Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by selective loss of upper and lower motor neurons and skeletal muscle atrophy. Epidemiologic and experimental evidence suggest the involvement of androgens in ALS pathogenesis, but the mechanism through which androgens modify the ALS phenotype is unknown. Here, we show that androgen ablation by surgical castration extends survival and disease duration of a transgenic mouse model of ALS expressing mutant human SOD1 (hSOD1-G93A). Furthermore, long-term treatment of orchiectomized hSOD1-G93A mice with nandrolone decanoate (ND), an anabolic androgenic steroid, worsened disease manifestations. ND treatment induced muscle fiber hypertrophy but caused motor neuron death. ND negatively affected survival, thereby dissociating skeletal muscle pathology from life span in this ALS mouse model. Interestingly, orchiectomy decreased androgen receptor levels in the spinal cord and muscle, whereas ND treatment had the opposite effect. Notably, stimulation with ND promoted the recruitment of endogenous androgen receptor into biochemical complexes that were insoluble in sodium dodecyl sulfate, a finding consistent with protein aggregation. Overall, our results shed light on the role of androgens as modifiers of ALS pathogenesis via dysregulation of androgen receptor homeostasis.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a late onset and progressive motor neuron disease. Mutations in the gene coding for fused in sarcoma/translocated in liposarcoma (FUS) are responsible for some cases of both familial and sporadic forms of ALS. The mechanism through which mutations of FUS result in motor neuron degeneration and loss is not known. FUS belongs to the family of TET proteins, which are regulated at the post-translational level by arginine methylation. Here, we investigated the impact of arginine methylation in the pathogenesis of FUS-related ALS. We found that wild type FUS (FUS-WT) specifically interacts with protein arginine methyltransferases 1 and 8 (PRMT1 and PRMT8) and undergoes asymmetric dimethylation in cultured cells. ALS-causing FUS mutants retained the ability to interact with both PRMT1 and PRMT8 and undergo asymmetric dimethylation similar to FUS-WT. Importantly, PRMT1 and PRMT8 localized to mutant FUS-positive inclusion bodies. Pharmacologic inhibition of PRMT1 and PRMT8 activity reduced both the nuclear and cytoplasmic accumulation of FUS-WT and ALS-associated FUS mutants in motor neuron-derived cells and in cells obtained from an ALS patient carrying the R518G mutation. Genetic ablation of the fly homologue of human PRMT1 (DART1) exacerbated the neurodegeneration induced by overexpression of FUS-WT and R521H FUS mutant in a Drosophila model of FUS-related ALS. These results support a role for arginine methylation in the pathogenesis of FUS-related ALS.
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