Article

Molecular Determinants and Genetic Modifiers of Aggregation and Toxicity for the ALS Disease Protein FUS/TLS

University of California San Francisco/Howard Hughes Medical Institute, United States of America
PLoS Biology (Impact Factor: 9.34). 04/2011; 9(4):e1000614. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000614
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

TDP-43 and FUS are RNA-binding proteins that form cytoplasmic inclusions in some forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Moreover, mutations in TDP-43 and FUS are linked to ALS and FTLD. However, it is unknown whether TDP-43 and FUS aggregate and cause toxicity by similar mechanisms. Here, we exploit a yeast model and purified FUS to elucidate mechanisms of FUS aggregation and toxicity. Like TDP-43, FUS must aggregate in the cytoplasm and bind RNA to confer toxicity in yeast. These cytoplasmic FUS aggregates partition to stress granule compartments just as they do in ALS patients. Importantly, in isolation, FUS spontaneously forms pore-like oligomers and filamentous structures reminiscent of FUS inclusions in ALS patients. FUS aggregation and toxicity requires a prion-like domain, but unlike TDP-43, additional determinants within a RGG domain are critical for FUS aggregation and toxicity. In further distinction to TDP-43, ALS-linked FUS mutations do not promote aggregation. Finally, genome-wide screens uncovered stress granule assembly and RNA metabolism genes that modify FUS toxicity but not TDP-43 toxicity. Our findings suggest that TDP-43 and FUS, though similar RNA-binding proteins, aggregate and confer disease phenotypes via distinct mechanisms. These differences will likely have important therapeutic implications.

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    • "Several human proteins have prion-like N/Q-rich domains that have been directly linked to neurodegenerative diseases. Cytoplasmic aggregates of the RNAbinding protein FUS, which contains a Q-rich domain, are implicated in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and its aggregation has been re-capitulated in an induced S. cerevisiae proteinopathy[36]. Mutations in two yeastprion-like proteins hnRNPA2B1 and hnRNPA1 initiate neurodegenerative disease in humans through amyloid formation[37]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Prions are transmissible, propagating alternative states of proteins, and are usually made from the fibrillar, beta-sheet-rich assemblies termed amyloid. Prions in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae propagate heritable phenotypes, uncover hidden genetic variation, function in large-scale gene regulation, and can act like diseases. Almost all these amyloid prions have asparagine/glutamine-rich (N/Q–rich) domains. Other proteins, that we term here ‘prionogenic amyloid formers’ (PAFs), have been shown to form amyloid in vivo, and to have N/Q-rich domains that can propagate heritable states in yeast cells. Also, there are >200 other S.cerevisiae proteins with prion-like N/Q-rich sequence composition. Furthermore, human proteins with such N/Q-rich composition have been linked to the pathomechanisms of neurodegenerative amyloid diseases. Results Here, we exploit the increasing abundance of complete fungal genomes to examine the ancestry of prions/PAFs and other N/Q-rich proteins across the fungal kingdom. We find distinct evolutionary behavior for Q-rich and N-rich prions/PAFs; those of ancient ancestry (outside the budding yeasts, Saccharomycetes) are Q-rich, whereas N-rich cases arose early in Saccharomycetes evolution. This emergence of N-rich prion/PAFs is linked to a large-scale emergence of N-rich proteins during Saccharomycetes evolution, with Saccharomycetes showing a distinctive trend for population sizes of prion-like proteins that sets them apart from all the other fungi. Conversely, some clades, e.g. Eurotiales, have much fewer N/Q-rich proteins, and in some cases likely lose them en masse, perhaps due to greater amyloid intolerance, although they contain relatively more non-N/Q-rich predicted prions. We find that recent mutational tendencies arising during Saccharomycetes evolution (i.e., increased numbers of N residues and a tendency to form more poly-N tracts), contributed to the expansion/development of the prion phenomenon. Variation in these mutational tendencies in Saccharomycetes is correlated with the population sizes of prion-like proteins, thus implying that selection pressures on N/Q-rich protein sequences against amyloidogenesis are not generally maintained in budding yeasts. Conclusions These results help to delineate further the limits and origins of N/Q-rich prions, and provide insight as a case study of the evolution of compositionally-defined protein domains. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-016-0594-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2016 · BMC Evolutionary Biology
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    • "Repeated episodes of severe stress can induce the formation of wild-type TDP-43 aggregates in SGs (Parker et al., 2012), and mutant forms of FUS increase the size and number of SGs (Baron et al., 2013). Furthermore, expression of mutant stress granule components alters the formation of FUS aggregates in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Sun et al., 2011) and an inhibitor of stress granule formation reduces TDP- 43 cytotoxicity in Drosophila and mammalian neurons (Kim et al., 2014). These observations suggest that SGs might function in an early step of ALS progression by promoting the formation of insoluble protein aggregates. "
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Advances in Biological Regulation
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    • "Next, we confirmed that the full-length FUS protein forms a liquid phase-separated state as observed for FUS LC. Fulllength FUS (residues 1–526) is even more aggregation prone than the isolated LC domain (Sun et al., 2011) but is kept highly soluble by incorporation of an N-terminal fusion of maltose binding protein tag (MBP). Upon release of MBP by TEV cleavage leaving the native protein, samples as low as 1 mM full-length FUS assemble into an opalescent, phase-separated liquid (Figure 2B) resembling that formed by FUS LC. "
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    ABSTRACT: Phase-separated states of proteins underlie ribonucleoprotein (RNP) granules and nuclear RNA-binding protein assemblies that may nucleate protein inclusions associated with neurodegenerative diseases. We report that the N-terminal low-complexity domain of the RNA-binding protein Fused in Sarcoma (FUS LC) is structurally disordered and forms a liquid-like phase-separated state resembling RNP granules. This state directly binds the C-terminal domain of RNA polymerase II. Phase-separated FUS lacks static structures as probed by fluorescence microscopy, indicating they are distinct from both protein inclusions and hydrogels. We use solution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to directly probe the dynamic architecture within FUS liquid phase-separated assemblies. Importantly, we find that FUS LC retains disordered secondary structure even in the liquid phase-separated state. Therefore, we propose that disordered protein granules, even those made of aggregation-prone prion-like domains, are dynamic and disordered molecular assemblies with transiently formed protein-protein contacts.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Molecular cell
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