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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2007 Dec;66(12):1147-53.

Evidence that TDP-43 is not the major ubiquitinated target within the pathological inclusions of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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  • 1Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult-onset neurodegenerative disease characterized by the presence of various types of ubiquitinated inclusions in the cytoplasm of affected motor neurons. The identification of the ubiquitinated targets within these inclusions has represented a major challenge, as this may provide new gene candidates and/or clues to understanding the neurodegenerative mechanism(s) underlying the disease. As such, the nuclear factor TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP-43) was recently identified as a component of ubiquitinated skein-like inclusions and round inclusions in ALS. This identification combined with biochemical evidence led to the suggestion that TDP-43 is the key ubiquitinated target and major disease protein in ALS. Here, using 3-dimensional deconvolution imaging, we have obtained remarkable resolution of skein-like inclusions and round inclusions in ALS. Surprisingly we have found that in contrast to current thinking, TDP-43 is not the major ubiquitinated target within these types of inclusions. These findings raise the possibility that TDP-43 may not necessarily be the key disease protein in ALS and indicate that the major target(s) of ubiquitination remain to be identified.

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