Impaired proteasome function in sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2012 Jun;13(4):367-71. doi: 10.3109/17482968.2012.686511.


Abstract The ubiquitin-proteasome system, important for maintaining protein quality control, is compromised in experimental models of familial ALS. The objective of this study was to determine if proteasome function is impaired in sporadic ALS. Proteasomal activities and subunit composition were evaluated in homogenates of spinal cord samples obtained at autopsy from sporadic ALS and non-neurological control cases, compared to cerebellum as a clinically spared tissue. The level of 20S α structural proteasome subunits was assessed in motor neurons by immunohistochemistry. Catalysis of peptide substrates of the three major proteasomal activities was substantially reduced in ALS thoracic spinal cord, but not in cerebellum, accompanied by alterations in the constitutive proteasome machinery. Chymotrypsin-like activity was decreased to 60% and 65% of control in ventral and dorsal spinal cord, respectively, concomitant with reduction in the β5 subunit with this catalytic activity. Caspase- and trypsin-like activities were reduced to a similar extent (46% - 68% of control). Proteasome levels, although generally maintained, appeared reduced specifically in motor neurons by immunolabelling. In conclusion, there are commonalities of findings in sporadic ALS patients and presymptomatic SOD1-G93A transgenic mice and these implicate inadequate proteasome function in the pathogenesis of both familial and sporadic ALS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebellum / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism*
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism*
  • Protein Folding
  • Proteolysis
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics


  • SOD1 G93A protein
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex