Biomarkers of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Current Status and Interest of Oxysterols and Phytosterols.
ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a non-demyelinating neurodegenerative disease in adults with motor disorders. Two forms exist: a sporadic form (90% of cases) and a family form due to mutations in more than 20 genes including the Superoxide dismutase 1, TAR DNA Binding Protein, Fused in Sarcoma, chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 and VAPB genes. The mechanisms associated with this pathology are beginning to be known: oxidative stress, glutamate excitotoxicity, protein aggregation, reticulum endoplasmic stress, neuroinflammation, alteration of RNA metabolism. In various neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease or multiple sclerosis, the involvement of lipids is increasingly suggested based on lipid metabolism modifications. With regard to ALS, research has also focused on the possible involvement of lipids. Lipid involvement was suggested for clinical arguments where changes in cholesterol and LDL/HDL levels were reported with, however, differences in positivity between studies. Since lipids are involved in the membrane structure and certain signaling pathways, it may be considered to look for oxysterols, mainly 25-hydroxycholesterol and its metabolites involved in immune response, or phytosterols to find suitable biomarkers for this pathology.
Project description:A point mutation (P56S) in the gene-encoding vesicle-associated membrane-protein-associated protein B (VAPB) leads to an autosomal-dominant form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), classified as ALS-8. The mutant VAPB is characterized by ER-associated aggregates that lead to a complete reorganization of ER structures. Growing evidences suggest VAPB involvement in ALS pathomechanisms. In fact, numerous studies demonstrated VAPB alteration also in sporadic ALS (sALS) and showed the presence of its aggregates when others ALS-related gene are mutant. Recently, the identification of new biomarkers in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) has been proposed as a good noninvasive option for studying ALS. Here, we evaluated VAPB as a possible ALS pathologic marker analyzing PBMCs of sALS patients. Immunofluorescence analysis (IFA) showed a peculiar pattern of VAPB aggregates in sALS, not evident in healthy control (HC) subjects and in Parkinson's disease (PD) PBMCs. This specific pattern led us to suppose that VAPB could be misfolded in sALS. The data indirectly confirmed by flow cytometry assay (FCA) showed a reduction of VAPB fluorescent signals in sALS. However, our observations were not associated with the presence of a genetic mutation or altered gene expression of VAPB. Our study brings further evidences of the VAPB role in ALS as a diagnostic biomarker.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects upper and lower motor neurons. Since motor neurons target skeletal muscles, the maintenance system of muscles is disturbed in ALS; however, the mechanism by which this occurs is unknown. In the present study, we investigated the effects of ALS-associated P56S-vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein B (VAPB) (P56S-VAPB) on the IRE1-XBP1 pathway, which is involved in the unfolded protein response (UPR) of the mouse myoblast cell line (C2C12 cells). Experiments with C2C12 cells transfected with wild-type wt-VAPB and P56S-VAPB expression vectors showed reduced myotube formation and aberrant myonuclear position in cells expressing P56S-VAPB. Activity of the IRE1-XBP1 pathway in the cells visualized with the ERAI system revealed that the pathway was disrupted in cells expressing P56S-VAPB, whereas the IRE1-XBP1 pathway activity was enhanced in the differentiation process of normal C2C12 cells. These results suggest that disruption of the IRE1-XBP1 pathway is a cause for the reduced myotube formation in P56S-VAPB-expressing cells. The expression level of the VAPB protein has been reported to be reduced in the neurons of patients with ALS. Therefore, it is expected that the IRE1-XBP1 pathway is also impaired in muscle tissues of patients with ALS, which causes a disturbance in the muscle maintenance system.
Project description:Motor neuron diseases (MNDs) are a group of neurodegenerative disorders with involvement of upper and/or lower motor neurons, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), progressive bulbar palsy, and primary lateral sclerosis. Recently, we have mapped a new locus for an atypical form of ALS/MND (atypical amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS8]) at 20q13.3 in a large white Brazilian family. Here, we report the finding of a novel missense mutation in the vesicle-associated membrane protein/synaptobrevin-associated membrane protein B (VAPB) gene in patients from this family. Subsequently, the same mutation was identified in patients from six additional kindreds but with different clinical courses, such as ALS8, late-onset SMA, and typical severe ALS with rapid progression. Although it was not possible to link all these families, haplotype analysis suggests a founder effect. Members of the vesicle-associated proteins are intracellular membrane proteins that can associate with microtubules and that have been shown to have a function in membrane transport. These data suggest that clinically variable MNDs may be caused by a dysfunction in intracellular membrane trafficking.
Project description:Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by selective death of motor neurons. In 5-10% of the familial cases, the disease is inherited because of mutations. One such mutation, P56S, was identified in human VAPB that behaves in a dominant negative manner, sequestering wild type protein into cytoplasmic inclusions. We have conducted a reverse genetic screen to identify interactors of Drosophila VAPB. We screened 2635 genes and identified 103 interactors, of which 45 were enhancers and 58 were suppressors of VAPB function. Interestingly, the screen identified known ALS loci - TBPH, alsin2 and SOD1. Also identified were genes involved in cellular energetics and homeostasis which were used to build a gene regulatory network of VAPB modifiers. One key modifier identified was Tor, whose knockdown reversed the large bouton phenotype associated with VAP(P58S) expression in neurons. A similar reversal was seen by over-expressing Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (Tsc1,2) that negatively regulates TOR signaling as also by reduction of S6K activity. In comparison, the small bouton phenotype associated with VAP(wt) expression was reversed with Tsc1 knock down as well as S6K-CA expression. Tor therefore interacts with both VAP(wt) and VAP(P58S), but in a contrasting manner. Reversal of VAP(P58S) bouton phenotypes in larvae fed with the TOR inhibitor Rapamycin suggests upregulation of TOR signaling in response to VAP(P58S) expression. The VAPB network and further mechanistic understanding of interactions with key pathways, such as the TOR cassette, will pave the way for a better understanding of the mechanisms of onset and progression of motor neuron disease.
