Axonal TDP-43 condensates drive neuromuscular junction disruption through inhibition of local synthesis of nuclear encoded mitochondrial proteins.
Altman T., Ionescu A., Ibraheem A., Priesmann D., Gradus-Pery T., Farberov L., Alexandra G., Shelestovich N., Dafinca R., Shomron N., Rage F., Talbot K., Ward ME., Dori A., Krüger M., Perlson E.
Mislocalization of the predominantly nuclear RNA/DNA binding protein, TDP-43, occurs in motor neurons of ~95% of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients, but the contribution of axonal TDP-43 to this neurodegenerative disease is unclear. Here, we show TDP-43 accumulation in intra-muscular nerves from ALS patients and in axons of human iPSC-derived motor neurons of ALS patient, as well as in motor neurons and neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) of a TDP-43 mislocalization mouse model. In axons, TDP-43 is hyper-phosphorylated and promotes G3BP1-positive ribonucleoprotein (RNP) condensate assembly, consequently inhibiting local protein synthesis in distal axons and NMJs. Specifically, the axonal and synaptic levels of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins are reduced. Clearance of axonal TDP-43 or dissociation of G3BP1 condensates restored local translation and resolved TDP-43-derived toxicity in both axons and NMJs. These findings support an axonal gain of function of TDP-43 in ALS, which can be targeted for therapeutic development.