Mutation-dependent aggregation and toxicity in a Drosophila model for UBQLN2-associated ALS.
ABSTRACT: 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:Mutations in the gene encoding ubiquilin2 (UBQLN2) cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal type of dementia, or both. However, the molecular mechanisms are unknown. Here, we show that ALS/dementia-linked UBQLN2(P497H) transgenic mice develop neuronal pathology with ubiquilin2/ubiquitin/p62-positive inclusions in the brain, especially in the hippocampus, recapitulating several key pathological features of dementia observed in human patients with UBQLN2 mutations. A major feature of the ubiquilin2-related pathology in these mice, and reminiscent of human disease, is a dendritic spinopathy with protein aggregation in the dendritic spines and an associated decrease in dendritic spine density and synaptic dysfunction. Finally, we show that the protein inclusions in the dendritic spines are composed of several components of the proteasome machinery, including Ub(G76V)-GFP, a representative ubiquitinated protein substrate that is accumulated in the transgenic mice. Our data, therefore, directly link impaired protein degradation to inclusion formation that is associated with synaptic dysfunction and cognitive deficits. These data imply a convergent molecular pathway involving synaptic protein recycling that may also be involved in other neurodegenerative disorders, with implications for development of widely applicable rational therapeutics.
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: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 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.
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: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: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: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:Familial neurodegenerative diseases commonly involve mutations that result in either aberrant proteins or dysfunctional components of the proteolytic machinery that acts on aberrant proteins. UBQLN2 is a ubiquitin receptor of the UBL/UBA family that binds the proteasome through its ubiquitin-like (UBL) domain and is thought to deliver ubiquitinated proteins to proteasomes for degradation. UBQLN2 mutations result in familial ALS/FTD in humans through an unknown mechanism. Quantitative multiplexed proteomics was used to provide for the first time an unbiased and global analysis of the role of Ubqln2 in controlling the composition of the proteome. We studied several murine models of Ubqln2-linked ALS and also generated Ubqln2 null mutant mice. We identified impacts of Ubqln2 on diverse physiological pathways, most notably serotonergic signaling. Interestingly, we observed upregulation of proteasome subunits, suggesting a compensatory response to diminished proteasome output. Among the specific proteins whose abundance is linked to UBQLN2 function, the strongest hits were the ubiquitin ligase TRIM32 and two retroelement-derived proteins, PEG10 and CXX1B. Cycloheximide chase studies using induced human neurons and HEK293 cells suggested that PEG10 and TRIM32 are direct clients. Although directing the degradation of multiple proteins via the proteasome, UBQLN2 surprisingly conferred strong protection from degradation on the Gag-like protein CXX1B, which is expressed from the same family of retroelement genes as PEG10. In summary, this study charts the proteomic landscape of ALS-related Ubqln2 mutants and identifies candidate client proteins that are altered in vivo in disease models and whose degradation is promoted by UBQLN2.