Neurodegenerative diseases (NDs) are often associated with the presence of misfolded protein inclusions. The chaperone HSPB8 is upregulated in mice, the human brain and muscle structures affected during NDs progression. HSPB8 exerts a potent pro-degradative activity on several misfolded proteins responsible for familial NDs forms. Here, we demonstrated that HSPB8 also counteracts accumulation of aberrantly localized misfolded forms of TDP-43 and its 25 KDa fragment involved in most sporadic cases of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (sALS) and of Fronto Lateral Temporal Dementia (FLTD). HSPB8 acts with BAG3 and the HSP70/HSC70-CHIP complex enhancing the autophagic removal of misfolded proteins. We performed a high-through put screening (HTS) to find small molecules capable of inducing HSPB8 in neurons for therapeutic purposes. We identified two compounds, colchicine and doxorubicin, that robustly up-regulated HSPB8 expression. Both colchicine and doxorubicin increased the expression of the master regulator of autophagy TFEB, the autophagy linker p62/SQSTM1 and the autophagosome component LC3. In line, both drugs counteracted the accumulation of TDP-43 and TDP-25 misfolded species responsible for motoneuronal death in sALS. Thus, analogs of colchicine and doxorubicin able to induce HSPB8 and with better safety and tolerability may result beneficial in NDs models.
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