Project description:The vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated proteins (VAPs) VAPA and VAPB interact with lipid-binding proteins carrying a short motif containing two phenylalanines in an acidic tract (FFAT motif) and targets them to the cytosolic surface of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). A genetic mutation (P56S) in the conserved major sperm protein homology domain of VAPB has been linked to motor-neuron degeneration in affected amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients. We report that in the CNS, VAPB is abundant in motor neurons and that the P56S substitution causes aggregation of mutant VAPB in immobile tubular ER clusters, perturbs FFAT-motif binding, and traps endogenous VAP in mutant aggregates. Expression of mutant VAPB or reduction of VAP by short hairpin RNA in primary neurons causes Golgi dispersion and cell death. VAPA and VAPB are reduced in human ALS patients and superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1)-ALS-transgenic mice, suggesting that VAP family proteins may be involved in the pathogenesis of sporadic and SOD1-linked ALS. Our data support a model in which reduced levels of VAP family proteins result in decreased ER anchoring of lipid-binding proteins and cause motor neuron degeneration.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incurable neuromuscular disease that leads to a profound loss of life quality and premature death. Around 10% of the cases are inherited and ALS8 is an autosomal dominant form of familial ALS caused by mutations in the vamp-associated protein B/C (VAPB) gene. The VAPB protein is involved in many cellular processes and it likely contributes to the pathogenesis of other forms of ALS besides ALS8. A number of successful drug tests in ALS animal models could not be translated to humans underscoring the need for novel approaches. The induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) technology brings new hope, since it can be used to model and investigate diseases in vitro. Here we present an additional tool to study ALS based on ALS8-iPSC. Fibroblasts from ALS8 patients and their non-carrier siblings were successfully reprogrammed to a pluripotent state and differentiated into motor neurons. We show for the first time that VAPB protein levels are reduced in ALS8-derived motor neurons but, in contrast to over-expression systems, cytoplasmic aggregates could not be identified. Our results suggest that optimal levels of VAPB may play a central role in the pathogenesis of ALS8, in agreement with the observed reduction of VAPB in sporadic ALS.
Project description:The pathological process underlying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is associated with the formation of cytoplasmic inclusions consisting mainly of phosphorylated 43-kDa transactive response DNA-binding protein (pTDP-43), which plays an essential part in the pathogenesis of ALS. Preliminary evidence indicates that neuronal involvement progresses at different rates, but in a similar sequence, in different patients with ALS. This observation supports the emerging concept of prion-like propagation of abnormal proteins in noninfectious neurodegenerative diseases. Although the distance between involved regions is often considerable, the affected neurons are connected by axonal projections, indicating that physical contacts between nerve cells along axons are important for dissemination of ALS pathology. This article posits that the trajectory of the spreading pattern is consistent with the induction and dissemination of pTDP-43 pathology chiefly from cortical neuronal projections, via axonal transport, through synaptic contacts to the spinal cord and other regions of the brain.
Project description:Signaling between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria regulates a number of key neuronal functions. This signaling involves close physical contacts between the two organelles that are mediated by "tethering proteins" that function to recruit regions of ER to the mitochondrial surface. The ER protein, vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein B (VAPB) and the mitochondrial membrane protein, protein tyrosine phosphatase interacting protein-51 (PTPIP51), interact to form one such tether. Recently, damage to ER-mitochondria signaling involving disruption of the VAPB-PTPIP51 tethers has been linked to the pathogenic process in Parkinson's disease, fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) and related amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Loss of neuronal synaptic function is a key feature of Parkinson's disease and FTD/ALS but the roles that ER-mitochondria signaling and the VAPB-PTPIP51 tethers play in synaptic function are not known. Here, we demonstrate that the VAPB-PTPIP51 tethers regulate synaptic activity. VAPB and PTPIP51 localise and form contacts at synapses, and stimulating neuronal activity increases ER-mitochondria contacts and the VAPB-PTPIP51 interaction. Moreover, siRNA loss of VAPB or PTPIP51 perturbs synaptic function and dendritic spine morphology. Our results reveal a new role for the VAPB-PTPIP51 tethers in neurons and suggest that damage to ER-mitochondria signaling contributes to synaptic dysfunction in Parkinson's disease and FTD/ALS.
Project description:An ER transmembrane protein, vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein B (VAPB), binds to several organelle-resident membrane proteins to mediate ER-organelle tethering. Mutation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) induces protein misfolding and aggregation, leading to ER disorganization. Gain or loss of function is suggested for VAPB mutation, however comprehensive study focusing on VAPB-ER domain has yet been performed. We here conducted proteomic characterization of the ER containing VAPB and its ALS-linked P56S mutant. For this purpose, we first optimized the proteomics of different ER domains immuno-isolated from cultured cells, and identified ER sheet- and tubule-specific proteomes. By using these as references, we found that VAPB-ER proteome had intermediate ER domain properties but its tubular property was specifically decreased by its mutation. Biochemical, immunofluorescence and proximity ligation assays suggested this was mediated by delocalization of VAPB from ER tubules. The VAPB-ER proteomics further suggested reduced incorporation of multiple proteins located in different organelles, which was confirmed by proximity ligation assay. Taken together, our proteomics-based approach indicates altered ER domain properties and impaired ER-organelle tethering by VAPB mutation.
Project description: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.