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ACS Nano. 2017 Jul 25;11(7):7189-7200. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.7b03071. Epub 2017 Jul 5.

Nanoscale Analysis Reveals the Maturation of Neurodegeneration-Associated Protein Aggregates: Grown in mRNA Granules then Released by Stress Granule Proteins.

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SABNP, Univ Evry, INSERM U1204, Université Paris-Saclay , 91025 Evry, France.
Institute of Protein Research, Russian Academy of Sciences , Pushchino, Moscow Region 142290, Russia.


TDP-43 and FUS are two mRNA-binding proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases that form cytoplasmic inclusions with prion-like properties in affected neurons. Documenting the early stages of the formation of TDP-43 or FUS protein aggregates and the role of mRNA stress granules that are considered as critical intermediates for protein aggregation is therefore of interest to understand disease propagation. Here, we developed a single molecule approach via atomic force microscopy (AFM), which provides structural information out of reach by fluorescence microscopy. In addition, the aggregation process can be probed in the test tube without separating the interacting partners, which would affect the thermodynamic equilibrium. The results demonstrate that isolated mRNA molecules serve as crucibles to promote TDP-43 and FUS multimerization. Their subsequent merging results in the formation of mRNA granules containing TDP-43 and FUS aggregates. Interestingly, TDP-43 or FUS protein aggregates can be released from mRNA granules by either YB-1 or G3BP1, two stress granule proteins that compete for the binding to mRNA with TDP-43 and FUS. Altogether, the results indicate that age-related successive assembly/disassembly of stress granules in neurons, regulated by mRNA-binding proteins such as YB-1 and G3BP1, could be a source of protein aggregation.


RNA−protein interactions; RNP nanostructures; atomic force microscopy; protein aggregation; stress granules


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