Expression of microRNAs in human post-mortem amyotrophic lateral sclerosis spinal cords provides insight into disease mechanisms

Mol Cell Neurosci. 2016 Mar;71:34-45. doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2015.12.008. Epub 2015 Dec 17.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a late-onset and terminal neurodegenerative disease. The majority of cases are sporadic with unknown causes and only a small number of cases are genetically linked. Recent evidence suggests that post-transcriptional regulation and epigenetic mechanisms, such as microRNAs, underlie the onset and progression of neurodegenerative disorders; therefore, altered microRNA expression may result in the dysregulation of key genes and biological pathways that contribute to the development of sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Using systems biology analyses on postmortem human spinal cord tissue, we identified dysregulated mature microRNAs and their potential targets previously implicated in functional process and pathways associated with the pathogenesis of ALS. Furthermore, we report a global reduction of mature microRNAs, alterations in microRNA processing, and support for a role of the nucleotide binding protein, TAR DNA binding protein 43, in regulating sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-associated microRNAs, thereby offering a potential underlying mechanism for sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Epigenetics; MicroRNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • TARDBP protein, human