ALS/FTD mutations in UBQLN2 impede autophagy by reducing autophagosome acidification through loss of function.
ABSTRACT: Mutations in UBQLN2 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 UBQLN2 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 UBQLN2-linked ALS/FTD.
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: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 ubiquilin2 (UBQLN2) have been linked to abnormal protein aggregation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The mechanisms underlying UBQLN2-related neurodegenerative diseases remain unclear. Using a tetracycline-regulated gene expression system, the ALS-linked UBQLN2P497H mutant was selectively expressed in either the spinal motor neurons or astrocytes in rats. We found that selectively expressing mutant UBQLN2P497H in the spinal motor neurons caused several core features of ALS, including the progressive degeneration of motor neurons, the denervation atrophy of skeletal muscles, and the abnormal protein accumulation. Furthermore, mutant UBQLN2P497H accumulation was associated with an age-dependent decrease in several core autophagy-related proteins. ALS-like phenotypes were not observed when mutant UBQLN2P497H was overexpressed in the astrocytes, however, even though the expression of the mutant UBQLN2P497H protein was higher in these rats. Our results suggest that selectively expressing mutant UBQLN2P497H in motor neurons is sufficient to trigger the development of ALS in rats. Our results further indicate that the compromised autophagy-lysosomal pathway plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of UBQLN2-related neurodegenerative diseases.
Project description:The ubiquitin-like protein ubiquilin 2 (UBQLN2) has been genetically and pathologically linked to the neurodegenerative diseases amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), but its normal cellular functions are not well understood. In a search for UBQLN2-interacting proteins, we found an enrichment of stress granule (SG) components, including ALS/FTD-linked heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein fused in sarcoma (FUS). Through the use of an optimized SG detection method, we observed UBQLN2 and its interactors at SGs. A low complexity, Sti1-like repeat region in UBQLN2 was sufficient for its localization to SGs. Functionally, UBQLN2 negatively regulated SG formation. UBQLN2 increased the dynamics of FUS-RNA interaction and promoted the fluidity of FUS-RNA complexes at a single-molecule level. This solubilizing effect corresponded to a dispersal of FUS liquid droplets in vitro and a suppression of FUS SG formation in cells. ALS-linked mutations in UBQLN2 reduced its association with FUS and impaired its function in regulating FUS-RNA complex dynamics and SG formation. These results reveal a previously unrecognized role for UBQLN2 in regulating the early stages of liquid-liquid phase separation by directly modulating the fluidity of protein-RNA complexes and the dynamics of SG formation.
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:To address whether expression of ALS/FTD-associated UBQLN2 mutant variants changes the cellular proteome, we performed label-free quantification-based global protein abundance profiling of patient-derived LCLs and CRISPR engineered HeLa cells. UBQLN2 mutant in both cell lines carried the mutation T487I or P497S both of which were reported to cause ALS (Deng et al., 2011; Williams et al, 2012). In addition, HeLa cells stably expressing HA-tagged MAP1B (HA-MAP1B) were subjected to HA immunoprecipitation (IP) followed by mass spectrometry to identify MAP1B interacting proteins.
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:Although the aetiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) remains poorly understood, impaired proteostasis is a common feature of different forms of ALS. Mutations in genes encoding ubiquilins, UBQLN2 and UBQLN4, cause familial ALS. The role of ubiquilins in proteasomal degradation is well established, but their role in autophagy-lysosomal clearance is poorly defined. Here, we describe a crosstalk between endoplasmic reticulum stress, mTOR signalling and autophagic flux in Drosophila and mammalian cells lacking ubiquilins. We found that loss of ubiquilins leads to endoplasmic reticulum stress, impairs mTORC1 activity, promotes autophagy and causes the demise of neurons. We show that ubiquilin mutants display defective autophagic flux due to reduced lysosome acidification. Ubiquilins are required to maintain proper levels of the V0a/V100 subunit of the vacuolar H+-ATPase and lysosomal pH. Feeding flies acidic nanoparticles alleviates defective autophagic flux in ubiquilin mutants. Hence, our studies reveal a conserved role for ubiquilins as regulators of autophagy by controlling vacuolar H+-ATPase activity and mTOR signalling.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurological disease with no effective treatment available. An increasing number of genetic causes of ALS are being identified, but how these genetic defects lead to motor neuron degeneration and to which extent they affect common cellular pathways remains incompletely understood. To address these questions, we performed an interactomic analysis to identify binding partners of wild-type (WT) and ALS-associated mutant versions of ATXN2, C9orf72, FUS, OPTN, TDP-43 and UBQLN2 in neuronal cells. This analysis identified several known but also many novel binding partners of these proteins. Interactomes of WT and mutant ALS proteins were very similar except for OPTN and UBQLN2, in which mutations caused loss or gain of protein interactions. Several of the identified interactomes showed a high degree of overlap: shared binding partners of ATXN2, FUS and TDP-43 had roles in RNA metabolism; OPTN- and UBQLN2-interacting proteins were related to protein degradation and protein transport, and C9orf72 interactors function in mitochondria. To confirm that this overlap is important for ALS pathogenesis, we studied fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), one of the common interactors of ATXN2, FUS and TDP-43, in more detail in in vitro and in vivo model systems for FUS ALS. FMRP localized to mutant FUS-containing aggregates in spinal motor neurons and bound endogenous FUS in a direct and RNA-sensitive manner. Furthermore, defects in synaptic FMRP mRNA target expression, neuromuscular junction integrity, and motor behavior caused by mutant FUS in zebrafish embryos, could be rescued by exogenous FMRP expression. Together, these results show that interactomics analysis can provide crucial insight into ALS disease mechanisms and they link FMRP to motor neuron dysfunction caused by FUS mutations.