation was reduced by mutant UBQLN2. In addition, the cellular production of IFN1 and related pro-inflammatory cytokines was substantially elevated when UBQLN2 and TBK1 were co-expressed, which was also decreased by mutant UBQLN2. Functional assay revealed that mutant UBQLN2 significantly reduced the binding affinity of TBK1 for its partners, including IRF3, (SQSTM1)/p62 and optineurin (OPTN). Moreover, complete loss of IRF3 abolished the induction of IFN1 and related pro-inflammatory cytokines enhanced by UBQLN2 in HEK-293T cells, whereas no significant change in IRF7 knockout cells was observed. Thus, our findings suggest that UBQLN2 promotes IRF3 phosphorylation via TBK1, leading to enhanced IFN1 induction, and also imply that the dysregulated TBK1-IRF3 pathway may play a role in UBQLN2-related neurodegeneration.
Project description:Mutations in ubiquilin 2 (Ubqln2) is linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. A foremost question regarding Ubqln2 pathogenesis is whether pathogenically mutated Ubqln2 causes neuron death via a gain or loss of functions. To better understand Ubqln2 pathobiology, we created Ubqln2 transgenic and knockout rats and compared phenotypic expression in these novel rat models. Overexpression of Ubqln2 with a pathogenic mutation (P497H substitution) caused cognitive deficits and neuronal loss in transgenic rats at the age of 130 days. In the transgenic rats, neuronal loss was preceded by the progressive formation of Ubqln2 aggregates and was accompanied by the progressive accumulation of the autophagy substrates p62 and LC3-II and the impairment of endosome pathways. In contrast, none of these pathologies observed in mutant Ubqln2 transgenic rats was detected in Ubqln2 knockout rats at the age of 300 days. Together, our findings in Ubqln2 transgenic and knockout rats collectively suggest that pathogenic Ubqln2 causes neuron death mainly through a gain of unrevealed functions rather than a loss of physiological functions.
Project description:Mutations in the gene encoding ubiquilin-2 (UBQLN2) are linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). UBQLN2 plays a central role in ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) and UBQLN2 up-regulation exacerbates TDP-43 cytoplasmic aggregates. To analyze interaction between UBQLN2 and TDP-43 and to produce a relevant ALS animal model, we have generated a new transgenic mouse expressing UBQLN2<sup>P497H</sup> under the neurofilament heavy (NFH) gene promoter. The UBQLN2<sup>P497H</sup> mice were then bred with our previously described TDP-43<sup>G348C</sup> mice to generate double-transgenic UBQLN2<sup>P497H</sup>; TDP-43<sup>G348C</sup> mice. With low-expression levels of UBQLN2, the double-transgenic mice developed TDP-43 cytosolic accumulations in motor neurons starting at 5 months of age. These double-transgenic mice exhibited motor neuron loss, muscle atrophy, as well as motor and cognitive deficits during aging. The microglia from double-transgenic mice were hyperresponsive to intraperitoneal injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). In vivo and in vitro analyses suggested that extra UBQLN2 proteins can exacerbate cytoplasmic TDP-43 accumulations by competing with the UPS for binding to ubiquitin. Thus, increasing the pool of ubiquitin promoted the UPS function with ensuing reduction of TDP-43 cytosolic accumulations. In conclusion, the double-transgenic UBQLN2<sup>P497H</sup>; TDP-43<sup>G348C</sup> mice provides a unique mouse model of ALS/FTD with enhanced TDP-43 pathology that can be exploited for drug testing.
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:The frequency of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) mutations has been extensively investigated in several populations; however, a systematic analysis in Turkish cases has not been reported so far. In this study, we screened 477 ALS patients for mutations, including 116 familial ALS patients from 82 families and 361 sporadic ALS (sALS) cases. Patients were genotyped for C9orf72 (18.3%), SOD1 (12.2%), FUS (5%), TARDBP (3.7%), and UBQLN2 (2.4%) gene mutations, which together account for approximately 40% of familial ALS in Turkey. No SOD1 mutations were detected in sALS patients; however, C9orf72 (3.1%) and UBQLN2 (0.6%) explained 3.7% of sALS in the population. Exome sequencing revealed mutations in OPTN, SPG11, DJ1, PLEKHG5, SYNE1, TRPM7, and SQSTM1 genes, many of them novel. The spectrum of mutations reflect both the distinct genetic background and the heterogeneous nature of the Turkish ALS population.
Project description:Mutations in <i>UBQLN2</i> cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and other neurodegenerations. However, the mechanism by which the UBQLN2 mutations cause disease remains unclear. Alterations in proteins involved in autophagy are prominent in neuronal tissue of human ALS <i>UBQLN2</i> patients and in a transgenic P497S UBQLN2 mouse model of ALS/FTD, suggesting a pathogenic link. Here, we show UBQLN2 functions in autophagy and that ALS/FTD mutant proteins compromise this function. Inactivation of UBQLN2 expression in HeLa cells reduced autophagic flux and autophagosome acidification. The defect in acidification was rescued by reexpression of wild type (WT) UBQLN2 but not by any of the five different UBQLN2 ALS/FTD mutants tested. Proteomic analysis and immunoblot studies revealed P497S mutant mice and UBQLN2 knockout HeLa and NSC34 cells have reduced expression of ATP6v1g1, a critical subunit of the vacuolar ATPase (V-ATPase) pump. Knockout of UBQLN2 expression in HeLa cells decreased turnover of ATP6v1g1, while overexpression of WT UBQLN2 increased biogenesis of ATP6v1g1 compared with P497S mutant UBQLN2 protein. In vitro interaction studies showed that ATP6v1g1 binds more strongly to WT UBQLN2 than to ALS/FTD mutant UBQLN2 proteins. Intriguingly, overexpression of ATP6v1g1 in UBQLN2 knockout HeLa cells increased autophagosome acidification, suggesting a therapeutic approach to overcome the acidification defect. Taken together, our findings suggest that UBQLN2 mutations drive pathogenesis through a dominant-negative loss-of-function mechanism in autophagy and that UBQLN2 functions as an important regulator of the expression and stability of ATP6v1g1. These findings may have important implications for devising therapies to treat <i>UBQLN2</i>-linked ALS/FTD.
Project description:Proteasomal shuttle factor UBQLN2 is recruited to stress granules and undergoes liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) into protein-containing droplets. Mutations to UBQLN2 have recently been shown to cause dominant X-linked inheritance of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and ALS/dementia. Interestingly, most of these UBQLN2 mutations reside in its proline-rich (Pxx) region, an important modulator of LLPS. Here, we demonstrated that ALS-linked Pxx mutations differentially affect UBQLN2 LLPS, depending on both amino acid substitution and sequence position. Using size-exclusion chromatography, analytical ultracentrifugation, microscopy, and NMR spectroscopy, we determined that those Pxx mutants that enhanced UBQLN2 oligomerization decreased saturation concentrations needed for LLPS and promoted solid-like and viscoelastic morphological changes to UBQLN2 liquid assemblies. Ubiquitin disassembled all LLPS-induced mutant UBQLN2 aggregates. We postulate that the changes in physical properties caused by ALS-linked Pxx mutations modify UBQLN2 behavior in vivo, possibly contributing to aberrant stress granule morphology and dynamics, leading to formation of inclusions, pathological characteristics of ALS.