A low level of expression of C-terminally truncated human FUS causes extensive changes in the spinal cord transcriptome of asymptomatic transgenic mice
ABSTRACT: A number of mutations in a gene encoding RNA-binding protein FUS was linked to the development of a familial form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis known a FUS-ALS. C-terminal truncations of FUS by a nonsense or frameshift mutations lead to the development of FUS-ALS with a particularly early onset and fast progression. However, even in patients with this aggressive form of the disease the function of motor neurons is not noticeably compromised for at least a couple of decades suggesting that until accumulation in the cytoplasm of pathogenic FUS lacking its C-terminal nuclear localisation signal does not reach a critical threshold, motor neurons are able to tolerate its permanent production. In order to identify how the nervous system responds to low levels of pathogenic variants of FUS we produced and characterised a mouse line, L-FUS[1-359], with a low level of neuronal expression of a highly aggregation prone and pathogenic form of C-terminally truncated FUS. In contrast to mice with substantially higher level of expression of the same FUS variant that develop severe early onset motor neuron pathology, L-FUS[1-359] mice do not develop any sign of pathology even at old age. Nevertheless, we detected substantial changes in the spinal cord transcriptome of these mice comparing to the wild type littermates. We suggest that at least some of these changes reflect activation of cellular mechanisms compensating to potentially damaging effect of pathogenic FUS production. Further studies of these mechanism might reveal effective target for therapy of FUS-ALS and possibly, other forms of ALS Overall design: Exploring differential gene expression between wild-type (4 samples) and transgenic samples (4 samples)
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disorder leading to the eventual death of motor neurons. Described cases of familial ALS have emerged the significance of protein misfolding and aggregation of two functionally related proteins, FUS and TDP-43, implicated in RNA metabolism. Herein, using the in vivo model of FUS-mediated proteinopathy (FUS1-359 mice) we performed the comprehensive analysis encompassing the onset of the first clinical symptoms, inclusions formations as well as changes in gene expression profile in motor neurons and surrounding microglia. The obtained data show that FUS-mediated proteinopathy is predominantly asymptomatic in terms of both the clinical symptoms and molecular aspects of neurodegeneration until it reaches the terminal stage of disease progression (120 days from birth). From this time point the pathological process develops very rapidly resulting in massive FUS-positive inclusions formation which is accompanying by the transcriptional “burst” in the spinal cord cells. Specifically it manifests in activation of pro-inflammatory phenotype of microglial cells and malfunction of acetylcholine synapse transmission in motor neurons. We conclude that a stable course of the pathological process, as well as described accompanying features, make FUS1-359 mice a convenient model for testing potential therapeutics against proteinopathy-induced decay of motor neurons. Overall design: RNA-sequencing of transgenic and non-transgenic mice cervical region of spinal cord
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) presents a poorly understood pathogenesis. Evidence from patients and mutant SOD1 mouse models suggests vascular damage may precede or aggravate motor dysfunction in ALS. We have previously shown angiogenin (ANG) treatment enhances motor neuron survival, delays motor dysfunction and prevents vascular regression in the SOD1G93A ALS model. However, the existence of vascular defects at different stages of disease progression remains to be established in other ALS models. Here, we assessed vascular integrity in vivo throughout different disease stages, and investigated whether ANG treatment reverses vascular regression and prolongs motor neuron survival in the FUS (1-359) mouse model of ALS. Lumbar spinal cord tissue was collected from FUS (1-359) and non-transgenic control mice at postnatal day (P)50, P90 and P120. We found a significant decrease in vascular network density in lumbar spinal cords from FUS (1-359) mice by day 90, at which point motor neuron numbers were unaffected. ANG treatment did not affect survival or counter vascular regression. Endogenous Ang1 and Vegf expression were unchanged at P50 and P90; however, we found a significant decrease in miRNA 126 at P50, indicating vascular integrity in FUS mice may be compromised via an alternative pathway. Our study demonstrates that vascular regression occurs before motor neuron degeneration in FUS (1-359) mice, and highlights that heterogeneity in responses to novel ALS therapeutics can already be detected in preclinical mouse models of ALS.This article has an associated First Person interview with the joint first authors of the paper.
