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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Sep 14;107(37):16325-30. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1003459107. Epub 2010 Aug 24.

Altered distributions of Gemini of coiled bodies and mitochondria in motor neurons of TDP-43 transgenic mice.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Division of Neuropathology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205-2196, USA.


TAR DNA-binding protein-43 (TDP-43), a DNA/RNA-binding protein involved in RNA transcription and splicing, has been associated with the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS. However, the function of TDP-43 in motor neurons remains undefined. Here we use both gain- and loss-of-function approaches to determine roles of TDP-43 in motor neurons. Mice expressing human TDP-43 in neurons exhibited growth retardation and premature death that are characterized by abnormal intranuclear inclusions composed of TDP-43 and fused in sarcoma/translocated in liposarcoma (FUS/TLS), and massive accumulation of mitochondria in TDP-43-negative cytoplasmic inclusions in motor neurons, lack of mitochondria in motor axon terminals, and immature neuromuscular junctions. Whereas an elevated level of TDP-43 disrupts the normal nuclear distribution of survival motor neuron (SMN)-associated Gemini of coiled bodies (GEMs) in motor neurons, its absence prevents the formation of GEMs in the nuclei of these cells. Moreover, transcriptome-wide deep sequencing analysis revealed that a decrease in abundance of neurofilament transcripts contributed to the reduction of caliber of motor axons in TDP-43 mice. In concert, our findings indicate that TDP-43 participates in pathways critical for motor neuron physiology, including those that regulate the normal distributions of SMN-associated GEMs in the nucleus and mitochondria in the cytoplasm.

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