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Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Jan 1;21(1):136-49. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddr448. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

Arginine methylation by PRMT1 regulates nuclear-cytoplasmic localization and toxicity of FUS/TLS harbouring ALS-linked mutations.

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Department of Neurology/Neurosurgery and Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3A 2B4.


Mutations in FUS/TLS (fused in sarcoma/translated in liposarcoma) cause an inheritable form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS6). In contrast to FUS(WT), which is concentrated in the nucleus, these mutants are abnormally distributed in the cytoplasm where they form inclusions and associate with stress granules. The data reported herein demonstrate the importance of protein arginine methylation in nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling of FUS and abnormalities of ALS-causing mutants. Depletion of protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1; the enzyme that methylates FUS) in mouse embryonic fibroblasts by gene knockout, or in human HEK293 cells by siRNA knockdown, diminished the ability of ALS-linked FUS mutants to localize to the cytoplasm and form inclusions. To examine properties of FUS mutants in the context of neurons vulnerable to the disease, FUS(WT) and ALS-linked FUS mutants were expressed in motor neurons of dissociated murine spinal cord cultures. In motor neurons, shRNA-mediated PRMT1 knockdown concomitant with the expression of FUS actually accentuated the shift in distribution of ALS-linked FUS mutants from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. However, when PRMT1 was inhibited prior to expression of ALS-linked FUS mutants, by pretreatment with a global methyltransferase inhibitor, ALS-linked FUS mutants were sequestered in the nucleus and cytoplasmic inclusions were reduced, as in the cell lines. Mitochondria were significantly shorter in neurons with cytoplasmic ALS-linked FUS mutants, a factor that could contribute to toxicity. We propose that arginine methylation by PRMT1 participates in the nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling of FUS, particularly of ALS6-associated mutants, and thus contributes to the toxic gain of function conferred by these disease-causing mutations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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