The tip of the iceberg: RNA-binding proteins with prion-like domains in neurodegenerative disease

Boston Biomedical Research Institute, 64 Grove St., Watertown, MA 02472, USA.
Brain research (Impact Factor: 2.83). 01/2012; 1462:61-80. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2012.01.016
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Prions are self-templating protein conformers that are naturally transmitted between individuals and promote phenotypic change. In yeast, prion-encoded phenotypes can be beneficial, neutral or deleterious depending upon genetic background and environmental conditions. A distinctive and portable 'prion domain' enriched in asparagine, glutamine, tyrosine and glycine residues unifies the majority of yeast prion proteins. Deletion of this domain precludes prionogenesis and appending this domain to reporter proteins can confer prionogenicity. An algorithm designed to detect prion domains has successfully identified 19 domains that can confer prion behavior. Scouring the human genome with this algorithm enriches a select group of RNA-binding proteins harboring a canonical RNA recognition motif (RRM) and a putative prion domain. Indeed, of 210 human RRM-bearing proteins, 29 have a putative prion domain, and 12 of these are in the top 60 prion candidates in the entire genome. Startlingly, these RNA-binding prion candidates are inexorably emerging, one by one, in the pathology and genetics of devastating neurodegenerative disorders, including: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U), Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease. For example, FUS and TDP-43, which rank 1st and 10th among RRM-bearing prion candidates, form cytoplasmic inclusions in the degenerating motor neurons of ALS patients and mutations in TDP-43 and FUS cause familial ALS. Recently, perturbed RNA-binding proteostasis of TAF15, which is the 2nd ranked RRM-bearing prion candidate, has been connected with ALS and FTLD-U. We strongly suspect that we have now merely reached the tip of the iceberg. We predict that additional RNA-binding prion candidates identified by our algorithm will soon surface as genetic modifiers or causes of diverse neurodegenerative conditions. Indeed, simple prion-like transfer mechanisms involving the prion domains of RNA-binding proteins could underlie the classical non-cell-autonomous emanation of neurodegenerative pathology from originating epicenters to neighboring portions of the nervous system. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled RNA-Binding Proteins.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: With several therapeutic approaches in development for Huntington's disease, there is a need for easily accessible biomarkers to monitor disease progression and therapy response. We performed next-generation sequencing-based transcriptome analysis of total RNA from peripheral blood of 91 mutation carriers (27 presymptomatic and, 64 symptomatic) and 33 controls. Transcriptome analysis by DeepSAGE identified 167 genes significantly associated with clinical total motor score in Huntington's disease patients. Relative to previous studies, this yielded novel genes and confirmed previously identified genes, such as H2AFY, an overlap in results that has proven difficult in the past. Pathway analysis showed enrichment of genes of the immune system and target genes of miRNAs, which are downregulated in Huntington's disease models. Using a highly parallelized microfluidics array chip (Fluidigm), we validated 12 of the top 20 significant genes in our discovery cohort and 7 in a second independent cohort. The five genes (PROK2, ZNF238, AQP9, CYSTM1 and ANXA3) that were validated independently in both cohorts present a candidate biomarker panel for stage determination and therapeutic readout in Huntington's disease. Finally we suggest a first empiric formula predicting total motor score from the expression levels of our biomarker panel. Our data support the view that peripheral blood is a useful source to identify biomarkers for Huntington's disease and monitor disease progression in future clinical trials.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 28 January 2015; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.281.
    European journal of human genetics: EJHG 01/2015; DOI:10.1038/ejhg.2014.281 · 3.56 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Propagation of pathological protein assemblies via a prion-like mechanism has been suggested to drive neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Recently, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-linked proteins, such as SOD1, TDP-43 and FUS were shown to follow self-perpetuating seeded aggregation, thereby adding ALS to the group of prion-like disorders. The cell-to-cell spread of these pathological protein assemblies and their pathogenic mechanism is poorly understood. However, as ALS is a non-cell autonomous disease and pathology in glial cells was shown to contribute to motor neuron damage, spreading mechanisms are likely to underlie disease progression via the interplay between affected neurons and their neighboring glial cells.
    Virus Research 02/2015; 8. DOI:10.1016/j.virusres.2014.12.032 · 2.83 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Typical amyloid diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's were thought to exclusively result from de novo aggregation, but recently it was shown that amyloids formed in one cell can cross-seed aggregation in other cells, following a prion-like mechanism. Despite the large experimental effort devoted to understanding the phenomenon of prion transmissibility, it is still poorly understood how this property is encoded in the primary sequence. In many cases, prion structural conversion is driven by the presence of relatively large glutamine/asparagine (Q/N) enriched segments. Several studies suggest that it is the amino acid composition of these regions rather than their specific sequence that accounts for their priogenicity. However, our analysis indicates that it is instead the presence and potency of specific short amyloid-prone sequences that occur within intrinsically disordered Q/N-rich regions that determine their prion behaviour, modulated by the structural and compositional context. This provides a basis for the accurate identification and evaluation of prion candidate sequences in proteomes in the context of a unified framework for amyloid formation and prion propagation.
    PLoS Computational Biology 01/2015; 11(1):e1004013. DOI:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004013 · 4.83 Impact Factor


1 Download
Available from