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Knocking out C9ORF72 Exacerbates Axonal Trafficking Defects Associated with Hexanucleotide Repeat Expansion and Reduces Levels of Heat Shock Proteins.

Stem Cell Reports. 2020 Feb 5. pii: S2213-6711(20)30031-X. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2020.01.010. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Abo-Rady M, Kalmbach N, Pal A, Schludi C, Janosch A, Richter T, Freitag P, Bickle M, Kahlert AK, Petri S, Stefanov S, Glass H, Staege S, Just W, Bhatnagar R, Edbauer D, Hermann A, Wegner F, Sterneckert JL.
Publication Date: 2020



In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) motor neurons (MNs) undergo dying-back, where the distal axon degenerates before the soma. The hexanucleotide repeat expansion (HRE) in C9ORF72 is the most common genetic cause of ALS, but the mechanism of pathogenesis is largely unknown with both gain- and loss-of-function mechanisms being proposed. To better understand C9ORF72-ALS pathogenesis, we generated isogenic induced pluripotent stem cells. MNs with HRE in C9ORF72 showed decreased axonal trafficking compared with gene corrected MNs. However, knocking out C9ORF72 did not recapitulate these changes in MNs from healthy controls, suggesting a gain-of-function mechanism. In contrast, knocking out C9ORF72 in MNs with HRE exacerbated axonal trafficking defects and increased apoptosis as well as decreased levels of HSP70 and HSP40, and inhibition of HSPs exacerbated ALS phenotypes in MNs with HRE. Therefore, we propose that the HRE in C9ORF72 induces ALS pathogenesis via a combination of gain- and loss-of-function mechanisms.

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