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RRM adjacent TARDBP mutations disrupt RNA binding and enhance TDP-43 proteinopathy

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  • Han-Jou Chen
  • Simon D Topp
  • Ho Sang Hui
  • Elsa Zacco
  • Malvika Katarya
  • Conor McLoughlin
  • Andrew David King
  • Bradley N Smith
  • Claire Troakes
  • Annalisa Pastore
  • Christopher E Shaw


Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 16 Aug 2019
DatePublished (current) - 11 Oct 2019
Number of pages18
Original languageEnglish


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) presents with focal muscle weakness due to motor neuron degeneration that becomes generalized,leading to death from respiratory failure within 3–5 years from symptom onset. Despite the heterogeneity of aetiology, TDP- 43 proteinopathy is a common pathological feature that is observed in 495% of ALS and tau-negative frontotemporal dementia(FTD) cases. TDP-43 is a DNA/RNA-binding protein that in ALS and FTD translocates from being predominantly nuclear to formdetergent-resistant, hyperphosphorylated aggregates in the cytoplasm of affected neurons and glia. Mutations in TARDBP accountfor 1–4% of all ALS cases and almost all arise in the low complexity C-terminal domain that does not affect RNA binding andprocessing. Here we report an ALS/FTD kindred with a novel K181E TDP-43 mutation that is located in close proximity to the RRM1 domain. To offer predictive gene testing to at-risk family members, we undertook a series of functional studies to characterizethe properties of the mutation. Spectroscopy studies of the K181E protein revealed no evidence of significant misfolding.Although it is unable to bind to or splice RNA, it forms abundant aggregates in transfected cells. We extended our study to includeother ALS-linked mutations adjacent to the RRM domains that also disrupt RNA binding and greatly enhance TDP-43 aggregation,forming detergent-resistant and hyperphosphorylated inclusions. Lastly, we demonstrate that K181E binds to, and sequesters, wild-type TDP-43 within nuclear and cytoplasmic inclusions. Thus, we demonstrate that TDP-43 mutations that disrupt RNAbinding greatly enhance aggregation and are likely to be pathogenic as they promote wild-type TDP-43 to mislocalize andaggregate acting in a dominant-negative manner. This study highlights the importance of RNA binding to maintain TDP-43solubility and the role of TDP-43 aggregation in disease pathogenesis.

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©The Author(s) (2019).

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