Fibrillar protein aggregates are the major pathological hallmark of several incurable, age-related, neurodegenerative disorders. These aggregates typically contain aggregation-prone pathogenic proteins, such as amyloid-beta in Alzheimer's disease and alpha-synuclein in Parkinson's disease. It is, however, poorly understood how these aggregates are formed during cellular aging. Here we identify an evolutionarily highly conserved modifier of aggregation, MOAG-4, as a positive regulator of aggregate formation in C. elegans models for polyglutamine diseases. Inactivation of MOAG-4 suppresses the formation of compact polyglutamine aggregation intermediates that are required for aggregate formation. The role of MOAG-4 in driving aggregation extends to amyloid-beta and alpha-synuclein and is evolutionarily conserved in its human orthologs SERF1A and SERF2. MOAG-4/SERF appears to act independently from HSF-1-induced molecular chaperones, proteasomal degradation, and autophagy. Our results suggest that MOAG-4/SERF regulates age-related proteotoxicity through a previously unexplored pathway, which will open up new avenues for research on age-related, neurodegenerative diseases.
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