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J Neurochem. 1995 May;64(5):2366-9.

Superoxide dismutase concentration and activity in familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neurochemistry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA.


Some cases of autosomal-dominant familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) have been associated with mutations in SOD1, the gene that encodes Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (Cu/Zn SOD). We determined the concentrations (microgram of Cu/Zn SOD/mg of total protein), specific activities (U/microgram of total protein), and apparent turnover numbers (U/mumol of Cu/Zn SOD) of Cu/Zn SOD in erythrocyte lysates from patients with known SOD1 mutations. We also measured the concentrations and activities of Cu/Zn SOD in FALS patients with no identifiable SOD1 mutations, sporadic ALS (SALS) patients, and patients with other neurologic disorders. The concentration and specific activity of Cu/Zn SOD were decreased in all patients with SOD1 mutations, with mean reductions of 51 and 46%, respectively, relative to controls. In contrast, the apparent turnover number of the enzyme was not altered in these patients. For the six mutations studied, there was no correlation between enzyme concentration or specific activity and disease severity, expressed as either duration of disease or age of onset. No significant alterations in the concentration, specific activity, or apparent turnover number of Cu/Zn SOD were detected in the FALS patients with no identifiable SOD1 mutations, SALS patients, or patients with other neurologic disorders. That Cu/Zn SOD concentration and specific activity are equivalently reduced in erythrocytes from patients with SOD1 mutations suggests that mutant Cu/Zn SOD is unstable in these cells. That concentration and specific activity do not correlate with disease severity suggests that an altered, novel function of the enzyme, rather than reduction of its dismutase activity, may be responsible for the pathogenesis of FALS.

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