Multiple neurotoxic proteinopathies co-exist within vulnerable neuronal populations in all major neurodegenerative diseases. Interactions between these pathologies may modulate disease progression, suggesting they may constitute targets for disease-modifying treatments aiming to slow or halt neurodegeneration. Pairwise interactions between superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) and ubiquitin-binding protein 62/sequestosome 1 (p62) proteinopathies have been reported in multiple transgenic cellular and animal models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), however corresponding examination of these relationships in patient tissues is lacking. Further, the coalescence of all three proteinopathies has not been studied in vitro or in vivo to date. These data are essential to guide therapeutic development and enhance the translation of relevant therapies into the clinic. Our group recently profiled SOD1 proteinopathy in post-mortem spinal cord tissues from familial and sporadic ALS cases, demonstrating an abundance of structurally-disordered (dis)SOD1 conformers which become mislocalized within these vulnerable neurons compared with those of aged controls. To explore any relationships between this, and other, ALS-linked proteinopathies, we profiled TDP-43 and p62 within spinal cord motor neurons of the same post-mortem tissue cohort using multiplexed immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry. We identified distinct patterns of SOD1, TDP43 and p62 co-deposition and subcellular mislocalization between motor neurons of familial and sporadic ALS cases, which we primarily attribute to SOD1 gene status. Our data demonstrate co-deposition of p62 with mutant and wild-type disSOD1 and phosphorylated TDP-43 in familial and sporadic ALS spinal cord motor neurons, consistent with attempts by p62 to mitigate SOD1 and TDP-43 deposition. Wild-type SOD1 and TDP-43 co-deposition was also frequently observed in ALS cases lacking SOD1 mutations. Finally, alterations to the subcellular localization of the three proteins were tightly correlated, suggesting close relationships between the regulatory mechanisms governing the subcellular compartmentalization of these proteins. Our study is the first to profile spatial relationships between SOD1, TDP-43 and p62 pathologies in post-mortem spinal cord motor neurons of ALS patients, previously only studied in vitro. Our findings suggest interactions between these three key ALS-linked proteins are likely to modulate the formation of their respective proteinopathies, and perhaps the rate of motor neuron degeneration, in ALS patients.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Superoxide dismutase-1
- TAR DNA-binding protein 43