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The porphyrin TMPyP4 inhibits elongation during the non-canonical translation of the FTLD/ALS-associated GGGGCC repeat in the C9orf72 gene

J Biol Chem. 2021 Aug 24:101120. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2021.101120. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34450161.

Authors/Editors: Mori K, Gotoh S, Yamashita T, Uozumi R, Kawabe Y, Tagami S, Kamp F, Nuscher B, Edbauer D, Haass C, Nagai Y, Ikeda M.
Publication Date: 2021



GGGGCC (G4C2) repeat expansion in the C9orf72 gene has been shown to cause frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Dipeptide repeat proteins (DPR) produced through repeat-associated non-AUG (RAN) translation are recognized as potential drivers for neurodegeneration. Therefore, selective inhibition of RAN translation could be a therapeutic avenue to treat these neurodegenerative diseases. It was previously known that the porphyrin TMPyP4 binds to G4C2 repeat RNA. However, the consequences of this interaction have not been well characterized. Here, we confirmed that TMPyP4 inhibits C9orf72 G4C2 repeat translation in cellular and in in vitro translation systems. An artificial insertion of an AUG codon failed to cancel the translation inhibition, suggesting that TMPyP4 acts downstream of non-AUG translation initiation. Polysome profiling assays also revealed polysome retention on G4C2 repeat RNA, along with inhibition of translation, indicating that elongating ribosomes stall on G4C2 repeat RNA. Urea-resistant interaction between G4C2 repeat RNA and TMPyP4 likely contributes to this ribosome stalling, and thus to selective inhibition of RAN translation. Taken together, our data reveal a novel mode of action of TMPyP4 as an inhibitor of G4C2 repeat translation elongation.

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