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Motor neuron apoptosis and neuromuscular junction perturbation are prominent features in a Drosophila model of Fus-mediated ALS

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      Abstract

      BackgoundAmyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by the loss of motor function. Several ALS genes have been identified as their mutations can lead to familial ALS, including the recently reported RNA-binding protein fused in sarcoma (Fus). However, it is not clear how mutations of Fus lead to motor neuron degeneration in ALS. In this study, we present a Drosophila model to examine the toxicity of Fus, its Drosophila orthologue Cabeza (Caz), and the ALS-related Fus mutants.ResultsOur results show that the expression of wild-type Fus/Caz or FusR521G induced progressive toxicity in multiple tissues of the transgenic flies in a dose- and age-dependent manner. The expression of Fus, Caz, or FusR521G in motor neurons significantly impaired the locomotive ability of fly larvae and adults. The presynaptic structures in neuromuscular junctions were disrupted and motor neurons in the ventral nerve cord (VNC) were disorganized and underwent apoptosis. Surprisingly, the interruption of Fus nuclear localization by either deleting its nuclear localization sequence (NLS) or adding a nuclear export signal (NES) blocked Fus toxicity. Moreover, we discovered that the loss of caz in Drosophila led to severe growth defects in the eyes and VNCs, caused locomotive disability and NMJ disruption, but did not induce apoptotic cell death.ConclusionsThese data demonstrate that the overexpression of Fus/Caz causes in vivo toxicity by disrupting neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) and inducing apoptosis in motor neurons. In addition, the nuclear localization of Fus is essential for Fus to induce toxicity. Our findings also suggest that Fus overexpression and gene deletion can cause similar degenerative phenotypes but the underlying mechanisms are likely different.

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      Most cited references 46

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      Mutations in Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase gene are associated with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

      Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a degenerative disorder of motor neurons in the cortex, brainstem and spinal cord. Its cause is unknown and it is uniformly fatal, typically within five years. About 10% of cases are inherited as an autosomal dominant trait, with high penetrance after the sixth decade. In most instances, sporadic and autosomal dominant familial ALS (FALS) are clinically similar. We have previously shown that in some but not all FALS pedigrees the disease is linked to a genetic defect on chromosome 21q (refs 8, 9). Here we report tight genetic linkage between FALS and a gene that encodes a cytosolic, Cu/Zn-binding superoxide dismutase (SOD1), a homodimeric metalloenzyme that catalyzes the dismutation of the toxic superoxide anion O2.- to O2 and H2O2 (ref. 10). Given this linkage and the potential role of free radical toxicity in other neurodenegerative disorders, we investigated SOD1 as a candidate gene in FALS. We identified 11 different SOD1 missense mutations in 13 different FALS families.
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        An optimized transgenesis system for Drosophila using germ-line-specific phiC31 integrases.

        Germ-line transformation via transposable elements is a powerful tool to study gene function in Drosophila melanogaster. However, some inherent characteristics of transposon-mediated transgenesis limit its use for transgene analysis. Here, we circumvent these limitations by optimizing a phiC31-based integration system. We generated a collection of lines with precisely mapped attP sites that allow the insertion of transgenes into many different predetermined intergenic locations throughout the fly genome. By using regulatory elements of the nanos and vasa genes, we established endogenous sources of the phiC31 integrase, eliminating the difficulties of coinjecting integrase mRNA and raising the transformation efficiency. Moreover, to discriminate between specific and rare nonspecific integration events, a white gene-based reconstitution system was generated that enables visual selection for precise attP targeting. Finally, we demonstrate that our chromosomal attP sites can be modified in situ, extending their scope while retaining their properties as landing sites. The efficiency, ease-of-use, and versatility obtained here with the phiC31-based integration system represents an important advance in transgenesis and opens up the possibility of systematic, high-throughput screening of large cDNA sets and regulatory elements.
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          Mutations in the FUS/TLS gene on chromosome 16 cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

          Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal degenerative motor neuron disorder. Ten percent of cases are inherited; most involve unidentified genes. We report here 13 mutations in the fused in sarcoma/translated in liposarcoma (FUS/TLS) gene on chromosome 16 that were specific for familial ALS. The FUS/TLS protein binds to RNA, functions in diverse processes, and is normally located predominantly in the nucleus. In contrast, the mutant forms of FUS/TLS accumulated in the cytoplasm of neurons, a pathology that is similar to that of the gene TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP43), whose mutations also cause ALS. Neuronal cytoplasmic protein aggregation and defective RNA metabolism thus appear to be common pathogenic mechanisms involved in ALS and possibly in other neurodegenerative disorders.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Markey Cancer Center, University of Kentucky, KY 40536 Lexington, USA
            [2 ]Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky, KY 40536 Lexington, USA
            Contributors
            Journal
            Mol Neurodegener
            Mol Neurodegener
            Molecular Neurodegeneration
            BioMed Central
            1750-1326
            2012
            24 March 2012
            : 7
            : 10
            3325858
            1750-1326-7-10
            22443542
            10.1186/1750-1326-7-10
            Copyright ©2012 Xia et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Categories
            Research Article

            Neurosciences

            locomotion, als, neurodegeneration, caz, fus, drosophila

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