Vulnerability of the spinal motor neuron presynaptic terminal sub-proteome in ALS

Publication Name

Neuroscience Letters


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, characterised by the loss of motor neurons and subsequent paralysis. Evidence indicates that synaptic alterations are associated with the early stages of ALS pathogenesis. A hallmark of ALS postmortem tissue is the presence of proteinaceous inclusions, indicative of disturbed protein homeostasis, particularly in spinal cord motor neurons. We recently demonstrated that spinal cord motor neurons contain a supersaturated proteome, as they possess proteins at concentrations that exceed their solubility limits, resulting in a metastable proteome conducive to protein misfolding and aggregation. Recent evidence indicates metastable sub-proteomes within neuronal compartments, such as the synapse, may be particularly vulnerable and underlie their involvement in the initial stages of neurodegenerative diseases. To investigate if the motor neuron presynaptic terminal possesses a metastable sub-proteome, we used human and mouse spinal cord motor neuron expression data to calculate supersaturation scores. Here, we found that both the human and mouse presynaptic terminal sub-proteomes have higher supersaturation scores than the entire motor neuron proteome. In addition, we observed that proteins down-regulated in ALS were over-represented in the synapse. These results provide support for the notion that the metastability of the sub-proteome within the motor neuron presynaptic terminal may be particularly susceptible to protein homeostasis disturbances in ALS, and may contribute to explaining the observed synaptic dysfunction in ALS.

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Funding Sponsor

Motor Neurone Disease Research Institute of Australia



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