New papers from Professor Baralle's lab

Buratti, E., Baralle, F.E. The molecular links between TDP-43 dysfunction and neurodegeneration. 2009. Adv. Genet. 66, 1-34. (doi: 10.1016/S0065-2660(09)66001-6)

Abstract: TDP-43 nuclear protein is involved in several major neurodegenerative diseases that include frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin (FTLD-U) bodies and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). As a consequence, the role played by this protein in both normal and diseased cellular metabolism has come under very close scrutiny. In the neuronal tissues of affected individuals TDP-43 undergoes aberrant localization to the cytoplasm to form insoluble aggregates. Furthermore, it is subject to degradation, ubiquitination, and phosphorylation. Understanding the pathways that lead to these changes will be crucial to define the functional role played by this protein in disease. Several recent biochemical and molecular studies have provided new information regarding the potential physiological consequences of these modifications. Moreover, the discovery of TDP-43 mutations associated with disease in a limited number of cases and the data from existing animal models have strengthened the proposed links between this protein and disease. In this review we will discuss the available data regarding the biochemical and functional changes that transform the wild-type endogenous TDP-43 in its pathological form. Furthermore, we will concentrate on examining the potential pathological mechanisms mediated by TDP-43 in different gain- versus loss-of-function scenarios. In the near future, this knowledge will hopefully increase our knowledge on disease progression and development. Moreover, it will allow the design of innovative therapeutic strategies for these pathologies based on the specific molecular defects causing the disease.

Colombrita, C., Zennaro, E., Fallini, C., Weber, M., Sommacal, A., Buratti, E., Silani, V., Ratti, A. TDP-43 is recruited to stress granules in conditions of oxidative insult. 2009. J. Neurochemistry 111(4), 1051-1061. (doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06383.x)

Abstract: TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) forms abnormal ubiquitinated and phosphorylated inclusions in brain tissues from patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. TDP-43 is a DNA/RNA-binding protein involved in RNA processing, such as transcription, pre-mRNA splicing, mRNA stabilization and transport to dendrites. We found that in response to oxidative stress and to environmental insults of different types TDP-43 is capable to assemble into stress granules (SGs), ribonucleoprotein complexes where protein synthesis is temporarily arrested. We demonstrated that a specific aminoacidic interval (216-315) in the C-terminal region and the RNA-recognition motif 1 domain are both implicated in TDP-43 participation in SGs since their deletion prevented the recruitment of TDP-43 into SGs. Our data show that TDP-43 is a specific component of SGs and not of processing bodies, although we proved that TDP-43 is not necessary for SG formation, and its gene silencing does not impair cell survival during stress. The analysis of spinal cord tissue from ALS patients showed that SG markers are not entrapped in TDP-43 pathological inclusions. Although SGs were not evident in ALS brains, we speculate that an altered control of mRNA translation in stressful conditions may trigger motor neuron degeneration at early stages of the disease.