Author(s): Durham HD, Roy J, Dong L, Figlewicz DA
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Abstract Mutations in the Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD-1) gene underlie some familial cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS), a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by loss of cortical, brainstem, and spinal motor neurons. To investigate the mechanisms responsible for the toxicity of mutant enzyme, SOD-1 cDNAs bearing mutations found in FALS patients (mSOD) were expressed in cultured spinal motor neurons, dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and hippocampal neurons. Many features of motor neuron disease seen in humans with FALS and in transgenic mouse models were reproduced, including preferential susceptibility of motor neurons to toxicity of mSOD. Abnormal cytoplasmic aggregation of mSOD protein was observed in mSOD-expressing motor neurons, but never in neurons expressing SODwt enzyme, and was followed by evidence of apoptotic cell death. Such aggregates were not observed in nonvulnerable neuronal populations expressing mSOD (DRG or hippocampal neurons). Aggregation of SOD-1 may contribute significantly to the death of motor neurons expressing mutations associated with FALS-1 and the mechanisms leading to aggregation may pertain to the specific vulnerability of motor neurons in this disease.
This article was published in J Neuropathol Exp Neurol
and referenced in Journal of Alzheimers Disease & Parkinsonism