Journal Article

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-associated mutant VAPBP56S perturbs calcium homeostasis to disrupt axonal transport of mitochondria

Gábor M. Mórotz, Kurt J. De Vos, Alessio Vagnoni, Steven Ackerley, Christopher E. Shaw and Christopher C.J. Miller

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 21, issue 9, pages 1979-1988
Published in print May 2012 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online January 2012 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI:

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A proline-to-serine substitution at position 56 in the gene encoding vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein B (VAPB; VAPBP56S) causes some dominantly inherited familial forms of motor neuron disease, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) type-8. Here, we show that expression of ALS mutant VAPBP56S but not wild-type VAPB in neurons selectively disrupts anterograde axonal transport of mitochondria. VAPBP56S-induced disruption of mitochondrial transport involved reductions in the frequency, velocity and persistence of anterograde mitochondrial movement. Anterograde axonal transport of mitochondria is mediated by the microtubule-based molecular motor kinesin-1. Attachment of kinesin-1 to mitochondria involves the outer mitochondrial membrane protein mitochondrial Rho GTPase-1 (Miro1) which acts as a sensor for cytosolic calcium levels ([Ca2+]c); elevated [Ca2+]c disrupts mitochondrial transport via an effect on Miro1. To gain insight into the mechanisms underlying the VAPBP56S effect on mitochondrial transport, we monitored [Ca2+]c levels in VAPBP56S-expressing neurons. Expression of VAPBP56S but not VAPB increased resting [Ca2+]c and this was associated with a reduction in the amounts of tubulin but not kinesin-1 that were associated with Miro1. Moreover, expression of a Ca2+ insensitive mutant of Miro1 rescued defective mitochondrial axonal transport and restored the amounts of tubulin associated with the Miro1/kinesin-1 complex to normal in VAPBP56S-expressing cells. Our results suggest that ALS mutant VAPBP56S perturbs anterograde mitochondrial axonal transport by disrupting Ca2+ homeostasis and effecting the Miro1/kinesin-1 interaction with tubulin.

Journal Article.  5504 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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