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J Biol Chem. 2010 Apr 9;285(15):11068-72. doi: 10.1074/jbc.C109.078527. Epub 2010 Feb 12.

Ubiquilin modifies TDP-43 toxicity in a Drosophila model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


TDP-43 (43-kDa TAR DNA-binding protein) is a major constituent of ubiquitin-positive cytosolic aggregates present in neurons of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and ubiquitin-positive fronto-temporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-U). Inherited mutations in TDP-43 have been linked to familial forms of ALS, indicating a key role for TDP-43 in disease pathogenesis. Here, we describe a Drosophila melanogaster model of TDP-43 proteinopathy. Expression of wild-type human TDP-43 protein in Drosophila motor neurons led to motor dysfunction and dramatic reduction of life span. Interestingly, coexpression of ubiquilin 1, a previously identified TDP-43-interacting protein with suspected functions in autophagy and proteasome targeting, reduced steady-state TDP-43 expression but enhanced the severity of TDP-43 phenotypes. Finally, ectopically expressed TDP-43 was largely localized to motor neuron nuclei, suggesting that expression of wild-type TDP-43 alone is detrimental even in the absence of cytosolic aggregation. Our findings demonstrate that TDP-43 exerts cell-autonomous neurotoxicity in Drosophila and further imply that dose-dependent alterations of TDP-43 nuclear function may underlie motor neuron death in ALS.

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