Molecular signature of late-stage human ALS revealed by expression profiling of postmortem spinal cord gray matter

Physiol Genomics. 2004 Jan 15;16(2):229-39. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00087.2001.


Little is known about global gene expression patterns in the human neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). To address this, we used high-density oligonucleotide microarray technology to compare expression levels of approximately 6,800 genes in postmortem spinal cord gray matter obtained from individuals with ALS as well as normal individuals. Using Fisher discriminant analysis (FDA) and leave-one-out cross-validation (LOOCV), we discerned an ALS-specific signature. Moreover, it was possible to distinguish familial ALS (FALS) from sporadic ALS (SALS) gene expression profiles. Characterization of the specific genes significantly altered in ALS uncovered a pro-inflammatory terminal state. Moreover, we found alterations in genes involved in mitochondrial function, oxidative stress, excitotoxicity, apoptosis, cytoskeletal architecture, RNA transcription and translation, proteasomal function, and growth and signaling. It is apparent from this study that DNA microarray analysis and appropriate bioinformatics can reveal distinct phenotypic changes that underlie the terminal stages of neurodegeneration in ALS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / genetics*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex