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Acta Neuropathol. 2019 Jul;138(1):85-101. doi: 10.1007/s00401-019-01986-1. Epub 2019 Mar 12.

The molecular pathogenesis of superoxide dismutase 1-linked ALS is promoted by low oxygen tension.

Author information

1
Department of Medical Biosciences, Pathology, Umeå University, 90185, Umeå, Sweden.
2
Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Neuroscience, Umeå University, 90187, Umeå, Sweden.
3
Department of Neurology, Hospital for Special Surgery and Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY, 10021, USA.
4
Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.
5
German Research Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), 72076, Tübingen, Germany.
6
Department of Medical Biosciences, Clinical Chemistry, Umeå University, 90185, Umeå, Sweden.
7
Department of Medical Biosciences, Clinical Chemistry, Umeå University, 90185, Umeå, Sweden. stefan.marklund@umu.se.
8
Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Neuroscience, Umeå University, 90187, Umeå, Sweden. jonathan.gilthorpe@umu.se.

Abstract

Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Disease pathogenesis is linked to destabilization, disorder and aggregation of the SOD1 protein. However, the non-genetic factors that promote disorder and the subsequent aggregation of SOD1 have not been studied. Mainly located to the reducing cytosol, mature SOD1 contains an oxidized disulfide bond that is important for its stability. Since O2 is required for formation of the bond, we reasoned that low O2 tension might be a risk factor for the pathological changes associated with ALS development. By combining biochemical approaches in an extensive range of genetically distinct patient-derived cell lines, we show that the disulfide bond is an Achilles heel of the SOD1 protein. Culture of patient-derived fibroblasts, astrocytes, and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived mixed motor neuron and astrocyte cultures (MNACs) under low O2 tensions caused reductive bond cleavage and increases in disordered SOD1. The effects were greatest in cells derived from patients carrying ALS-linked mutations in SOD1. However, significant increases also occurred in wild-type SOD1 in cultures derived from non-disease controls, and patients carrying mutations in other common ALS-linked genes. Compared to fibroblasts, MNACs showed far greater increases in SOD1 disorder and even aggregation of mutant SOD1s, in line with the vulnerability of the motor system to SOD1-mediated neurotoxicity. Our results show for the first time that O2 tension is a principal determinant of SOD1 stability in human patient-derived cells. Furthermore, we provide a mechanism by which non-genetic risk factors for ALS, such as aging and other conditions causing reduced vascular perfusion, could promote disease initiation and progression.

KEYWORDS:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); Disulfide bond; Oxygen tension; Patient-derived cells; Protein aggregation; Protein disorder; Superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1)

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