ALS mouse model SOD1G93A displays early pathology of sensory small fibers associated to accumulation of a neurotoxic splice variant of peripherin

Jenny Sassone, Michela Taiana, Raffaella Lombardi, Carla Porretta-Serapiglia, Mattia Freschi, Silvia Bonanno, Stefania Marcuzzo, Francesca Caravello, Caterina Bendotti, Giuseppe Lauria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growing evidence suggests that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a multisystem neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects motor neurons and, though less evidently, other neuronal systems. About 75% of sporadic and familial ALS patients show a subclinical degeneration of small-diameter fibers, as measured by loss of intraepidermal nerve fibers (IENFs), but the underlying biological causes are unknown. Small-diameter fibers are derived from small-diameter sensory neurons, located in dorsal root ganglia (DRG), whose biochemical hallmark is the expression of type III intermediate filament peripherin.We tested here the hypothesis that small-diameter DRG neurons of ALS mouse model SOD1G93A suffer fromaxonal stress and investigated the underlying molecular mechanism. We found that SOD1G93A mice display small fiber pathology, as measured by IENF loss, which precedes the onset of the disease. In vitro small-diameter DRG neurons of SOD1G93A mice showaxonal stress features and accumulation of a peripherin splice variant, named peripherin56, which causes axonal stress through disassembling light and medium neurofilament subunits (NFL and NFM, respectively). Our findings first demonstrate that small-diameter DRG neurons of the ALS mouse model SOD1G93A display axonal stress in vitro and in vivo, thus sustaining the hypothesis that the effects of ALS disease spread beyond motor neurons. These results suggest a molecular mechanism for the small fiber pathology found in ALS patients. Finally, our data agree with previous findings, suggesting a key role of peripherin in the ALS pathogenesis, thus highlighting that DRG neurons mirror some dysfunctions found in motor neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberddw035
Pages (from-to)1588-1599
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Molecular Biology


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