Complete Dissociation of Motor Neuron Death from Motor Dysfunction by Bax Deletion in a Mouse Model of ALS

ArticleinThe Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 26(34):8774-86 · September 2006with11 Reads
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2315-06.2006 · Source: PubMed
The death of cranial and spinal motoneurons (MNs) is believed to be an essential component of the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We tested this hypothesis by crossing Bax-deficient mice with mice expressing mutant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), a transgenic model of familial ALS. Although Bax deletion failed to prevent neuromuscular denervation and mitochondrial vacuolization, MNs were completely rescued from mutant SOD1-mediated death. However, Bax deficiency extended lifespan and delayed the onset of motor dysfunction of SOD1 mutants, suggesting that Bax acts via a mechanism distinct from cell death activation. Consistent with this idea, Bax elimination delayed the onset of neuromuscular denervation, which began long before the activation of cell death proteins in SOD1 mutants. Additionally, we show that denervation preceded accumulation of mutant SOD1 within MNs and astrogliosis in the spinal cord, which are also both delayed in Bax-deficient SOD1 mutants. Interestingly, MNs exhibited mitochondrial abnormalities at the innervated neuromuscular junction at the onset of neuromuscular denervation. Additionally, both MN presynaptic terminals and terminal Schwann cells expressed high levels of mutant SOD1 before MNs withdrew their axons. Together, these data support the idea that clinical symptoms in the SOD1 G93A model of ALS result specifically from damage to the distal motor axon and not from activation of the death pathway, and cast doubt on the utility of anti-apoptotic therapies to combat ALS. Furthermore, they suggest a novel, cell death-independent role for Bax in facilitating mutant SOD1-mediated motor denervation.
    • "It is notable that in the terminal stage the loss was greater in the double mutant mice than in the hSOD1 G127X mice. It has been found that paralysis can be caused by both loss of motor neurons and dysfunction of remaining motor neurons [20]. Perhaps the latter mechanism played a proportionally greater role in the hSOD1 G127X mice. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The motor system is selectively vulnerable to mutations in the ubiquitously expressed aggregation-prone enzyme superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1). Autophagy clears aggregates, and factors involved in the process were analyzed in multiple areas of the CNS from human control subjects (n = 10) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients (n = 18) with or without SOD1 mutations. In control subjects, the key regulatory protein Beclin 1 and downstream factors were remarkably scarce in spinal motor areas. In ALS patients, there was evidence of moderate autophagy activation and also dysregulation. These changes were largest in SOD1 mutation carriers. To explore consequences of low autophagy capacity, effects of a heterozygous deletion of Beclin 1 were examined in ALS mouse models expressing mutant SOD1s. This caused earlier SOD1 aggregation, onset of symptoms, motor neuron loss, and a markedly shortened survival. In contrast, the levels of soluble misfolded SOD1 species were reduced. The findings suggest that an inherent low autophagy capacity might cause the vulnerability of the motor system, and that SOD1 aggregation plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2016
    • "many innervated P30 SOD1 MG endplates are covered by processes from SCs from remotely-located cell bodies and it is unclear whether extra processes needed to effect terminal sprouting can be produced at such endplates. Terminal sprouts have been observed in SOD1 mice (Frey et al., 2000; Pun et al., 2006), but other studies have reported that terminal sprouting is rare in SOD1 G93A muscles (Schaefer et al., 2005; Gould et al., 2006 ). Under conditions of defective terminal sprouting, compensatory reinnervation would be limited to nodal sprouting in which sprouts emerge from more proximal nodes of Ranvier of intact axons (Slack et al., 1979; Hopkins and Slack, 1981). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In several animal models of motor neuron disease, degeneration begins in the periphery. Clarifying the possible role of Schwann cells remains a priority. We recently showed that terminal Schwann cells (TSCs) exhibit abnormalities in postnatal mice that express mutations of the SOD1 enzyme found in inherited human motor neuron disease. TSC abnormalities appeared before disease-related denervation commenced and the extent of TSC abnormality at P30 correlated with the extent of subsequent denervation. Denervated neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) were also observed that lacked any labeling for TSCs. This suggested that SOD1 TSCs may respond differently than wildtype TSCs to denervation which remain at denervated NMJs for several months. In the present study, the response of SOD1 TSCs to experimental denervation was examined. At P30 and P60, SC-specific S100 labeling was quickly lost from SOD1 NMJs and from preterminal regions. Evidence indicates that this loss eventually becomes complete at most SOD1 NMJs before reinnervation occurs. The loss of labeling was not specific for S100 and did not depend on loss of activity. Although some post-denervation labeling loss occurred at wildtype NMJs, this loss was never complete. Soon after denervation, large cells appeared near SOD1 NMJ bands which colabeled for SC markers as well as for activated caspase-3 suggesting that distal SOD1 SCs may experience cell death following denervation. Denervated SOD1 NMJs viewed 7 days after denervation with the electron microscope confirmed the absence of TSCs overlying endplates. These observations demonstrate that SOD1 TSCs and distal SCs respond abnormally to denervation. This behavior can be expected to hinder reinnervation and raises further questions concerning the ability of SOD1 TSCs to support normal functioning of motor terminals.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016
    • "The overall effect will be to speed the development of weakness. Low MT sprouting competence has been noted in SOD1 G93A mice but attributed to disease expression in motor neurons (Frey et al., 2000; Gould et al., 2006; Pun et al., 2006 ). Our findings support the alternative possibility that this may be a property of abnormal TSCs. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In mice that express SOD1 mutations found in human motor neuron disease, degeneration begins in the periphery for reasons that remain unknown. At the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), terminal Schwann cells (TSCs) have an intimate relationship with motor terminals and are believed to help maintain the integrity of the motor terminal. Recent evidence indicates that TSCs in some SOD1 mice exhibit abnormal functional properties, but other aspects of possible TSC involvement remain unknown. In this study, an analysis of TSC morphology and number was performed in relation to NMJ innervation status in mice which express the G93A SOD1 mutation. At P30, all NMJs of the fast medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscle were fully innervated by a single motor axon but 50% of NMJs lacked TSC cell bodies and were instead covered by the processes of Schwann cells with cell bodies located on the preterminal axons. NMJs in P30 slow soleus muscles were also fully innervated by single motor axons and only 5% of NMJs lacked a TSC cell body. At P60, about 25% of MG NMJs were denervated and lacked labeling for TSCs while about 60% of innervated NMJs lacked TSC cell bodies. In contrast, 96% of P60 soleus NMJs were innervated while 9% of innervated NMJs lacked TSC cell bodies. The pattern of TSC abnormalities found at P30 thus correlates with the pattern of denervation found at P60. Evidence from mice that express the G85R SOD1 mutation indicate that TSC abnormalities are not unique for mice that express G93A SOD1 mutations. These results add to an emerging understanding that TSCs may play a role in motor terminal degeneration and denervation in animal models of motor neuron disease.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015
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