RNA dysregulation is a newly recognized disease mechanism in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here we identify Drosophila fragile X mental retardation protein (dFMRP) as a robust genetic modifier of TDP-43-dependent toxicity in a Drosophila model of ALS. We find that dFMRP overexpression (dFMRP OE) mitigates TDP-43 dependent locomotor defects and reduced lifespan in Drosophila. TDP-43 and FMRP form a complex in flies and human cells. In motor neurons, TDP-43 expression increases the association of dFMRP with stress granules and colocalizes with polyA binding protein in a variant-dependent manner. Furthermore, dFMRP dosage modulates TDP-43 solubility and molecular mobility with overexpression of dFMRP resulting in a significant reduction of TDP-43 in the aggregate fraction. Polysome fractionation experiments indicate that dFMRP OE also relieves the translation inhibition of futsch mRNA, a TDP-43 target mRNA, which regulates neuromuscular synapse architecture. Restoration of futsch translation by dFMRP OE mitigates Futsch-dependent morphological phenotypes at the neuromuscular junction including synaptic size and presence of satellite boutons. Our data suggest a model whereby dFMRP is neuroprotective by remodeling TDP-43 containing RNA granules, reducing aggregation and restoring the translation of specific mRNAs in motor neurons.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: email@example.com.