Project description:Motor neuron-extrinsic mechanisms have been shown to participate in the pathogenesis of ALS-SOD1, one familial form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It remains unclear whether such mechanisms contribute to other familial forms, such as TDP-43 and FUS-associated ALS. Here, we characterize a single-copy mouse model of ALS-FUS that conditionally expresses a disease-relevant truncating FUS mutant from the endogenous murine Fus gene. We show that these mice, but not mice heterozygous for a Fus null allele, develop similar pathology as ALS-FUS patients and a mild motor neuron phenotype. Most importantly, CRE-mediated rescue of the Fus mutation within motor neurons prevented degeneration of motor neuron cell bodies, but only delayed appearance of motor symptoms. Indeed, we observed downregulation of multiple myelin-related genes, and increased numbers of oligodendrocytes in the spinal cord supporting their contribution to behavioral deficits. In all, we show that mutant FUS triggers toxic events in both motor neurons and neighboring cells to elicit motor neuron disease.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disorder due to selective loss of motor neurons (MNs). Mutations in the fused in sarcoma (FUS) gene can cause both juvenile and late onset ALS. We generated and characterized induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from ALS patients with different FUS mutations, as well as from healthy controls. Patient-derived MNs show typical cytoplasmic FUS pathology, hypoexcitability, as well as progressive axonal transport defects. Axonal transport defects are rescued by CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genetic correction of the FUS mutation in patient-derived iPSCs. Moreover, these defects are reproduced by expressing mutant FUS in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), whereas knockdown of endogenous FUS has no effect, confirming that these pathological changes are mutant FUS dependent. Pharmacological inhibition as well as genetic silencing of histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) increase ?-tubulin acetylation, endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-mitochondrial overlay, and restore the axonal transport defects in patient-derived MNs.Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) leads to selective loss of motor neurons. Using motor neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells from patients with ALS and FUS mutations, the authors demonstrate that axonal transport deficits that are observed in these cells can be rescued by HDAC6 inhibition.
Project description:Juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with basophilic inclusions is a form of ALS characterized by protein deposits in motor neurons that are morphologically and tinctorially distinct from those of classic sporadic ALS. The nosologic position of this type of ALS in the molecular pathologic and genetic classification of ALS is unknown.We identified neuropathologically 4 patients with juvenile ALS with basophilic inclusions and tested the hypothesis that specific RNA binding protein pathology may define this type of ALS. Immunohistochemical findings prompted us to sequence the fused in sarcoma (FUS) gene.Motor symptoms began between ages 17 and 22. Disease progression was rapid without dementia. No family history was identified. Basophilic inclusions were strongly positive for FUS protein but negative for TAR DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43). Granular and compact FUS deposits were identified in glia and neuronal cytoplasm and nuclei. Ultrastructure of aggregates was in keeping with origin from fragmented rough endoplasmic reticulum. Sequencing of all 15 exons of the FUS gene in 3 patients revealed a novel deletion mutation (c.1554_1557delACAG) in 1 individual and the c.1574C>T (P525L) mutation in 2 others.Juvenile ALS with basophilic inclusions is a FUS proteinopathy and should be classified as ALS-FUS. The FUS c.1574C>T (P525L) and c.1554_1557delACAG mutations are associated with this distinct phenotype. The molecular genetic relationship with frontotemporal lobar degeneration with FUS pathology remains to be clarified.
Project description:Mutations in FUS cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), including some of the most aggressive, juvenile-onset forms of the disease. FUS loss-of-function and toxic gain-of-function mechanisms have been proposed to explain how mutant FUS leads to motor neuron degeneration, but neither has been firmly established in the pathogenesis of ALS. Here we characterize a series of transgenic FUS mouse lines that manifest progressive, mutant-dependent motor neuron degeneration preceded by early, structural and functional abnormalities at the neuromuscular junction. A novel, conditional FUS knockout mutant reveals that postnatal elimination of FUS has no effect on motor neuron survival or function. Moreover, endogenous FUS does not contribute to the onset of the ALS phenotype induced by mutant FUS. These findings demonstrate that FUS-dependent motor degeneration is not due to loss of FUS function, but to the gain of toxic properties conferred by ALS mutations.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) are relentlessly progressive neurodegenerative disorders with overlapping clinical, genetic and pathological features. Cytoplasmic inclusions of fused in sarcoma (FUS) are the hallmark of several forms of FTLD and ALS patients with mutations in the FUS gene. FUS is a multifunctional, predominantly nuclear, DNA and RNA binding protein. Here, we report that transgenic mice overexpressing wild-type human FUS develop an aggressive phenotype with an early onset tremor followed by progressive hind limb paralysis and death by 12 weeks in homozygous animals. Large motor neurons were lost from the spinal cord accompanied by neurophysiological evidence of denervation and focal muscle atrophy. Surviving motor neurons in the spinal cord had greatly increased cytoplasmic expression of FUS, with globular and skein-like FUS-positive and ubiquitin-negative inclusions associated with astroglial and microglial reactivity. Cytoplasmic FUS inclusions were also detected in the brain of transgenic mice without apparent neuronal loss and little astroglial or microglial activation. Hemizygous FUS overexpressing mice showed no evidence of a motor phenotype or pathology. These findings recapitulate several pathological features seen in human ALS and FTLD patients, and suggest that overexpression of wild-type FUS in vulnerable neurons may be one of the root causes of disease. Furthermore, these mice will provide a new model to study disease mechanism, and test therapies.
