Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-linked UBQLN2 mutants inhibit endoplasmic reticulum to Golgi transport, leading to Golgi fragmentation and ER stress

Abstract

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are fatal neurodegenerative diseases that are related genetically and pathologically. Mutations in the UBQLN2 gene, encoding the ubiquitin-like protein ubiquilin2, are associated with familial ALS/FTD, but the pathophysiological mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that ALS/FTD UBQLN2 mutants P497H and P506T inhibit protein transport from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the Golgi apparatus in neuronal cells. In addition, we observed that Sec31-positive ER exit sites are clustered in UBQLN2T487I patient spinal cord tissues. Both the ER–Golgi intermediate (ERGIC) compartment and the Golgi become disorganised and fragmented. This activates ER stress and inhibits ER-associated degradation. Hence, this study highlights perturbations in secretory protein trafficking and ER homeostasis as pathogenic mechanisms associated with ALS/FTD-associated forms of UBQLN2.

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Contributions

All authors contributed to this article. JDA conceived and directed the project. JDA, MH, AMGR, K-YS, and VS designed the experiments. MH, AMGR designed and prepared the UBQLN2 constructs. HS helped to design the UBQLN2 constructs. MH performed and analysed experiments in Neuro2A cells (ER–Golgi transport, Golgi and ERGIC fragmentation, ER stress). AMGR performed and analysed the ERAD assay. MV, BH and SP performed and analysed experiments in human primary neurons. NG and SY performed and analysed experiments in human sections. MH, AMGR and JDA wrote, edited and revised the manuscript. All authors discussed results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Julie D. Atkin.

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Halloran, M., Ragagnin, A.M.G., Vidal, M. et al. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-linked UBQLN2 mutants inhibit endoplasmic reticulum to Golgi transport, leading to Golgi fragmentation and ER stress. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 77, 3859–3873 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00018-019-03394-w

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Keywords

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • ER-Golgi trafficking
  • ER stress
  • Ubiquilin-2
  • Unfolded protein response
  • Golgi fragmentation