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Title: Unfolded protein responses in models of Motor Neuron Disease
Author: Kwok, Alice
ISNI:       0000 0004 2710 5144
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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Motor neuron disorders are a heterogeneous group of diseases characterized by the selective degeneration of motor neurons leading to muscle wasting and atrophy. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is the most common amongst these disorders and is characterized by the selective loss of both upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. 20% of familial cases of ALS are caused by mutations in the Cu, Zn-superoxide dismutase gene (SOD1), a ubiquitously expressed enzyme responsible for scavenging superoxide radicals. The exact mechanisms underlying mutant SOD1-mediated neurotoxicity are unknown. Misfolded mutant SOD1 accumulates in the cytosol and mitochondrial intermembrane space (IMS) indicating the involvement of unfolded protein responses in ALS pathogenesis. Unfolded protein responses (UPRs) are complex signal transduction cascades which detect perturbations in protein folding and couple them to the expression of protein quality control machinery thereby allowing individual compartments to adapt to stress. In the cytosol, this study has shown that HspB8 was upregulated by SOD1 mutants, where it induced the clearance of aggregates by macroautophagy. This is a protective mechanism, as overexpression of HspB8 suppressed mutant-SOD1 mediated toxicity. In contrast, HspB8 mutants were impaired in macroautophagy and are toxic to NSC-34 cells. The mechanisms for the IMS-UPR have not been previously identified. To address this issue, a model for the accumulation of misfolded mutant SOD1 within the IMS was created and candidate proteins involved in protein quality control within the IMS were explored at the transcriptional level and at the level of protein expression. Preliminary results revealed some possible candidates that may have a role in the adaptation to mitochondrial stress. Interestingly, increased mitophagy was also found in IMS-G93A expressing cells, advocating the central role of macroautophagy in eliminating protein aggregates and damaged mitochondria in SOD1-FALS.
Supervisor: Talbot, Kevin ; Agashe, Vishwas Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Motor neurone degenerative disease ; unfolded protein responses ; motor neuron disease