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Title: In vitro transgenic models to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of TDP-43 pathology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Author: Mutihac, Ruxandra
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disorder characterized by loss of upper and lower motor neurons. TDP-43 was identified as a major protein component of the characteristic neuronal inclusions and it has been detected in 90% of ALS cases. Furthermore, pathogenic mutations in the gene encoding TDP-43, TARDBP, were found in both sporadic and familial ALS cases. The aim of this study is to investigate the molecular mechanisms of cellular dysfunction and ultimately death caused by TDP-43 mutations in human cells using established cell lines and human motor neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). We generated a novel in vitro cellular model using a fluorescently tagged human genomic TARDBP locus carrying three ALS-specific mutations, A382T, M337V or Y374X. In site specific bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) human stable cell lines, TDP M337V mislocalized to the cytoplasm more frequently than wild-type TDP-43 (TDP Ypet) and TDP-A382T, an effect potentiated by oxidative stress. Cytoplasmic mislocalization was significantly higher in TDP M337V cells compared to TDP-Ypet and correlated with cell death. Cells expressing the mislocalized TDP M337V mutant spontaneously developed cytoplasmic punctae, while for TDP-A382T punctae were only revealed after endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress induced by the calcium-modifying drug thapsigargin (TG). Lowering Ca2+ concentration in the ER of TDP-Ypet cells partially recapitulated the effect of pathogenic mutations by increasing TDP-43 cytoplasmic mislocalization, suggesting Ca2+ dysregulation as a potential mediator of pathology. Ca2+ signaling from the ER was impaired in cells carrying TDP-43 mutations, with a 50% reduction in the levels of luminal ER Ca2+ stores content and delayed Ca2+ release induced by carbachol compared to TDP-Ypet cells. The deficits in Ca2+ release correlated with upregulation of Bcl-2 and siRNA-mediated knockdown of Bcl-2 restored amplitude of Ca2+ oscillations in TDP-M337V cells. These results suggest that TDP-43 pathogenic mutations elicit cytoplasmic mislocalization of TDP-43 through Bcl-2 regulation of ER Ca2+ signalling. Preliminary work in iPSC-derived motor neurons transduced with genomic DNA expression TDP-43 vectors using Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1) amplicons showed cytoplasmic redistribution of TDP-43 under high oxidative stress, without significant differences between mutations and wild-type. TDP-43 mutations delivered by HSV-1 amplicons also did not affect survival of iPSC-derived motor neurons. In ALS patient-derived motor neurons carrying C9orf72 expansions, TDP-43 pathology was not detected. However, preliminary data indicate that C9orf72 MNs present ER Ca2+ dysregulation with significantly high intracellular Ca2+ concentration, which correlates with high protein levels of ER stress markers and low levels of Bcl 2. This work highlights a potentially pathogenic role for TDP-43 mutations in the dysregulation of Ca2+ homeostasis and explores the use of iPS technology to investigate the effects of ALS-associated mutations in healthy and patient-derived motor neurons.
Supervisor: Wade-Martins, Richard; Talbot, Kevin Sponsor: Motor Neurone Disease Association
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Stem cells (clinical sciences) ; Biology (medical sciences) ; Genetics (medical sciences) ; Neuroscience ; Motor neurone degenerative disease ; Neurogenetics ; motor neurone disease ; calcium signalling ; neurodegeneration