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.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a late-onset neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the loss of motor neurons. Fused in sarcoma/translated in liposarcoma (FUS/TLS) and TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP)-43 are DNA/RNA-binding proteins found to be mutated in sporadic and familial forms of ALS. Ectopic expression of human ALS-causing FUS/TLS mutations in Drosophila caused an accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins, neurodegeneration, larval-crawling defect and early lethality. Mutant FUS/TLS localized to both the cytoplasm and nucleus, whereas wild-type FUS/TLS localized only to the nucleus, suggesting that the cytoplasmic localization of FUS/TLS is required for toxicity. Furthermore, we found that deletion of the nuclear export signal strongly suppressed toxicity, suggesting that cytoplasmic localization is necessary for neurodegeneration. Interestingly, we observed that FUS/TLS genetically interacts with TDP-43 in a mutation-dependent fashion to cause neurodegeneration in vivo. In summary, we demonstrate that ALS-associated mutations in FUS/TLS cause adult-onset neurodegeneration via a gain-of-toxicity mechanism that involves redistribution of the protein from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and is likely to involve an interaction with TDP-43.
Biosynthesis of hypochlorous acid, a potent antimicrobial oxidant, in phagosomes is one of the chief mechanisms employed by polymorphonuclear neutrophils to combat infections. This reaction, catalyzed by myeloperoxidase, requires chloride anion (Cl(-)) as a substrate. Thus, Cl(-) availability is a rate-limiting factor that affects neutrophil microbicidal function. Our previous research demonstrated that defective CFTR, a cAMP-activated chloride channel, present in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients leads to deficient chloride transport to neutrophil phagosomes and impaired bacterial killing. To confirm this finding, here we used RNA interference against this chloride channel to abate CFTR expression in the neutrophil-like cells derived from HL60 cells, a promyelocytic leukemia cell line, with dimethyl sulfoxide. The resultant CFTR deficiency in the phagocytes compromised their bactericidal capability, thereby recapitulating the phenotype seen in CF patient cells. The results provide further evidence suggesting that CFTR plays an important role in phagocytic host defense.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an uncommon neurodegenerative disease caused by degeneration of upper and lower motor neurons. Several genes, including SOD1, TDP-43, FUS, Ubiquilin 2, C9orf72 and Profilin 1, have been linked with the sporadic and familiar forms of ALS. FUS is a DNA/RNA-binding protein (RBP) that forms cytoplasmic inclusions in ALS and frontotemporal lobular degeneration (FTLD) patients brains and spinal cords. However, it is unknown whether the RNA-binding ability of FUS is required for causing ALS pathogenesis. Here, we exploited a Drosophila model of ALS and neuronal cell lines to elucidate the role of the RNA-binding ability of FUS in regulating FUS-mediated toxicity, cytoplasmic mislocalization and incorporation into stress granules (SGs). To determine the role of the RNA-binding ability of FUS in ALS, we mutated FUS RNA-binding sites (F305L, F341L, F359L, F368L) and generated RNA-binding-incompetent FUS mutants with and without ALS-causing mutations (R518K or R521C). We found that mutating the aforementioned four phenylalanine (F) amino acids to leucines (L) (4F-L) eliminates FUS RNA binding. We observed that these RNA-binding mutations block neurodegenerative phenotypes seen in the fly brains, eyes and motor neurons compared with the expression of RNA-binding-competent FUS carrying ALS-causing mutations. Interestingly, RNA-binding-deficient FUS strongly localized to the nucleus of Drosophila motor neurons and mammalian neuronal cells, whereas FUS carrying ALS-linked mutations was distributed to the nucleus and cytoplasm. Importantly, we determined that incorporation of mutant FUS into the SG compartment is dependent on the RNA-binding ability of FUS. In summary, we demonstrate that the RNA-binding ability of FUS is essential for the neurodegenerative phenotype in vivo of mutant FUS (either through direct contact with RNA or through interactions with other RBPs).
The recent identification of ALS-linked mutations in FUS and TDP-43 has led to a major shift in our thinking in regard to the potential molecular mechanisms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). RNA-mediated proteinopathy is increasingly being recognized as a potential cause of neurodegenerative disorders. FUS and TDP-43 are structurally and functionally similar proteins. FUS is a DNA/RNA binding protein that may regulate aspects of RNA metabolism, including splicing, mRNA processing, and micro RNA biogenesis. It is unclear how ALS-linked mutations perturb the functions of FUS. This review highlights recent advances in understanding the functions of FUS and discusses findings from FUS animal models that provide several key insights into understanding the molecular mechanisms that might contribute to ALS pathogenesis.
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