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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: International Journal of Biological Sciences.

Volume 6, Issue 4, July 2010, Pages 396-406.

The published version is available at PMID: 20616880. Copyright © Ivy Spring.


TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP-43) and fused in sarcoma (FUS) are two highly conserved ribonucleoproteins. Pathogenic mutations of the TDP-43 or the FUS gene are all linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that is characterized by progressive degeneration of motor neurons. To better understand the correlation of ALS disease genes with the selectivity of chronic motor neuron degeneration, we examined the longitudinal expression of the TDP-43 and the FUS genes in C57BL6 mice and in Sprague-Dawley rats. TDP-43 and FUS were robustly and ubiquitously expressed in the postnatal mice and rats, but were markedly decreased in the adult rodents. In adulthood, TDP-43 and FUS proteins were even undetectable in peripheral organs including skeletal muscles, liver, and kidney, but were constantly expressed at substantial levels in the central nervous system. Motor neurons expressed the TDP-43 and the FUS genes at robust levels throughout rodent's lifetime. Moreover, TDP-43 and FUS were accumulated in the cytoplasm of motor neurons in aged animals. Our findings suggest that TDP-43 and FUS play an important role in development and that constant and robust expression of the genes in motor neurons may render the neurons vulnerable to pathogenic mutation of the TDP-43 or the FUS gene. To faithfully model the pathology of TDP-43- or FUS gene mutations in rodents, we must replicate the expression patterns of the TDP-43 and the FUS gene in animals.

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