RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) with prion-like domains (PrLDs) phase transition to functional liquids, which can mature into aberrant hydrogels composed of pathological fibrils that underpin fatal neurodegenerative disorders. Several nuclear RBPs with PrLDs, including TDP-43, FUS, hnRNPA1, and hnRNPA2, mislocalize to cytoplasmic inclusions in neurodegenerative disorders, and mutations in their PrLDs can accelerate fibrillization and cause disease. Here, we establish that nuclear-import receptors (NIRs) specifically chaperone and potently disaggregate wild-type and disease-linked RBPs bearing a NLS. Karyopherin-β2 (also called Transportin-1) engages PY-NLSs to inhibit and reverse FUS, TAF15, EWSR1, hnRNPA1, and hnRNPA2 fibrillization, whereas Importin-α plus Karyopherin-β1 prevent and reverse TDP-43 fibrillization. Remarkably, Karyopherin-β2 dissolves phase-separated liquids and aberrant fibrillar hydrogels formed by FUS and hnRNPA1. In vivo, Karyopherin-β2 prevents RBPs with PY-NLSs accumulating in stress granules, restores nuclear RBP localization and function, and rescues degeneration caused by disease-linked FUS and hnRNPA2. Thus, NIRs therapeutically restore RBP homeostasis and mitigate neurodegeneration.
Keywords: ALS; FTD; FUS; Karyopherin-β2; Nuclear-important receptor; TDP-43; disaggregase; hnRNPA1; neurodegeneration; phase transition.
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