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J Biol Chem. 2002 Dec 6;277(49):47551-6. Epub 2002 Sep 27.

Oxidation-induced misfolding and aggregation of superoxide dismutase and its implications for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biophysics and Biochemistry, Ontario Cancer Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2M9, Canada.


The presence of intracellular aggregates that contain Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) in spinal cord motor neurons is a pathological hallmark of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Although SOD1 is abundant in all cells, its half-life in motor neurons far exceeds that in any other cell type. On the basis of the premise that the long half-life of the protein increases the potential for oxidative damage, we investigated the effects of oxidation on misfolding/aggregation of SOD1 and ALS-associated SOD1 mutants. Zinc-deficient wild-type SOD1 and SOD1 mutants were extremely prone to form visible aggregates upon oxidation as compared with wild-type holo-protein. Oxidation of select histidine residues that bind metals in the active site mediates SOD1 aggregation. Our results provide a plausible model to explain the accumulation of SOD1 aggregates in motor neurons affected in ALS.

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