Publication Details

Crown, A., McAlary, L., Fagerli, E., Brown, H., Yerbury, J. J., Galaleldeen, A., Cashman, N. R., Borchelt, D. R. & Ayers, J. I. (2020). Tryptophan residue 32 in human Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase modulates prion-like propagation and strain selection. PloS one, 15 (1), e0227655-1-e0227655-21.


Mutations in Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) associated with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cause the protein to aggregate via a prion-like process in which soluble molecules are recruited to aggregates by conformational templating. These misfolded SOD1 proteins can propagate aggregation-inducing conformations across cellular membranes. Prior studies demonstrated that mutation of a Trp (W) residue at position 32 to Ser (S) suppresses the propagation of misfolded conformations between cells, whereas other studies have shown that mutation of Trp 32 to Phe (F), or Cys 111 to Ser, can act in cis to attenuate aggregation of mutant SOD1. By expressing mutant SOD1 fused with yellow fluorescent protein (YFP), we compared the relative ability of these mutations to modulate the formation of inclusions by ALS-mutant SOD1 (G93A and G85R). Only mutation of Trp 32 to Ser persistently reduced the formation of the amorphous inclusions that form in these cells, consistent with the idea that a Ser at position 32 inhibits templated propagation of aggregation prone conformations. To further test this idea, we produced aggregated fibrils of recombinant SOD1-W32S in vitro and injected them into the spinal cords of newborn mice expressing G85R-SOD1: YFP. The injected mice developed an earlier onset paralysis with a frequency similar to mice injected with WT SOD1 fibrils, generating a strain of misfolded SOD1 that produced highly fibrillar inclusion pathology. These findings suggest that the effect of Trp 32 in modulating the propagation of misfolded SOD1 conformations may be dependent upon the "strain" of the conformer that is propagating.



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