Traumatic injury induces stress granule formation and enhances motor dysfunctions in ALS/FTD models

Eric N. Anderson, Lauren Gochenaur, Aditi Singh, Rogan Grant, Krishani Patel, Simon Watkins, Jane Y. Wu, Udai Bhan Pandey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been predicted to be a predisposing factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurological disorders. Despite the importance of TBI in ALS progression, the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms are still an enigma. Here, we examined the contribution of TBI as an extrinsic factor and investigated whether TBI influences the susceptibility of developing neurodegenerative symptoms. To evaluate the effects of TBI in vivo, we applied mild to severe trauma to Drosophila and found that TBI leads to the induction of stress granules (SGs) in the brain. The degree of SGs induction directly correlates with the level of trauma. Furthermore, we observed that the level of mortality is directly proportional to the number of traumatic hits. Interestingly, trauma-induced SGs are ubiquitin, p62 and TDP-43 positive, and persistently remain over time suggesting that SGs might be aggregates and exert toxicity in our fly models. Intriguingly, TBI on animals expressing ALS-linked genes increased mortality and locomotion dysfunction suggesting that mild trauma might aggravate neurodegenerative symptoms associated with ALS. Furthermore, we found elevated levels of high molecular weight ubiquitinated proteins and p62 in animals expressing ALS-causing genes with TBI, suggesting that TBI may lead to the defects in protein degradation pathways. Finally, we observed that genetic and pharmacological induction of autophagy enhanced the clearance of SGs and promoted survival of flies in vivo. Together, our study demonstrates that trauma can induce SG formation in vivo and might enhance neurodegenerative phenotypes in the fly models of ALS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1366-1381
Number of pages16
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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