Neuronal hyperexcitability and cytoplasmic mislocalization of the nuclear RNA binding proteinTDP43 are universal features in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but the relationship between these phenomena remains poorly defined. Here, we show that neuronal hyperexcitability drives TDP43 pathology by upregulating shortened (s)TDP43 splice variants missing the canonical C-terminus. sTDP43 isoforms preferentially accumulate in the cytoplasm,forming insoluble inclusions that sequester full-length TDP43 via preserved N-terminal interactions. Consistent with these findings, sTDP43 overexpression is highly toxic to mammalian neurons, suggesting that neurodegeneration results from complementary gain- and loss-of-function mechanisms. In humans and mice, sTDP43 transcripts are significantly enriched in vulnerable motor neurons, and we observed a striking accumulation of sTDP43 protein within neurons and glia of ALS patients. These studies uncover a hitherto unknown role of alternative TDP43 splice isoforms in ALS, and indicate that sTDP43 production may be a key contributor to the susceptibility of motor neurons in ALS.
Kaitlin Weskamp, Elizabeth M. Tank, Roberto Miguez, Jonathon P. McBride, Nicolás B. Gómez, Matthew White, Ziqiang Lin, Carmen Moreno Gonzalez, Andrea Serio, Jemeen Sreedharan, Sami J. Barmada