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: 2.84). 01/2012; 1462:61-80. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2012.01.016
Source: PubMed


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.

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Available from: James Shorter, Oct 11, 2015
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    • "TDP-43 and FUS share many structural similarities (Figure 3) and both are involved in various aspects of mRNA metabolism including splicing, nucleocytoplasmic shuttling, transcription, mRNA stability, and SG dynamics (Lagier-Tourenne et al., 2010). Specifically, they both have prion-like domains (Cushman et al., 2010; King et al., 2012; Li et al., 2013), and the combination of a prionlike domain and a RRM has recently been used to predict genetic modifiers or causes of several neurodegenerative diseases (King et al., 2012). Thus, it has been proposed that these two proteins may participate in a common pathogenic mechanism. "
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    ABSTRACT: Stress granules (SGs) are RNA-containing cytoplasmic foci formed in response to stress exposure. Since their discovery in 1999, over 120 proteins have been described to be localized to these structures (in 154 publications). Most of these components are RNA binding proteins (RBPs) or are involved in RNA metabolism and translation. SGs have been linked to several pathologies including inflammatory diseases, cancer, viral infection, and neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). In ALS and FTD, the majority of cases have no known etiology and exposure to external stress is frequently proposed as a contributor to either disease initiation or the rate of disease progression. Of note, both ALS and FTD are characterized by pathological inclusions, where some well-known SG markers localize with the ALS related proteins TDP-43 and FUS. We propose that TDP-43 and FUS serve as an interface between genetic susceptibility and environmental stress exposure in disease pathogenesis. Here, we will discuss the role of TDP-43 and FUS in SG dynamics and how disease-linked mutations affect this process.
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    • "RNPs can also polymerize into solid structures. Defects or polyglutamine (polyQ) expansions in some RNA regulators can induce large solid aggregates, which are common in central nervous system (CNS) diseases (King et al., 2012; Ramaswami et al., 2013). In the normal CNS, prion-like (solid) RNP polymers may contribute to long-term potentiation (Si et al., 2010; Heinrich and Lindquist, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) often coassemble into supramolecular bodies with regulated dynamics. The factors controlling RNP bodies and connections to RNA regulation are unclear. During Caenorhabditis elegans oogenesis, cytoplasmic RNPs can transition among diffuse, liquid, and solid states linked to mRNA regulation. Loss of CGH-1/Ddx6 RNA helicase generates solid granules that are sensitive to mRNA regulators. Here, we identified 66 modifiers of RNP solids induced by cgh-1 mutation. A majority of genes promote or suppress normal RNP body assembly, dynamics, or metabolism. Surprisingly, polyadenylation factors promote RNP coassembly in vivo, suggesting new functions of poly(A) tail regulation in RNP dynamics. Many genes carry polyglutatmine (polyQ) motifs or modulate polyQ aggregation, indicating possible connections with neurodegenerative disorders induced by CAG/polyQ expansion. Several RNP body regulators repress translation of mRNA subsets, suggesting that mRNAs are repressed by multiple mechanisms. Collectively, these findings suggest new pathways of RNP modification that control large-scale coassembly and mRNA activity during development.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2015 · The Journal of Cell Biology
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    • "Although these aggregates are distinct from normal SGs in that they are not reversible (Bentmann et al., 2013), it has been suggested that SGs may play a role in forming the inclusions by sequestering mutant TDP-43 or FUS and 'seeding' the initial aggregation step (King et al., 2012; Parker et al., 2012). Reports differ on whether stress granule markers colocalize with neuronal inclusions (Colombrita et al., 2009; Dormann et al., 2010; Liu-Yesucevitz et al., 2010); however, several lines of evidence support the hypothesis. "
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    ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a lethal late onset motor neuron disease with underlying cellular defects in RNA metabolism. In prior studies, two deleterious heterozygous mutations in the gene encoding human (h)Gle1 were identified in ALS patients. hGle1 is an mRNA processing modulator that requires inositol hexakisphosphate (IP6) binding for function. Interestingly, one hGLE1 mutation (c.1965-2A>C) results in a novel 88 amino acid C-terminal insertion, generating an altered protein. Like hGle1A, at steady state, the altered protein termed hGle1-IVS14-2A>C is absent from the nuclear envelope rim and localizes to the cytoplasm. hGle1A performs essential cytoplasmic functions in translation and stress granule regulation. Therefore, we speculated that the ALS disease pathology results from altered cellular pools of hGle1 and increased cytoplasmic hGle1 activity. GFP-hGle1-IVS14-2A>C localized to stress granules comparably to GFP-hGle1A, and rescued stress granule defects following siRNA-mediated hGle1 depletion. As described for hGle1A, overexpression of the hGle1-IVS14-2A>C protein also induced formation of larger SGs. Interestingly, hGle1A and the disease associated hGle1-IVS14-2A>C overexpression induced the formation of distinct cytoplasmic protein aggregates that appear similar to those found in neurodegenerative diseases. Strikingly, the ALS-linked hGle1-IVS14-2A>C protein also rescued mRNA export defects upon depletion of endogenous hGle1, acting in a potentially novel bi-functional manner. We conclude that the ALS-linked hGle1-c.1965-2A>C mutation generates a protein isoform capable of both hGle1A- and hGle1B-ascribed functions, and thereby uncoupled from normal mechanisms of hGle1 regulation.
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