Cell-to-Cell Transmission of Dipeptide Repeat Proteins Linked to C9orf72-ALS/FTD

Cell Rep. 2016 Oct 11;17(3):645-652. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.09.032.


Aberrant hexanucleotide repeat expansions in C9orf72 are the most common genetic change underlying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). RNA transcripts containing these expansions undergo repeat-associated non-ATG translation (RAN-T) to form five dipeptide repeat proteins (DPRs). DPRs are found as aggregates throughout the CNS of C9orf72-ALS/FTD patients, and some cause degeneration when expressed in vitro in neuronal cultures and in vivo in animal models. The spread of characteristic disease-related proteins drives the progression of pathology in many neurodegenerative diseases. While DPR toxic mechanisms continue to be investigated, the potential for DPRs to spread has yet to be determined. Using different experimental cell culture platforms, including spinal motor neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells from C9orf72-ALS patients, we found evidence for cell-to-cell spreading of DPRs via exosome-dependent and exosome-independent pathways, which may be relevant to disease.

Keywords: ALS; C9orf72; DPR; FTD; cell-to-cell transmission; dipeptide repeat proteins; exosomes; propagation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • C9orf72 Protein / metabolism*
  • Dipeptides / chemistry*
  • Dipeptides / metabolism
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Repetitive Sequences, Amino Acid*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology


  • C9orf72 Protein
  • C9orf72 protein, human
  • Dipeptides