Potential effect of S-nitrosylated protein disulfide isomerase on mutant SOD1 aggregation and neuronal cell death in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Mol Neurobiol. 2014 Apr;49(2):796-807. doi: 10.1007/s12035-013-8562-z. Epub 2013 Oct 4.


Aggregation of misfolded protein and resultant intracellular inclusion body formation are common hallmarks of mutant superoxide dismutase (mSOD1)-linked familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) and have been associated with the selective neuronal death. Protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) represents a family of enzymatic chaperones that can fold nascent and aberrant proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) lumen. Recently, our group found that S-nitrosylated PDI could contribute to protein misfolding and subsequent neuronal cell death. However, the exact role of PDI in the pathogenesis of ALS remains unclear. In this study, we propose that PDI attenuates aggregation of mutant/misfolded SOD1 and resultant neurotoxicity associated with ER stress. ER stress resulting in PDI dysfunction therefore provides a mechanistic link between deficits in molecular chaperones, accumulation of misfolded proteins, and neuronal death in neurodegenerative diseases. In contrast, S-nitrosylation of PDI inhibits its activity, increases mSOD1 aggregation, and increases neuronal cell death. Specifically, our data show that S-nitrosylation abrogates PDI-mediated attenuation of neuronal cell death triggered by thapsigargin. Biotin switch assays demonstrate S-nitrosylated PDI both in the spinal cords of SOD1 (G93A) mice and human patients with sporadic ALS. Therefore, denitrosylation of PDI may have therapeutic implications. Taken together, our results suggest a novel strategy involving PDI as a therapy to prevent mSOD1 aggregation and neuronal degeneration. Moreover, the data demonstrate that inactivation of PDI by S-nitrosylation occurs in both mSOD1-linked and sporadic forms of ALS in humans as well as mice.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / enzymology*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / genetics
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Female
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation / physiology*
  • Neurons / enzymology*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Protein Disulfide-Isomerases / biosynthesis*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism*
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1


  • SOD1 protein, human
  • Sod1 protein, mouse
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1
  • Protein Disulfide-Isomerases