Superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) proteins harboring mutations linked to familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) uniformly show heightened potential to form high molecular weight structures. Here, we examine the domains of SOD1 that are involved in forming these structures (aggregates) and study the role of intra- and intermolecular disulfide bonds. An analysis of disease mutations identified to date reveals a non-random distribution with predominant occurrence at residues within highly conserved β-strands or at highly conserved residues in loop domains. Using a cell transfection assay for aggregation, we determined that no single domain in SOD1 is indispensable in the formation of sedimentable aggregates, suggesting multiple potential motifs in the protein mediate non-native interactions. By a cell-free aggregation assay, analysis of transgenic mouse tissues, and mutagenesis approaches, we found evidence that redox conditions may modulate SOD1 aggregation; reduction of the native intramolecular disulfide bonds may predispose SOD1 to unfolding and aggregation, whereas non-native intermolecular disulfide linkages may help stabilize aggregates in vivo. The results suggest a possible mechanism for diversity in the structures formed by different SOD1 mutants, and define a potential contribution of redox conditions to SOD1 aggregation.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Motor neuron disease
- Protein misfolding
- Transgenic mouse models
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience