The recent identification of profilin1 mutations in 25 familial ALS cases has linked altered function of this cytoskeleton-regulating protein to the pathogenesis of motor neuron disease. To investigate the pathological role of mutant profilin1 in motor neuron disease, we generated transgenic lines of mice expressing human profilin1 with a mutation at position 118 (hPFN1G118V). One of the mouse lines expressing high levels of mutant human PFN1 protein in the brain and spinal cord exhibited many key clinical and pathological features consistent with human ALS disease. These include loss of lower (ventral horn) and upper motor neurons (corticospinal motor neurons in layer V), mutant profilin1 aggregation, abnormally ubiquitinated proteins, reduced choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) enzyme expression, fragmented mitochondria, glial cell activation, muscle atrophy, weight loss, and reduced survival. Our investigations of actin dynamics and axonal integrity suggest that mutant PFN1 protein is associated with an abnormally low filamentous/globular (F/G)-actin ratio that may be the underlying cause of severe damage to ventral root axons resulting in a Wallerian-like degeneration. These observations indicate that our novel profilin1 mutant mouse line may provide a new ALS model with the opportunity to gain unique perspectives into mechanisms of neurodegeneration that contribute to ALS pathogenesis.
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press.