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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e35050. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035050. Epub 2012 Apr 6.

Aberrant localization of FUS and TDP43 is associated with misfolding of SOD1 in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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Brain Research Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.



Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is incurable and characterized by progressive paralysis of the muscles of the limbs, speech and swallowing, and respiration due to the progressive degeneration of voluntary motor neurons. Clinically indistinguishable ALS can be caused by genetic mutations of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1), TAR-DNA binding protein 43 (TDP43), or fused in sarcoma/translocated in liposarcoma (FUS/TLS), or can occur in the absence of known mutation as sporadic disease. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that FUS/TLS and TDP43 gain new pathogenic functions upon aberrant accumulation in the cytosol that directly or indirectly include misfolding of SOD1.


Patient spinal cord necropsy immunohistochemistry with SOD1 misfolding-specific antibodies revealed misfolded SOD1 in perikarya and motor axons of SOD1-familial ALS (SOD1-FALS), and in motor axons of R521C-FUS FALS and sporadic ALS (SALS) with cytoplasmic TDP43 inclusions. SOD1 misfolding and oxidation was also detected using immunocytochemistry and quantitative immunoprecipitation of human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells as well as cultured murine spinal neural cells transgenic for human wtSOD1, which were transiently transfected with human cytosolic mutant FUS or TDP43, or wtTDP43.


We conclude that cytosolic mislocalization of FUS or TDP43 in vitro and ALS in vivo may kindle wtSOD1 misfolding in non-SOD1 FALS and SALS. The lack of immunohistochemical compartmental co-localization of misfolded SOD1 with cytosolic TDP43 or FUS suggests an indirect induction of SOD1 misfolding followed by propagation through template directed misfolding beyond its site of inception. The identification of a final common pathway in the molecular pathogenesis of ALS provides a treatment target for this devastating disease.

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