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J Biol Chem. 2009 Jul 24;284(30):20329-39. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.010264. Epub 2009 May 22.

TDP-43 is intrinsically aggregation-prone, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-linked mutations accelerate aggregation and increase toxicity.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Biol Chem. 2009 Sep 11;284(37):25459.


Non-amyloid, ubiquitinated cytoplasmic inclusions containing TDP-43 and its C-terminal fragments are pathological hallmarks of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal motor neuron disorder, and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U). Importantly, TDP-43 mutations are linked to sporadic and non-SOD1 familial ALS. However, TDP-43 is not the only protein in disease-associated inclusions, and whether TDP-43 misfolds or is merely sequestered by other aggregated components is unclear. Here, we report that, in the absence of other components, TDP-43 spontaneously forms aggregates bearing remarkable ultrastructural similarities to TDP-43 deposits in degenerating neurons of ALS and FTLD-U patients [corrected] . The C-terminal domain of TDP-43 is critical for spontaneous aggregation. Several ALS-linked TDP-43 mutations within this domain (Q331K, M337V, Q343R, N345K, R361S, and N390D) increase the number of TDP-43 aggregates and promote toxicity in vivo. Importantly, mutations that promote toxicity in vivo accelerate aggregation of pure TDP-43 in vitro. Thus, TDP-43 is intrinsically aggregation-prone, and its propensity for toxic misfolding trajectories is accentuated by specific ALS-linked mutations.

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