Cell-Clearing Systems Bridging Repeat Expansion Proteotoxicity and Neuromuscular Junction Alterations in ALS and SBMA

Fiona Limanaqi, Carla Letizia Busceti, Francesca Biagioni, Federica Cantini, Paola Lenzi, Francesco Fornai

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Abstract

The coordinated activities of autophagy and the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) are key to preventing the aggregation and toxicity of misfold-prone proteins which manifest in a number of neurodegenerative disorders. These include proteins which are encoded by genes containing nucleotide repeat expansions. In the present review we focus on the overlapping role of autophagy and the UPS in repeat expansion proteotoxicity associated with chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) and androgen receptor (AR) genes, which are implicated in two motor neuron disorders, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and spinal-bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), respectively. At baseline, both C9ORF72 and AR regulate autophagy, while their aberrantly-expanded isoforms may lead to a failure in both autophagy and the UPS, further promoting protein aggregation and toxicity within motor neurons and skeletal muscles. Besides proteotoxicity, autophagy and UPS alterations are also implicated in neuromuscular junction (NMJ) alterations, which occur early in both ALS and SBMA. In fact, autophagy and the UPS intermingle with endocytic/secretory pathways to regulate axonal homeostasis and neurotransmission by interacting with key proteins which operate at the NMJ, such as agrin, acetylcholine receptors (AChRs), and adrenergic beta2 receptors (B2-ARs). Thus, alterations of autophagy and the UPS configure as a common hallmark in both ALS and SBMA disease progression. The findings here discussed may contribute to disclosing overlapping molecular mechanisms which are associated with a failure in cell-clearing systems in ALS and SBMA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4021
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Volume21
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 4 2020

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