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Title: Structural modifications of the RNA-binding protein, fused in sarcoma : implications for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Author: Robinson, Hannah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5371 0559
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2015
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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an aggressive neurodegenerative disease characterised by the loss of upper and lower motor neurons, resulting in progressive paralysis, muscular atrophy and eventual death, on average, within 2-5 years post diagnosis. In ∼5% of patients with familial ALS (fALS), causative mutations occur within the gene encoding the RNA-binding protein, Fused in Sarcoma (FUS). Normally, FUS is predominantly localised to the nucleus and has several known roles in transcription, splicing and mRNA transport. Yet, in ALS patients with mutant forms of FUS, the protein becomes dramatically mislocalised to the cytoplasm and abnormal proteinaceous inclusions of FUS in the cytoplasm are observed post-mortem. Several questions remain: How do large pathological inclusions of FUS form? Is pathology induced via a gain or loss of protein function? Can aggregation in the cytoplasm of this normally nuclear protein be sufficient to produce toxicity? This thesis provides detailed characterisation of a novel pathway through which FUS may aggregate following its mislocalisation to the cytoplasm. This pathway is distinct from recruitment into stressinduced stress granules and can lead to the formation of large RNA-based FUS aggregates in a concentration-dependent manner. It was demonstrated that reduced protein-RNA interaction through transcriptional inhibition resulted in the dissolution and reassembly of these FUS aggregates into higher order RNA-free structures, reminiscent of inclusions seen in ALS-FUS patients. We also show in vivo that an initial insult of FUS aggregation in the cytoplasm is sufficient to elicit ALS-like pathology. In addition, how loss of FUS from the nucleus could affect the nuclear architecture was investigated, highlighting an important role for FUS in the maintenance of a protective subnuclear body, the paraspeckle, the disruption of which may contribute to the pathogenesis of FUSopathies. As such, this thesis identifies several novel mechanisms involved in the development and progression of FUSopathy, which may be useful for future therapeutic strategies targeting ALS caused by FUS mutation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry