bims-proned Biomed News
on Proteostasis in neurodegeneration
Issue of 2024‒04‒14
ten papers selected by
Verena Kohler, Umeå University

  1. Chembiochem. 2024 Apr 12. e202400284
      The proteasome is a multisubunit protease system responsible for the majority of the protein turnover in eukaryotic organisms. Dysregulation of this enzymatic complex leads to protein accumulation, subsequent aggregation, and ultimately diseased states; for that reason, positive modulation of its activity has been recently investigated as a therapeutic strategy for neurodegenerative and age-related diseases. The small molecule AM404 was recently identified as an activator of the 20S isoform of the proteasome and further exploration of the scaffold revealed the importance of the polyunsaturated fatty acid chain to elicit activity. Herein, we report the investigation of the aromatic region of the scaffold and the evaluation of the small molecules in a variety of proteasome activity and protein degradation assays. We found that derivatives A22 and A23, compared to AM404, exhibit enhanced proteasome activity in biochemical and cellular proteasome assays and more favorable cellular viability profiles. Additionally, these compounds demonstrate the ability to degrade intrinsically disordered proteins, regardless of their molecular weight, and the ability to restore the proteasome activity in the presence of toxic oligomeric α-Syn species in a biochemical setting.
    Keywords:  AM-404; proteasome; stimulator
  2. Int J Biol Macromol. 2024 Apr 05. pii: S0141-8130(24)02228-1. [Epub ahead of print] 131423
      This article reveals the binding mechanism between glycyrrhizic acid (GA) and α-synuclein to may provide further information for the modulation of synucleinopathies using bioactive compounds. Therefore, the inhibitory activities of GA against α-synuclein aggregation and induced neurotoxicity were evaluated using different assays. Results showed that α-synuclein-GA binding was mediated by intermolecular hydrogen bonds leading to the formation of a slightly folded complex. Theoretical studies revealed that GA binds to the N-terminal domain of α-synuclein and triggers a compact structure around a major part of the N-terminal and the NAC regions along with fluctuations in the C-terminal domain, which are prerequisites for the inhibition of α-synuclein aggregation. Then, the cellular assays showed that GA as a potential small molecule can inhibit the oligomerization of α-synuclein and relevant neurotoxicity through modulation of neural viability, membrane leakage, and ROS formation in a concentration-dependent manner. As a result, the primary mechanism of GA's anti-aggregation and neuroprotective activities is the reorganized α-synuclein structure and fluctuating C-terminal domain, which promotes long-range transient intramolecular contacts between the N-terminal and the C-terminal domain.
    Keywords:  Glycyrrhizic acid; Interaction; α-Synuclein
  3. J Neurosci. 2024 Apr 08. pii: e1256232024. [Epub ahead of print]
      Protein misfolding, aggregation, and spread through the brain are primary drivers of neurodegenerative diseases pathogenesis. Phagocytic glia are responsible for regulating the load of pathogenic protein aggregates in the brain, but emerging evidence suggests that glia may also act as vectors for aggregate spread. Accumulation of protein aggregates could compromise the ability of glia to eliminate toxic materials from the brain by disrupting efficient degradation in the phagolysosomal system. A better understanding of phagocytic glial cell deficiencies in the disease state could help to identify novel therapeutic targets for multiple neurological disorders. Here, we report that mutant huntingtin (mHTT) aggregates impair glial responsiveness to injury and capacity to degrade neuronal debris in male and female adult Drosophila expressing the gene that causes Huntington's disease (HD). mHTT aggregate formation in neurons impairs engulfment and clearance of injured axons and causes accumulation of phagolysosomes in glia. Neuronal mHTT expression induces upregulation of key innate immunity and phagocytic genes, some of which were found to regulate mHTT aggregate burden in the brain. Finally, a forward genetic screen revealed Rab10 as a novel component of Draper-dependent phagocytosis that regulates mHTT aggregate transmission from neurons to glia. These data suggest that glial phagocytic defects enable engulfed mHTT aggregates to evade lysosomal degradation and acquire prion-like characteristics. Together, our findings reveal new mechanisms that enhance our understanding of the beneficial and potentially harmful effects of phagocytic glia in HD and potentially other neurodegenerative diseases.Significance Statement Deposition of amyloid aggregates is strongly associated with neurodegenerative disease progression and neuronal cell loss. Many studies point to glial cells as dynamic mediators of disease, capable of phagocytosing toxic materials, but also promoting chronic inflammation and proteopathic aggregate spread. Thus, glia have emerged as promising therapeutic targets for disease intervention. Here, we demonstrate in a Drosophila model of Huntington's disease that neuronal mHTT aggregates interfere with glial phagocytic engulfment, phagolysosomal processing, and innate immunity transcriptional responses. We also identify Rab10 as a novel modifier of prion-like transmission of mHTT aggregates. Our findings add to a growing narrative of glia as double-edged players in neurodegenerative diseases.
  4. Res Sq. 2024 Mar 29. pii: [Epub ahead of print]
      The soluble-to-toxic transformation of intrinsically disordered amyloidogenic proteins such as amyloid beta (Aβ), α-synuclein, mutant Huntingtin Protein (mHTT) and islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) among others is associated with disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), Huntington's disease (HD) and Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), respectively. The dissolution of mature fibrils and toxic amyloidogenic intermediates including oligomers continues to be the pinnacle in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. Yet, methods to effectively, and quantitatively, report on the interconversion between amyloid monomers, oligomers and mature fibrils fall short. Here we describe a simplified method that implements the use of gel electrophoresis to address the transformation between soluble monomeric amyloid proteins and mature amyloid fibrils. The technique implements an optimized but well-known, simple, inexpensive and quantitative assessment previously used to assess the oligomerization of amyloid monomers and subsequent amyloid fibrils. This method facilitates the screening of small molecules that disintegrate oligomers and fibrils into monomers, dimers, and trimers and/or retain amyloid proteins in their monomeric forms. Most importantly, our optimized method diminishes existing barriers associated with existing (alternative) techniques to evaluate fibril formation and intervention.
  5. J Mov Disord. 2024 Apr 09.
      Mutations in the SNCA gene, which encodes α-synuclein (α-syn), play a key role in the development of genetic Parkinson's disease (PD). α-Syn is a major component of Lewy bodies in PD and glial cytoplasmic inclusions in multiple system atrophy (MSA). Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) patients often progress to PD, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), or MSA, collectively known as α-synucleinopathies. The loss of dopaminergic neurons with Lewy bodies precedes motor dysfunction in these diseases, but the mechanisms of neurodegeneration due to α-syn aggregation are poorly understood. Monitoring α-syn aggregation in vivo could serve as a diagnostic biomarker and help elucidate the pathogenesis, necessitating a simple and accurate detection method. Seed amplification assays (SAAs), such as real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) and protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA), are used to detect small amounts of abnormally structured α-syn protofibrils, which are central to aggregation. These methods are promising for the early diagnosis of α-synucleinopathy. Differences in α-syn filament structures between α-synucleinopathies, observed through transmission electron microscopy and cryo-electron microscopy, suggest their role in the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration. SAAs may differentiate between subtypes of α-synucleinopathy and other diseases. Efforts are also being made to identify α-syn from blood using various methods. This review introduces body fluid α-syn biomarkers based on pathogenic α-syn seeds, which are expected to redefine α-synucleinopathy diagnosis and staging, improving clinical research accuracy and facilitating biomarker development.
    Keywords:  Multiple system atrophy; Parkinson’s disease; Seed amplification assays; α-Synuclein; α-Synucleinopathy
  6. Biol Pharm Bull. 2024 ;47(4): 827-839
      Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disease with progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in substantia nigra and the presence of α-synuclein-immunoreactive inclusions. Gaucher's disease is caused by homozygous mutations in β-glucocerebrosidase gene (GBA). GBA mutation carriers have an increased risk of PD. Coptis chinensis (C. chinensis) rhizome extract is a major herb widely used to treat human diseases. This study examined the association of GBA L444P mutation with Taiwanese PD in 1016 cases and 539 controls. In addition, the protective effects of C. chinensis rhizome extract and its active constituents (berberine, coptisine, and palmatine) against PD were assayed using GBA reporter cells, LC3 reporter cells, and cells expressing mutated (A53T) α-synuclein. Case-control study revealed that GBA L444P carriers had a 3.93-fold increased risk of PD (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.37-11.24, p = 0.006) compared to normal controls. Both C. chinensis rhizome extract and its constituents exhibited chemical chaperone activity to reduce α-synuclein aggregation. Promoter reporter and endogenous GBA protein analyses revealed that C. chinensis rhizome extract and its constituents upregulated GBA expression in 293 cells. In addition, C. chinensis rhizome extract and its constituents induced autophagy in DsRed-LC3-expressing 293 cells. In SH-SY5Y cells expressing A53T α-synuclein, C. chinensis rhizome extract and its constituents reduced α-synuclein aggregation and associated neurotoxicity by upregulating GBA expression and activating autophagy. The results of reducing α-synuclein aggregation, enhancing GBA expression and autophagy, and protecting against α-synuclein neurotoxicity open up the therapeutic potentials of C. chinensis rhizome extract and constituents for PD.
    Keywords:  Coptis chinensis rhizome extract; Parkinson’s disease; autophagy; palmatine; α-synuclein; β-glucocerebrosidase
  7. bioRxiv. 2024 Mar 27. pii: 2024.03.21.586202. [Epub ahead of print]
      C-terminally phosphorylated TAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43) marks the proteinaceous inclusions that characterize a number of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal lobar degeneration and Alzheimer's disease. TDP-43 phosphorylation at S403/S404, and especially at S409/S410, is in fact accepted as a biomarker of proteinopathy. These residues are located within the low complexity domain (LCD), which also drives the protein's liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS). The impact of phosphorylation at these LCD sites on phase separation of the protein is a topic of great interest, as these post-translational modifications and LLPS are both implicated in proteinopathies. Here, we employed a combination of experimental and simulation-based approaches to explore this question on a phosphomimetic model of the TDP-43 LCD. Our turbidity and fluorescence microscopy data show that Ser-to-Asp substitutions at residues S403, S404, S409 and S410 alter the LLPS behavior of TDP-43 LCD. In particular, in contrast to the unmodified protein, the phosphomimetic variants display a biphasic dependence on salt concentration. Through coarse-grained modeling, we find that this biphasic salt dependence is derived from an altered mechanism of phase separation, in which LLPS-driving short-range intermolecular hydrophobic interactions are modulated by long-range attractive electrostatic interactions. Overall, this in vitro and in silico study provides a physiochemical foundation for understanding the impact of pathologically-relevant C-terminal phosphorylation on the LLPS of the TDP-43 in a more complex cellular environment.Statement of Significance: Proteinaceous inclusions composed of phosphorylated, C-terminal TDP-43 fragments have long been recognized as hallmarks of several neurodegenerative diseases, in particular amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. A rapidly growing number of studies indicate that these proteinopathies may be closely related to liquid-liquid phased separation (LLPS) of TDP-43, but the impact of phosphorylation on TDP-43 LLPS remains largely unexplored. In this study we used a combination of experimental methods and coarse-grained simulations to ascertain, in mechanistic terms, how phosphorylation at pathologically-critical C-terminal sites impacts liquid-liquid phase separation of the low complexity domain of TDP-43. Our results broaden our understanding of the mechanisms driving pathogenic process in these neurodegenerative diseases.
  8. Brain Nerve. 2024 Apr;76(4): 399-408
      The 'amyloid hypothesis', initially put forward in 1992, posits that amyloid β protein (Aβ) contributes to neurodegeneration through aberrant aggregation. In the process of this aberrant aggregation, Aβ forms oligomers, protofibrils, and mature fibrils, ultimately developing plaques. These mature fibrils and plaques were believed to be the culprits behind the neurotoxicity and neurodegeneration seen in Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, growing evidence in recent years has led to the 'Aβ oligomer hypothesis', which suggests that the intermediate forms of aggregates, such as oligomers and protofibrils, exhibit stronger neurotoxicity than the mature forms. Consequently, efforts have been made to develop anti-Aβ antibody drugs that specifically target these intermediate aggregates. Such interventions hold promise as disease-modifying treatments for AD.
  9. Immunity. 2024 Apr 09. pii: S1074-7613(24)00131-6. [Epub ahead of print]57(4): 790-814
      Activation of the innate immune system following pattern recognition receptor binding has emerged as one of the major pathogenic mechanisms in neurodegenerative disease. Experimental, epidemiological, pathological, and genetic evidence underscores the meaning of innate immune activation during the prodromal as well as clinical phases of several neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and frontotemporal dementia. Importantly, innate immune activation and the subsequent release of inflammatory mediators contribute mechanistically to other hallmarks of neurodegenerative diseases such as aberrant proteostatis, pathological protein aggregation, cytoskeleton abnormalities, altered energy homeostasis, RNA and DNA defects, and synaptic and network disbalance and ultimately to the induction of neuronal cell death. In this review, we discuss common mechanisms of innate immune activation in neurodegeneration, with particular emphasis on the pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and other receptors involved in the detection of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs).
    Keywords:  immunology; microglia; neurodegenerative disease
  10. Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Mar 29. pii: 3806. [Epub ahead of print]25(7):
      Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) represents an autosomal recessive disorder with an incidence rate of 1 in 150,000 live births, classified within lysosomal storage diseases (LSDs). The abnormal accumulation of unesterified cholesterol characterizes the pathophysiology of NPC. This phenomenon is not unique to NPC, as analogous accumulations have also been observed in Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders. Interestingly, disturbances in the folding of the mutant protein NPC1 I1061T are accompanied by the aggregation of proteins such as hyperphosphorylated tau, α-synuclein, TDP-43, and β-amyloid peptide. These accumulations suggest potential disruptions in proteostasis, a regulatory process encompassing four principal mechanisms: synthesis, folding, maintenance of folding, and protein degradation. The dysregulation of these processes leads to excessive accumulation of abnormal proteins that impair cell function and trigger cytotoxicity. This comprehensive review delineates reported alterations across proteostasis mechanisms in NPC, encompassing changes in processes from synthesis to degradation. Additionally, it discusses therapeutic interventions targeting pharmacological facets of proteostasis in NPC. Noteworthy among these interventions is valproic acid, a histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) that modulates acetylation during NPC1 synthesis. In addition, various therapeutic options addressing protein folding modulation, such as abiraterone acetate, DHBP, calnexin, and arimoclomol, are examined. Additionally, treatments impeding NPC1 degradation, exemplified by bortezomib and MG132, are explored as potential strategies. This review consolidates current knowledge on proteostasis dysregulation in NPC and underscores the therapeutic landscape targeting diverse facets of this intricate process.
    Keywords:  cholesterol; lysosomal storage diseases (LSDs); lysosome; protein degradation; protein folding