admin December 1, 2017

Abstract

Hexanucleotide repeat expansions in C9orf72 are the most common genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (C9 ALS). The main hypothesized pathogenic mechanisms are C9orf72 haploinsufficiency and/or toxicity from one or more of bi-directionally transcribed repeat RNAs and their dipeptide repeat proteins (DPRs) poly-GP, poly-GA, poly-GR, poly-PR and poly-PA. Recently, nuclear import and/or export defects especially caused by arginine-containing poly-GR or poly-PR have been proposed as significant contributors to pathogenesis based on disease models. We quantitatively studied and compared DPRs, nuclear pore proteins and C9orf72 protein in clinically related and clinically unrelated regions of the central nervous system, and compared them to phosphorylated TDP-43 (pTDP-43), the hallmark protein of ALS. Of the five DPRs, only poly-GR was significantly abundant in clinically related areas compared to unrelated areas (p < 0.001), and formed dendritic-like aggregates in the motor cortex that co-localized with pTDP-43 (p < 0.0001). While most poly-GR dendritic inclusions were pTDP-43 positive, only 4% of pTDP-43 dendritic inclusions were poly-GR positive. Staining for arginine-containing poly-GR and poly-PR in nuclei of neurons produced signals that were not specific to C9 ALS. We could not detect significant differences of nuclear markers RanGap, Lamin B1, and Importin β1 in C9 ALS, although we observed subtle nuclear changes in ALS, both C9 and non-C9, compared to control. The C9orf72 protein itself was diffusely expressed in cytoplasm of large neurons and glia, and nearly 50% reduced, in both clinically related frontal cortex and unrelated occipital cortex, but not in cerebellum. In summary, sense-encoded poly-GR DPR was unique, and localized to dendrites and pTDP43 in motor regions of C9 ALS CNS. This is consistent with new emerging ideas about TDP-43 functions in dendrites.

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