Caspase-4 mediates cytoplasmic accumulation of TDP-43 in the primate brains



The cytoplasmic accumulation of the nuclear TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is a pathologic hallmark in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and other neurological disorders. However, most transgenic TDP-43 rodent models show predominant nuclear distribution of TDP-43 in the brain. By expressing mutant TDP-43 (M337V) in the brains of rhesus monkeys and mice, we verified that mutant TDP-43 is distributed in the cytoplasm of the monkey brain and that the majority of mutant TDP-43 remains in the nuclei of the mouse brain. The primate-specific caspase-4, but not mouse homologue caspase-11, could remove the NLS-containing N-terminal domain and generate fragmented TDP-43 that accumulates in the cytoplasm. Moreover, increased expression of caspase-4 in the monkey brain promotes the cytoplasmic accumulation of endogenous TDP-43, and suppressing caspase-4 reduces the cytoplasmic distribution of endogenous TDP-43 in cultured human neural cells. Our findings suggest that primate-specific caspase-4-mediated cleavage of TDP-43 accounts for its cytoplasmic mislocalization in the primate brains and may serve as a potential therapeutic target.


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