Abnormal mitochondrial transport and morphology are common pathological denominators in SOD1 and TDP43 ALS mouse models

Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Mar 15;23(6):1413-24. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt528. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


Neuronal mitochondrial morphology abnormalities occur in models of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) associated with SOD1 and TDP43 mutations. These abnormalities have been linked to mitochondrial axonal transport defects, but the temporal and spatial relationship between mitochondrial morphology and transport alterations in these two distinct genetic forms of ALS has not been investigated in vivo. To address this question, we crossed SOD1 (wild-type SOD1(WT) and mutant SOD1(G93A)) or TDP43 (mutant TDP43(A315T)) transgenic mice with mice expressing the fluorescent protein Dendra targeted to mitochondria in neurons (mitoDendra). At different time points during the disease course, we studied mitochondrial transport in the intact sciatic nerve of living mice and analyzed axonal mitochondrial morphology at multiple sites, spanning from the spinal cord to the motor terminals. Defects of retrograde mitochondrial transport were detected at 45 days of age, before the onset of symptoms, in SOD1(G93A) and TDP43(A315T) mice, but not in SOD1(WT). At later disease stages, also anterograde mitochondrial transport was affected in both mutant mouse lines. In SOD1(G93A) mice, mitochondrial morphological abnormalities were apparent at 15 days of age, thus preceding transport abnormalities. Conversely, in TDP43(A315T) mice, morphological abnormalities appeared after the onset of transport defects. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that neuronal mitochondrial transport and morphology abnormalities occur in vivo and that they are common denominators of different genetic forms of the ALS. At the same time, differences in the temporal and spatial manifestation of mitochondrial abnormalities between the two mouse models of familial ALS imply that different molecular mechanisms may be involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mitochondria / pathology*
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiopathology*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • SOD1 protein, human
  • TDP-43 protein, mouse
  • Sod1 protein, mouse
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1