Motor neuron disease occurring in a mutant dynactin mouse model is characterized by defects in vesicular trafficking

Fiona M. Laird, Mohamed H. Farah, Steven Ackerley, Ahmet Hoke, Nicholas Maragakis, Jeffrey D. Rothstein, John Griffin, Donald L. Price, Lee J. Martin, Philip C. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal and progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by weakness, muscle atrophy, and spasticity, is the most common adult-onset motor neuron disease. Although the majority of ALS cases are sporadic, ∼5-10% are familial, including those linked to mutations in SOD1 (Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase). Missense mutations in a dynactin gene (DCTN1) encoding the p150Glued subunit of dynactin have been linked to both familial and sporadic ALS. To determine the molecular mechanism whereby mutant dynactin p150Glued causes selective degeneration of motor neurons, we generated and characterized mice expressing either wild-type or mutant human dynactin p150Glued. Neuronal expression of mutant, but not wild type, dynactin p150Glued causes motor neuron disease in these animals that are characterized by defects in vesicular transport in cell bodies of motor neurons, axonal swelling and axo-terminal degeneration. Importantly, we provide evidence that autophagic cell death is implicated in the pathogenesis of mutant p150Glued mice. This novel mouse model will be instrumental for not only clarifying disease mechanisms in ALS, but also for testing therapeutic strategies to ameliorate this devastating disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1997-2005
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - Feb 27 2008


  • ALS
  • Autophagy
  • Dynactin
  • Motor neuron disease model
  • Vesicular trafficking
  • p150

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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