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Am J Pathol. 2008 Jul;173(1):182-94. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2008.080003. Epub 2008 Jun 5.

Enrichment of C-terminal fragments in TAR DNA-binding protein-43 cytoplasmic inclusions in brain but not in spinal cord of frontotemporal lobar degeneration and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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  • 1Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 3600 Spruce St., 3rd floor, Maloney Bldg., Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP-43) has been recently described as a major pathological protein in both frontotemporal dementia with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However, little is known about the relative abundance and distribution of different pathological TDP-43 species, which include hyperphosphorylated, ubiquitinated, and N-terminally cleaved TDP-43. Here, we developed novel N-terminal (N-t) and C-terminal (C-t)-specific TDP-43 antibodies and performed biochemical and immunohistochemical studies to analyze cortical, hippocampal, and spinal cord tissue from frontotemporal dementia with ubiquitin-positive inclusions and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases. C-t-specific TDP-43 antibodies revealed similar abundance, morphology, and distribution of dystrophic neurites and neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions in cortex and hippocampus compared with previously described pan-TDP-43 antibodies. By contrast, N-t-specific TDP-43 antibodies only detected a small subset of these lesions. Biochemical studies confirmed the presence of C-t TDP-43 fragments but not extreme N-t fragments. Surprisingly, immunohistochemical analysis of inclusions in spinal cord motor neurons in both diseases showed that they are N-t and C-t positive. TDP-43 inclusions in Alzheimer's disease brains also were examined, and similar enrichment in C-t TDP-43 fragments was observed in cortex and hippocampus. These results show that the composition of the inclusions in brain versus spinal cord tissues differ, with an increased representation of C-t TDP-43 fragments in cortical and hippocampal regions. Therefore, regionally different pathogenic processes may underlie the development of abnormal TDP-43 proteinopathies.

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