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J Biol Chem. 2007 Sep 21;282(38):28087-95. Epub 2007 Jul 31.

Disulfide bond mediates aggregation, toxicity, and ubiquitylation of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-linked mutant SOD1.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, 65 Tsurumai-cho, Showa-ku, Nagoya 466-8500, Japan.

Abstract

Mutations in the Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) through the gain of a toxic function; however, the nature of this toxic function remains largely unknown. Ubiquitylated aggregates of mutant SOD1 proteins in affected brain lesions are pathological hallmarks of the disease and are suggested to be involved in several proposed mechanisms of motor neuron death. Recent studies suggest that mutant SOD1 readily forms an incorrect disulfide bond upon mild oxidative stress in vitro, and the insoluble SOD1 aggregates in spinal cord of ALS model mice contain multimers cross-linked via intermolecular disulfide bonds. Here we show that a non-physiological intermolecular disulfide bond between cysteines at positions 6 and 111 of mutant SOD1 is important for high molecular weight aggregate formation, ubiquitylation, and neurotoxicity, all of which were dramatically reduced when the pertinent cysteines were replaced in mutant SOD1 expressed in Neuro-2a cells. Dorfin is a ubiquityl ligase that specifically binds familial ALS-linked mutant SOD1 and ubiquitylates it, thereby promoting its degradation. We found that Dorfin ubiquitylated mutant SOD1 by recognizing the Cys(6)- and Cys(111)-disulfide cross-linked form and targeted it for proteasomal degradation.

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