Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. Mutations in Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) are responsible for approximately 20 % of the familial ALS cases. ALS-causing SOD1 mutants display a gain-of-toxicity phenotype, but the nature of this toxicity is still not fully understood. The Ras GTPase-activating protein-binding protein G3BP1 plays a critical role in stress granule dynamics. Alterations in the dynamics of stress granules have been reported in several other forms of ALS unrelated to SOD1. To our surprise, the mutant G93A SOD1 transgenic mice exhibited pathological cytoplasmic inclusions that co-localized with G3BP1-positive granules in spinal cord motor neurons. The co-localization was also observed in fibroblast cells derived from familial ALS patient carrying SOD1 mutation L144F. Mutant SOD1, unlike wild-type SOD1, interacted with G3BP1 in an RNA-independent manner. Moreover, the interaction is specific for G3BP1 since mutant SOD1 showed little interaction with four other RNA-binding proteins implicated in ALS. The RNA-binding RRM domain of G3BP1 and two particular phenylalanine residues (F380 and F382) are critical for this interaction. Mutant SOD1 delayed the formation of G3BP1- and TIA1-positive stress granules in response to hyperosmolar shock and arsenite treatment in N2A cells. In summary, the aberrant mutant SOD1–G3BP1 interaction affects stress granule dynamics, suggesting a potential link between pathogenic SOD1 mutations and RNA metabolism alterations in ALS.

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Published in Acta Neuropathologica, v. 132, issue 4, p. 563-576.

© The Author(s) 2016.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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This study was in part supported by the National Institutes of Neurological Disorder and Stroke Grant R01NS077284, ALS Association Grant 6SE340 and VA MERIT award I01 BX002149 (to H.Z.) as well as a Research Support Grant from the University of Kentucky Office of the Vice President for Research (to J.G.).

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