The pathobiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a proteinopathy? Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is increasingly considered to be a disorder of multiple etiologies that have in common progressive degeneration of both upper and lower motor neurons, ultimately giving rise to a relentless loss of muscle function. This progressive degeneration is associated with heightened levels of oxidative injury, excitotoxicity, and mitochondrial dysfunction--all occurring concurrently. In this article, we review the evidence that suggests, in common with other age-dependent neurodegenerative disorders, that ALS can be considered a disorder of protein aggregation. Morphologically, this is evident as Bunina bodies, ubiquitin-immunoreactive fibrils or aggregates, neurofilamentous aggregates, mutant copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) aggregates in familial ALS variants harboring mutations in SOD1, peripherin-immunoreactive aggregates within spinal motor neurons and as neuroaxonal spheroids, and in an increasingly greater population of patients with ALS with cognitive impairment, both intra- and extraneuronal tau aggregates. We review the evidence that somatotopically specific patterns of altered kinase and phosphatase activity are associated with alterations in the phosphorylation state of these proteins, altering either solubility or assembly characteristics. The role of nonneuronal cells in mediating motor neuronal injury is discussed in the context of alterations in tyrosine kinase activity and enhanced protein phosphorylation.

publication date

  • August 2005