Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is caused by mutations in a number of genes, including the gene encoding the RNA/DNA-binding protein translocated in liposarcoma or fused in sarcoma (TLS/FUS or FUS). Previously, we identified a number of FUS target genes, among them MECP2. To investigate how ALS mutations in FUS might impact target gene expression, we examined the effects of several FUS derivatives harboring ALS mutations, such as R521C (FUSC), on MECP2 expression in transfected human U87 cells. Strikingly, FUSC and other mutants not only altered MECP2 alternative splicing but also markedly increased mRNA abundance, which we show resulted from sharply elevated stability. Paradoxically, however, MeCP2 protein levels were significantly reduced in cells expressing ALS mutant derivatives. Providing a parsimonious explanation for these results, biochemical fractionation and in vivo localization studies revealed that MECP2 mRNA colocalized with cytoplasmic FUSC in insoluble aggregates, which are characteristic of ALS mutant proteins. Together, our results establish that ALS mutations in FUS can strongly impact target gene expression, reflecting a dominant effect of FUS-containing aggregates.
Department of Biological Sciences
500 Fairchild Center
Mail Code 2401
1212 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027