Project description:AIMS:Mutations in DNA/RNA-binding factor (fused-in-sarcoma) FUS and superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD-1) cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). They were reproduced in SOD-1-G93A (SOD-1) and new FUS[1-359]-transgenic (FUS-tg) mice, where inflammation contributes to disease progression. The effects of standard disease therapy and anti-inflammatory treatments were investigated using these mutants. METHODS:FUS-tg mice or controls received either vehicle, or standard ALS treatment riluzole (8 mg/kg/day), or anti-inflammatory drug a selective blocker of cyclooxygenase-2 celecoxib (30 mg/kg/day) for six weeks, or a single intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) infusion of Neuro-Cells (a preparation of 1.39 × 106 mesenchymal and hemopoietic human stem cells, containing 5 × 105 of CD34+ cells), which showed anti-inflammatory properties. SOD-1 mice received i.c.v.-administration of Neuro-Cells or vehicle. RESULTS:All FUS-tg-treated animals displayed less marked reductions in weight gain, food/water intake, and motor deficits than FUS-tg-vehicle-treated mice. Neuro-Cell-treated mutants had reduced muscle atrophy and lumbar motor neuron degeneration. This group but not celecoxib-FUS-tg-treated mice had ameliorated motor performance and lumbar expression of microglial activation marker, ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule-1 (Iba-1), and glycogen-synthase-kinase-3ß (GSK-3ß). The Neuro-Cells-treated-SOD-1 mice showed better motor functions than vehicle-treated-SOD-1 group. CONCLUSION:The neuropathology in FUS-tg mice is sensitive to standard ALS treatments and Neuro-Cells infusion. The latter improves motor outcomes in two ALS models possibly by suppressing microglial activation.
Project description:Neuromuscular junction (NMJ) disruption is an early pathogenic event in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Yet, direct links between NMJ pathways and ALS-associated genes such as FUS, whose heterozygous mutations cause aggressive forms of ALS, remain elusive. In a knock-in Fus-ALS mouse model, we identified postsynaptic NMJ defects in newborn homozygous mutants that were attributable to mutant FUS toxicity in skeletal muscle. Adult heterozygous knock-in mice displayed smaller neuromuscular endplates that denervated before motor neuron loss, which is consistent with 'dying-back' neuronopathy. FUS was enriched in subsynaptic myonuclei, and this innervation-dependent enrichment was distorted in FUS-ALS. Mechanistically, FUS collaborates with the ETS transcription factor ERM to stimulate transcription of acetylcholine receptor genes. Co-cultures of induced pluripotent stem cell-derived motor neurons and myotubes from patients with FUS-ALS revealed endplate maturation defects due to intrinsic FUS toxicity in both motor neurons and myotubes. Thus, FUS regulates acetylcholine receptor gene expression in subsynaptic myonuclei, and muscle-intrinsic toxicity of ALS mutant FUS may contribute to dying-back motor neuronopathy.
Project description:Mutations in fused in sarcoma (FUS) lead to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with varying ages of onset, progression and severity. This suggests that unknown genetic factors contribute to disease pathogenesis. Here we show the identification of muscleblind as a novel modifier of FUS-mediated neurodegeneration in vivo. Muscleblind regulates cytoplasmic mislocalization of mutant FUS and subsequent accumulation in stress granules, dendritic morphology and toxicity in mammalian neuronal and human iPSC-derived neurons. Interestingly, genetic modulation of endogenous muscleblind was sufficient to restore survival motor neuron (SMN) protein localization in neurons expressing pathogenic mutations in FUS, suggesting a potential mode of suppression of FUS toxicity. Upregulation of SMN suppressed FUS toxicity in Drosophila and primary cortical neurons, indicating a link between FUS and SMN. Our data provide in vivo evidence that muscleblind is a dominant modifier of FUS-mediated neurodegeneration by regulating FUS-mediated ALS pathogenesis.