Transgenic mice that model familial (f)ALS, caused by mutations in superoxide dismutase (SOD)1, develop paralysis with pathology that includes the accumulation of aggregated forms of the mutant protein. Using a highly sensitive detergent extraction assay, we traced the appearance and abundance of detergent-insoluble and disulfide cross-linked aggregates of SOD1 throughout the disease course of SOD1-fALS mice (G93A, G37R, and H46R/H48Q). We demonstrate that the accumulation of disulfide cross-linked, detergent-insoluble, aggregates of mutant SOD1 occurs primarily in the later stages of the disease, concurrent with the appearance of rapidly progressing symptoms. We find no evidence for a model in which aberrant intermolecular disulfide bonding has an important role in promoting the aggregation of mutant SOD1, instead, such cross-linking appears to be a secondary event. Also, using both cell culture and mouse models, we find that mutant protein lacking the normal intramolecular disulfide bond is a major component of the insoluble SOD1 aggregates. Overall, our findings suggest a model in which soluble forms of mutant SOD1 initiate disease with larger aggregates implicated only in rapidly progressing events in the final stages of disease. Within the final stages of disease, abnormalities in the oxidation of a normal intramolecular disulfide bond in mutant SOD1 facilitate the aggregation of mutant protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7774-7779
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 12 2009


  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Protein misfolding


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