ALS-linked FUS mutations confer loss and gain of function in the nucleus by promoting excessive formation of dysfunctional paraspeckles

Haiyan An, Lucy Skelt, Antonietta Notaro, J. Robin Highley, Archa H. Fox, Vincenzo La Bella, Vladimir L. Buchman, Tatyana A. Shelkovnikova

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Mutations in the FUS gene cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS-FUS). Mutant FUS is known to confer cytoplasmic gain of function but its effects in the nucleus are less understood. FUS is an essential component of paraspeckles, subnuclear bodies assembled on a lncRNA NEAT1. Paraspeckles may play a protective role specifically in degenerating spinal motor neurons. However it is still unknown how endogenous levels of mutant FUS would affect NEAT1/paraspeckles. Using novel cell lines with the FUS gene modified by CRISPR/Cas9 and human patient fibroblasts, we found that endogenous levels of mutant FUS cause accumulation of NEAT1 isoforms and paraspeckles. However, despite only mild cytoplasmic mislocalisation of FUS, paraspeckle integrity is compromised in these cells, as confirmed by reduced interaction of mutant FUS with core paraspeckle proteins NONO and SFPQ and increased NEAT1 extractability. This results in NEAT1 localisation outside paraspeckles, especially prominent under conditions of paraspeckle-inducing stress. Consistently, paraspeckle-dependent microRNA production, a readout for functionality of paraspeckles, is impaired in cells expressing mutant FUS. In line with the cellular data, we observed paraspeckle hyper-assembly in spinal neurons of ALS-FUS patients. Therefore, despite largely preserving its nuclear localisation, mutant FUS leads to loss (dysfunctional paraspeckles) and gain (excess of free NEAT1) of function in the nucleus. Perturbed fine structure and functionality of paraspeckles accompanied by accumulation of non-paraspeckle NEAT1 may contribute to the disease severity in ALS-FUS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Number of pages14
JournalActa Neuropathologica Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2019


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