Calcium Channel Agonists Protect against Neuromuscular Dysfunction in a Genetic Model of TDP-43 Mutation in ALS
ABSTRACT TAR DNA binding protein (TDP-43, encoded by the TARDBP gene) has recently been shown to be associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but the early pathophysiological deficits causing impairment in motor function are unknown. Here we expressed the wild-type human gene (wtTARDBP) or the ALS mutation G348C (mutTARDBP) in zebrafish larvae and characterized their motor (swimming) activity and the structure and function of their neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). Of these groups only mutTARDBP larvae showed impaired swimming and increased motoneuron vulnerability with reduced synaptic fidelity, reduced quantal transmission, and more orphaned presynaptic and postsynaptic structures at the NMJ. Remarkably, all behavioral and cellular features were stabilized by chronic treatment with either of the L-type calcium channel agonists FPL 64176 or Bay K 8644. These results indicate that expression of mutTARDBP results in defective NMJs and that calcium channel agonists could be novel therapeutics for ALS.
- SourceAvailable from: Demetrio Raldúa[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Motor neuron diseases (MNDs) are an etiologically heterogeneous group of disorders of neurodegenerative origin, which result in degeneration of lower (LMNs) and/or upper motor neurons (UMNs). Neurodegenerative MNDs include pure hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), which involves specific degeneration of UMNs, leading to progressive spasticity of the lower limbs. In contrast, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) involves the specific degeneration of LMNs, with symmetrical muscle weakness and atrophy. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common adult-onset MND, is characterized by the degeneration of both UMNs and LMNs, leading to progressive muscle weakness, atrophy, and spasticity. A review of the comparative neuroanatomy of the human and zebrafish motor systems showed that, while the zebrafish was a homologous model for LMN disorders, such as SMA, it was only partially relevant in the case of UMN disorders, due to the absence of corticospinal and rubrospinal tracts in its central nervous system. Even considering the limitation of this model to fully reproduce the human UMN disorders, zebrafish offer an excellent alternative vertebrate model for the molecular and genetic dissection of MND mechanisms. Its advantages include the conservation of genome and physiological processes and applicable in vivo tools, including easy imaging, loss or gain of function methods, behavioral tests to examine changes in motor activity, and the ease of simultaneous chemical/drug testing on large numbers of animals. This facilitates the assessment of the environmental origin of MNDs, alone or in combination with genetic traits and putative modifier genes. Positive hits obtained by phenotype-based small-molecule screening using zebrafish may potentially be effective drugs for treatment of human MNDs.Progress in Neurobiology 04/2014; 118. DOI:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2014.03.001 · 10.30 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Mutations in the transactive response DNA binding protein-43 (TARDBP/TDP-43) gene, which regulates transcription and splicing, causes a familial form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here, we characterize and report the first tardbp mutation in zebrafish, which introduces a premature stop codon (Y220X), eliminating expression of the Tardbp protein. Another TARDBP ortholog, tardbpl, in zebrafish is shown to encode a Tardbp-like protein which is truncated compared with Tardbp itself and lacks part of the C-terminal glycine-rich domain (GRD). Here, we show that tardbp mutation leads to the generation of a novel tardbpl splice form (tardbpl-FL) capable of making a full-length Tardbp protein (Tardbpl-FL), which compensates for the loss of Tardbp. This finding provides a novel in vivo model to study TDP-43-mediated splicing regulation. Additionally, we show that elimination of both zebrafish TARDBP orthologs results in a severe motor phenotype with shortened motor axons, locomotion defects and death at around 10 days post fertilization. The Tardbp/Tardbpl knockout model generated in this study provides an excellent in vivo system to study the role of the functional loss of Tardbp and its involvement in ALS pathogenesis.Human Molecular Genetics 03/2013; 22(12). DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddt082 · 6.68 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) presents clinically in adulthood and is characterized by the loss of motoneurons in the spinal cord and cerebral cortex. Animal models of the disease suggest that significant neuronal abnormalities exist during preclinical stages of the disease. Mutations in the gene fused in sarcoma (FUS) are associated with ALS and cause impairment in motor function in animal models. However, the mechanism of neuromuscular dysfunction underling pathophysiological deficits causing impairment in locomotor function resulting from mutant FUS expression is unknown. To characterize the cellular pathophysiological defect, we expressed the wild type human gene (wtFUS) or the ALS-associated mutation R521H (mutFUS) gene in zebrafish larvae and characterized their motor (swimming) activity and function of their neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). Additionally, we tested knockdown of zebrafish fus with an antisense morpholino oligonucleotide (fus AMO). Expression of either mutFUS or knockdown of fus resulted in impaired motor activity and reduced NMJ synaptic fidelity with reduced quantal transmission. Primary motoneurons expressing mutFUS were found to be more excitable. These impairments in neuronal function could be partially restored in fus AMO larvae also expressing wtFUS (fus AMO+wtFUS) but not mutFUS (fus AMO+mutFUS). These results show that both a loss and gain of FUS function result in defective presynaptic function at the NMJ.Human Molecular Genetics 06/2013; 22(21). DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddt278 · 6.68 Impact Factor