Dipeptide repeat protein inclusions are rare in the spinal cord and almost absent from motor neurons in C9ORF72 mutant amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and are unlikely to cause their degeneration

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Cytoplasmic TDP-43 inclusions are the pathological hallmark of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and tau-negative frontotemporal lobar dementia (FTLD). The G4C2 repeat mutation in C9ORF72 is the most common cause of ALS and FTLD in which, in addition to TDP-43 inclusions, five different di-peptide repeat (DPR) proteins have been identified. Di-peptide repeat proteins are translated in a non-canonical fashion from sense and antisense transcripts of the G4C2 repeat (GP, GA, GR, PA, PR). DPR inclusions are abundant in the cerebellum, as well as in the frontal and temporal lobes of ALS and FTLD patients and some are neurotoxic in a range of cellular and animal models, implying that DPR aggregation directly contributes to disease pathogenesis. Here we sought to quantify inclusions for each DPR and TDP-43 in ALS cases with and without the C9ORF72 mutation. We characterised the abundance of DPRs and their cellular location and compared this to cytoplasmic TDP-43 inclusions in order to explore the role of each inclusion in lower motor neuron degeneration.

RESULTS: Spinal cord sections from ten cases positive for the C9ORF72 repeat expansion (ALS-C9+ve) and five cases that were not were probed by double immunofluorescence staining for individual DPRs and TDP-43. Inclusions immunoreactive for each of the DPRs were present in the spinal cord but they were rare or very rare in abundance (in descending order of frequency: GA, GP, GR, PA and PR). TDP-43 cytoplasmic inclusions were 45- to 750-fold more frequent than any DPR, and fewer than 4 % of DPR inclusions colocalized with TDP-43 inclusions. In motor neurons, a single cytoplasmic DPR inclusion was detected (0.1 %) in contrast to the 34 % of motor neurons that contained cytoplasmic TDP-43 inclusions. Furthermore, the number of TDP-43 inclusions in ALS cases with and without the C9ORF72 mutation was nearly identical.

CONCLUSIONS: For all other neurodegenerative diseases, the neurotoxic protein aggregates are detected in the affected population of neurons. TDP-43 cytoplasmic aggregation is the dominant feature of ALS spinal cord pathology irrespective of C9ORF72 mutation status. The near absence of DPR inclusions in spinal cord motor neurons challenges their contribution to lower motor neuron degeneration in ALS-C9+ve cases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
Number of pages7
JournalActa Neuropathologica Communications
Volume3
Issue number1
Early online date25 Jun 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2015

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