Mutations in superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Recent evidence implicates adaptive responses to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in the disease process via a pathway known as the unfolded protein response (UPR). Here, we investigated the contribution to fALS of X-box-binding protein-1 (XBP-1), a key UPR transcription factor that regulates genes involved in protein folding and quality control. Despite expectations that XBP-1 deficiency would enhance the pathogenesis of mutant SOD1, we observed a dramatic decrease in its toxicity due to an enhanced clearance of mutant SOD1 aggregates by macroautophagy, a cellular pathway involved in lysosome-mediated protein degradation. To validate these observations in vivo, we generated mutant SOD1 transgenic mice with specific deletion of XBP-1 in the nervous system. XBP-1-deficient mice were more resistant to developing disease, correlating with increased levels of autophagy in motoneurons and reduced accumulation of mutant SOD1 aggregates in the spinal cord. Post-mortem spinal cord samples from patients with sporadic ALS and fALS displayed a marked activation of both the UPR and autophagy. Our results reveal a new function of XBP-1 in the control of autophagy and indicate critical cross-talk between these two signaling pathways that can provide protection against neurodegeneration.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Endoplasmic reticulum stress
- Unfolded protein response
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology