Scientific publications

Fine tuning of the unfolded protein response by ISRIB improves neuronal survival in a model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

May 26, 2020 | Magazine: Cell Death & Disease

Ricardo Bugallo, Elías Marlin, Ana Baltanás, Estefanía Toledo, Roberto Ferrero, Rodrigo Vinueza-Gavilanes, Laura Larrea, Montserrat Arrasate, Tomás Aragón


Abstract

Loss of protein folding homeostasis features many of the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorders. As coping mechanism to folding stress within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), the unfolded protein response (UPR) comprises a set of signaling mechanisms that initiate a gene expression program to restore proteostasis, or when stress is chronic or overwhelming promote neuronal death. This fate-defining capacity of the UPR has been proposed to play a key role in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

However, the several genetic or pharmacological attempts to explore the therapeutic potential of UPR modulation have produced conflicting observations. In order to establish the precise relationship between UPR signaling and neuronal death in ALS, we have developed a neuronal model where the toxicity of a familial ALS-causing allele (mutant G93A SOD1) and UPR activation can be longitudinally monitored in single neurons over the process of neurodegeneration by automated microscopy. Using fluorescent UPR reporters we established the temporal and causal relationship between UPR and neuronal death by Cox regression models.

Pharmacological inhibition of discrete UPR processes allowed us to establish the contribution of PERK (PKR-like ER kinase) and IRE1 (inositol-requiring enzyme-1) mechanisms to neuronal fate. Importantly, inhibition of PERK signaling with its downstream inhibitor ISRIB, but not with the direct PERK kinase inhibitor GSK2606414, significantly enhanced the survival of G93A SOD1-expressing neurons.

Characterization of the inhibitory properties of both drugs under ER stress revealed that in neurons (but not in glial cells) ISRIB overruled only part of the translational program imposed by PERK, relieving the general inhibition of translation, but maintaining the privileged translation of ATF4 (activating transcription factor 4) messenger RNA. Surprisingly, the fine-tuning of the PERK output in G93A SOD1-expressing neurons led to a reduction of IRE1-dependent signaling. Together, our findings identify ISRIB-mediated translational reprogramming as a new potential ALS therapy.

CITATION  Cell Death Dis. 2020 May 26;11(5):397. doi: 10.1038/s41419-020-2601-2.

Our authors

Ricardo Bugallo Delgado
Rodrigo Vinueza Gavilanes
Dr. Montserrat Arrasate Iragui
Dr. Tomás Aragón Amonárriz