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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Acta neuropathologica communications, Volume 6, Issue 1, November 2018, Page 122.

The published version is available at Copyright © Chen et al.


Mutations in ubiquilin2 (UBQLN2) have been linked to abnormal protein aggregation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The mechanisms underlying UBQLN2-related neurodegenerative diseases remain unclear. Using a tetracycline-regulated gene expression system, the ALS-linked UBQLN2P497H mutant was selectively expressed in either the spinal motor neurons or astrocytes in rats. We found that selectively expressing mutant UBQLN2P497H in the spinal motor neurons caused several core features of ALS, including the progressive degeneration of motor neurons, the denervation atrophy of skeletal muscles, and the abnormal protein accumulation. Furthermore, mutant UBQLN2P497H accumulation was associated with an age-dependent decrease in several core autophagy-related proteins. ALS-like phenotypes were not observed when mutant UBQLN2P497H was overexpressed in the astrocytes, however, even though the expression of the mutant UBQLN2P497H protein was higher in these rats. Our results suggest that selectively expressing mutant UBQLN2P497H in motor neurons is sufficient to trigger the development of ALS in rats. Our results further indicate that the compromised autophagy-lysosomal pathway plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of UBQLN2-related neurodegenerative diseases.

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