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J Biomol Screen. 2011 Oct;16(9):974-85. doi: 10.1177/1087057111418505. Epub 2011 Aug 29.

A screen to identify cellular modulators of soluble levels of an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-causing mutant SOD1.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA.


The molecular pathology of many protein misfolding, toxic gain-of-function diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is not well understood. Although protein misfolding and aggregation are common themes in these diseases, efforts to identify cellular factors that regulate this process in an unbiased fashion and on a global scale have been lacking. Using an adapted version of an extant β-gal-based protein solubility assay, an expression screen for cellular modulators of solubility of an ALS-causing mutant SOD1 was carried out in mammalian cells. Following fluorescence-activated cell sorting enrichment of a mouse spinal cord cDNA library for gene products that increased SOD1 solubility, high-throughput screening of the cDNA pools from this enriched fraction was employed to identify pools containing relevant modulators. Positive pools, containing approximately 10 cDNA clones each, were diluted and rescreened iteratively until individual clones that improved SOD1 folding/solubility were identified. Genes with profound effects in the solubility assay were selected for validation by independent biochemical assays. Six of 10 validated genes had a significant effect on SOD1 solubility and folding in a SOD1 promoter-driven β-gal assay, indicating that global screening of cellular targets using such protein solubility/folding assay is viable and can be adapted for other misfolding diseases.

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