Prion-like nuclear aggregation of TDP-43 during heat shock is regulated by HSP40/70 chaperones

Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Jan 1;23(1):157-70. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt408. Epub 2013 Aug 19.


TDP-43 aggregation in the cytoplasm or nucleus is a key feature of the pathology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia and is observed in numerous other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. Despite this fact, the inciting events leading to TDP-43 aggregation remain unclear. We observed that endogenous TDP-43 undergoes reversible aggregation in the nucleus after the heat shock and that this behavior is mediated by the C-terminal prion domain. Substitution of the prion domain from TIA-1 or an authentic yeast prion domain from RNQ1 into TDP-43 can completely recapitulate heat shock-induced aggregation. TDP-43 is constitutively bound to members of the Hsp40/Hsp70 family, and we found that heat shock-induced TDP-43 aggregation is mediated by the availability of these chaperones interacting with the inherently disordered C-terminal prion domain. Finally, we observed that the aggregation of TDP-43 during heat shock led to decreased binding to hnRNPA1, and a change in TDP-43 RNA-binding partners suggesting that TDP-43 aggregation alters its function in response to misfolded protein stress. These findings indicate that TDP-43 shares properties with physiologic prions from yeast, in that self-aggregation is mediated by a Q/N-rich disordered domain, is modulated by chaperone proteins and leads to altered function of the protein. Furthermore, they indicate that TDP-43 aggregation is regulated by chaperone availability, explaining the recurrent observation of TDP-43 aggregates in degenerative diseases of both the brain and muscle where protein homeostasis is disrupted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HSP40 Heat-Shock Proteins / physiology*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / physiology*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Heat-Shock Response
  • Heterogeneous Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein A1
  • Heterogeneous-Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein Group A-B / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Prions / chemistry*
  • Prions / metabolism
  • Protein Folding


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • HSP40 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Heterogeneous Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein A1
  • Heterogeneous-Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein Group A-B
  • Prions
  • hnRNPA1 protein, human