[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease caused by the death of motor neurons. While the exact molecular and cellular basis for motor neuron death is not yet fully understood, the current conceptualization is that multiple aberrant biological processes contribute. Among these, one of the most compelling is based on alterations of RNA metabolism. In this review, we examine how the normal process of cellular response to stress leading to RNA stress granule formation might become pathological, resulting in the formation of stable protein aggregates. We discuss the emerging roles of post-translational modifications of RNA binding proteins in the genesis of these aggregates. We also review the contemporary literature regarding the potential role for more widespread alterations in RNA metabolism in ALS, including alterations in miRNA biogenesis, spliceosome integrity and RNA editing. A hypothesis is presented in which aberrant RNA processing, modulated through pathological stress granule formation as a reflection of either mutations within intrinsically disordered or prion-like domains of critical RNA binding proteins, or the post-translational modification of RNA binding proteins, contributes directly to motor neuron death.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal disease characterized by progressive motor neuron degeneration and neurofilament aggregate formation. Spinal motor neurons in ALS also show a selective suppression in the levels of low molecular weight neurofilament (NEFL) mRNA. We have been interested in investigating the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in NEFL transcript stability. MiRNAs are small, 20-25 nucleotide, non-coding RNAs that act as post-transcriptional gene regulators by targeting the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) of mRNA resulting in mRNA decay or translational silencing. In this study, we characterized putative novel miRNAs from a small RNA library derived from control and sporadic ALS (sALS) spinal cords. We detected 80 putative novel miRNAs, 24 of which have miRNA response elements (MREs) within the NEFL mRNA 3'UTR. From this group, we determined by real-time PCR that 10 miRNAs were differentially expressed in sALS compared to controls. Functional analysis by reporter gene assay and relative quantitative RT-PCR showed that two novel miRNAs, miR-b1336 and miR-b2403, were downregulated in ALS spinal cord and that both stabilize NEFL mRNA. We confirmed the direct effect of these latter miRNAs using anit-miR-b1336 and anti-miR-b2403. These results demonstrate that the expression of two miRNAs (miRNAs miR-b1336 and miR-b2403) whose effect is to stabilize NEFL mRNA are down regulated in ALS, the net effect of which is predicted to contribute directly to the loss of NEFL steady state mRNA which is pathognomic of spinal motor neurons in ALS.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e85653. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, adult onset, fatal neurodegenerative disease of motor neurons. There is emerging evidence that alterations in RNA metabolism may be critical in the pathogenesis of ALS. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that are key determinants of mRNA stability. Considering that miRNAs are increasingly being recognized as having a role in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, we decided to characterize the miRNA expression profile in spinal cord (SC) tissue in sporadic ALS (sALS) and controls. Furthermore, we performed functional analysis to identify a group of dysregulated miRNAs that could be responsible for the selective suppression of low molecular weight neurofilament (NFL) mRNA observed in ALS. RESULTS: Using TaqMan arrays we analyzed 664 miRNAs and found that a large number of miRNAs are differentially expressed in ventral lumbar SC in sALS compared to controls. We observed that the majority of dysregulated miRNAs are down-regulated in sALS SC tissues. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) showed that dysregulated miRNAs are linked with nervous system function and cell death. We used two prediction algorithms to develop a panel of miRNAs that have recognition elements within the human NFL mRNA 3[prime]UTR, and then we performed functional analysis for these miRNAs. Our results demonstrate that three miRNAs that are dysregulated in sALS (miR-146a*, miR-524-5p and miR-582-3p) are capable of interacting with NFL mRNA 3[prime]UTR in a manner that is consistent with the suppressed steady state mRNA levels observed in spinal motor neurons in ALS. CONCLUSIONS: The miRNA expression profile is broadly altered in the SC in sALS. Amongst these is a group of dysregulated miRNAs directly regulate the NFL mRNA 3[prime]UTR, suggesting a role in the selective suppression of NFL mRNA in the ALS spinal motor neuron neurofilamentous aggregate formation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor (RGNEF) is a novel NFL mRNA destabilizing factor that forms neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions in spinal motor neurons in both sporadic (SALS) and familial (FALS) ALS patients. Given the observation of genetic mutations in a number of mRNA binding proteins associated with ALS, including TDP-43, FUS/TLS and mtSOD1, we analysed the ARHGEF28 gene (approx. 316 kb) that encodes for RGNEF in FALS cases to determine if mutations were present. We performed genomic sequencing, copy number variation analysis using TaqMan real-time PCR and spinal motor neuron immunohistochemistry using a novel RGNEF antibody. In this limited sample of FALS cases (n=7) we identified a heterozygous mutation that is predicted to generate a premature truncated gene product. We also observed extensive regions of homozygosity in the ARHGEF28 gene in two FALS patients. In conclusion, our findings of genetic alterations in the ARHGEF28 gene in cases of FALS suggest that a more comprehensive genetic analysis would be warranted.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal degeneration. 01/2013;
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Nur transcription factors Nur77 (NGFI-B, NR4A1), Nurr1 (NR4A2), and Nor-1 (NR4A3) are a sub-family of orphan members of the nuclear receptor superfamily. These transcription factors are products of immediate early genes, whose expression is rapidly and transiently induced in the central nervous system by several types of stimuli. Nur factors are present throughout the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis where are prominently induced in response to stress. Drugs of abuse and stress also induce the expression of Nur factors in nuclei of the motivation/reward circuit of the brain, indicating their participation in the process of drug addiction and in non-hypothalamic responses to stress. Repeated use of addictive drugs and chronic stress induce long-lasting dysregulation of the brain motivation/reward circuit due to reprogramming of gene expression and enduring alterations in neuronal function. Here, we review the data supporting that Nur transcription factors are key players in the molecular basis of the dysregulation of neuronal circuits involved in chronic stress and addiction.
Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 01/2013; 6:44.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult-onset progressive disorder of unknown etiology characterized by the selective degeneration of motor neurons. Recent evidence supports the hypothesis that alterations in RNA metabolism in motor neurons can explain the development of protein inclusions, including neurofilamentous aggregates, observed in this pathology. In mice, p190RhoGEF, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor, is involved in neurofilament protein aggregation in an RNA-triggered transgenic model of motor neuron disease. Here, we observed that rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor (RGNEF), the human homologue of p190RhoGEF, binds low molecular weight neurofilament mRNA and affects its stability via 3' untranslated region destabilization. We observed that the overexpression of RGNEF in a stable cell line significantly decreased the level of low molecular weight neurofilament protein. Furthermore, we observed RGNEF cytoplasmic inclusions in ALS spinal motor neurons that colocalized with ubiquitin, p62/sequestosome-1, and TAR (trans-active regulatory) DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43). Our results provide further evidence that RNA metabolism pathways are integral to ALS pathology. This is also the first described link between ALS and an RNA binding protein with aggregate formation that is also a central cell signaling pathway molecule.
Neurobiology of aging 07/2012; · 5.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The transcription factor Nur77 has been identified as a neuronal activation marker of stressful stimuli in the central nervous system. Nur77 plays a key role at all levels of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis during the stress response. However, the participation of Nur77 in extra-hypothalamic responses to stress is unknown. In this study, we studied the impact of acute and repeated immobilization stress on Nur77 expression in the bed nucleus of stria terminalis (BNST), a region involved in autonomic, neuroendocrine, and behavioral responses to stress. After a single session of immobilization stress we observed a significant increase of Nur77-like immunoreactivity in the BNST. This effect is not lost with repeated exposure to stress, since Nur77-like immunoreactivity and Nur77 mRNA in BNST were increased after the fifteenth stress session. The administration of desipramine, a specific inhibitor of noradrenaline reuptake, prevented the increase in Nur77-like immunoreactivity and mRNA induced by stress in rats subjected to repeated exposure to immobilization stress. Our results show that acute and repeated stress modulates Nur77 expression in BNST and suggest that Nur77 participates in extra-hypothalamic responses to stress.
Neurotoxicity Research 03/2011; 20(3):289-300. · 2.87 Impact Factor