Therapeutic genetic variation revealed in diverse Hsp104 homologs

Zachary M. March, Katelyn Sweeney, Hanna Kim, Xiaohui Yan, Laura M. Castellano, Meredith E. Jackrel, Jiabei Lin, Edward Chuang, Edward Gomes, Corey W. Willicott, Karolina Michalska, Robert P. Jedrzejczak, Andrzej Joachimiak, Kim A. Caldwell, Guy A. Caldwell, Ophir Shalem, James Shorter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The AAA+ protein disaggregase, Hsp104, increases fitness under stress by reversing stress-induced protein aggregation. Natural Hsp104 variants might exist with enhanced, selective activity against neurodegenerative disease substrates. However, natural Hsp104 variation remains largely unexplored. Here, we screened a cross-kingdom collection of Hsp104 homologs in yeast proteotoxicity models. Prokaryotic ClpG reduced TDP-43, FUS, and a-synuclein toxicity, whereas prokaryotic ClpB and hyperactive variants were ineffective. We uncovered therapeutic genetic variation among eukaryotic Hsp104 homologs that specifically antagonized TDP-43 condensation and toxicity in yeast and TDP-43 aggregation in human cells. We also uncovered distinct eukaryotic Hsp104 homologs that selectively antagonized a-synuclein condensation and toxicity in yeast and dopaminergic neurodegeneration in C. elegans. Surprisingly, this therapeutic variation did not manifest as enhanced disaggregase activity, but rather as increased passive inhibition of aggregation of specific substrates. By exploring natural tuning of this passive Hsp104 activity, we elucidated enhanced, substrate-specific agents that counter proteotoxicity underlying neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57457
Pages (from-to)1-52
Number of pages52
StatePublished - Dec 2020


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