The Timing and Extent of Motor Neuron Vulnerability in ALS Correlates with Accumulation of Misfolded SOD1 Protein in the Cortex and in the Spinal Cord

Baris Genc, Oge Gozutok, Nuran Kocak, P. Hande Ozdinler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Understanding the cellular and molecular basis of selective vulnerability has been challenging, especially for motor neuron diseases. Developing drugs that improve the health of neurons that display selective vulnerability relies on in vivo cell-based models and quantitative readout measures that translate to patient outcome. We initially developed and characterized UCHL1-eGFP mice, in which motor neurons are labeled with eGFP that is stable and long-lasting. By crossing UCHL1-eGFP to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease models, we generated ALS mouse models with fluorescently labeled motor neurons. Their examination over time began to reveal the cellular basis of selective vulnerability even within the related motor neuron pools. Accumulation of misfolded SOD1 protein both in the corticospinal and spinal motor neurons over time correlated with the timing and extent of degeneration. This further proved simultaneous degeneration of both upper and lower motor neurons, and the requirement to consider both upper and lower motor neuron populations in drug discovery efforts. Demonstration of the direct correlation between misfolded SOD1 accumulation and motor neuron degeneration in both cortex and spinal cord is important for building cell-based assays in vivo. Our report sets the stage for shifting focus from mice to diseased neurons for drug discovery efforts, especially for motor neuron diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCells
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 22 2020

Keywords

  • ALS
  • corticospinal motor neuron
  • misfolded SOD1
  • motor neurons
  • selective vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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