Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) are two neurodegenerative disorders that share genetic causes and pathogenic mechanisms. The critical genetic players of ALS and FTD are the TARDBP, FUS and C9orf72 genes, whose protein products, TDP-43, FUS and the C9orf72-dipeptide repeat proteins, accumulate in form of cytoplasmic inclusions. The majority of the studies focus on the understanding of how cells control TDP-43 and FUS aggregation in the cytoplasm, overlooking how dysfunctions occurring at the nuclear level may influence the maintenance of protein solubility outside of the nucleus. However, protein quality control (PQC) systems that maintain protein homeostasis comprise a cytoplasmic and a nuclear arm that are interconnected and share key players. It is thus conceivable that impairment of the nuclear arm of the PQC may have a negative impact on the cytoplasmic arm of the PQC, contributing to the formation of the cytoplasmic pathological inclusions. Here we focused on two stress-inducible condensates that act as transient deposition sites for misfolding-prone proteins: Promyelocytic leukemia protein (PML) nuclear bodies (PML-NBs) and cytoplasmic stress granules (SGs). Upon stress, PML-NBs compartmentalize misfolded proteins, including defective ribosomal products (DRiPs), and recruit chaperones and proteasomes to promote their nuclear clearance. SGs transiently sequester aggregation-prone RNA-binding proteins linked to ALS-FTD and mRNAs to attenuate their translation. We report that PML assembly is impaired in the human brain and spinal cord of familial C9orf72 and FUS ALS-FTD cases. We also show that defective PML-NB assembly impairs the compartmentalization of DRiPs in the nucleus, leading to their accumulation inside cytoplasmic SGs, negatively influencing SG dynamics. Although it is currently unclear what causes the decrease of PML-NBs in ALS-FTD, our data highlight the existence of a cross-talk between the cytoplasmic and nuclear PQC systems, whose alteration can contribute to SG accumulation and cytoplasmic protein aggregation in ALS-FTD.
Antoniani, Francesco; Cimino, Marco; Mediani, Laura; Vinet, Jonathan; Verde, Enza M.; Secco, Valentina; Yamoah, Alfred; Tripathi, Priyanka; Aronica, Eleonora; Cicardi, Maria Elena; Trotti, Davide; Sterneckert, Jared; Goswami, Anand; and Carra, Serena, "Loss of PML Nuclear Bodies in Familial Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis-Frontotemporal Dementia" (2023). Farber Institute for Neuroscience Faculty Papers. Paper 53.
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