Mechanical force of uterine occupation enables large vesicle extrusion from proteostressed maternal neurons

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Nov 16:2023.11.13.565361. doi: 10.1101/2023.11.13.565361.


Large vesicle extrusion from neurons may contribute to spreading pathogenic protein aggregates and promoting inflammatory responses, two mechanisms leading to neurodegenerative disease. Factors that regulate extrusion of large vesicles, such as exophers produced by proteostressed C. elegans touch neurons, are poorly understood. Here we document that mechanical force can significantly potentiate exopher extrusion from proteostressed neurons. Exopher production from the C. elegans ALMR neuron peaks at adult day 2 or 3, coinciding with the C. elegans reproductive peak. Genetic disruption of C. elegans germline, sperm, oocytes, or egg/early embryo production can strongly suppress exopher extrusion from the ALMR neurons during the peak period. Conversely, restoring egg production at the late reproductive phase through mating with males or inducing egg retention via genetic interventions that block egg-laying can strongly increase ALMR exopher production. Overall, genetic interventions that promote ALMR exopher production are associated with expanded uterus lengths and genetic interventions that suppress ALMR exopher production are associated with shorter uterus lengths. In addition to the impact of fertilized eggs, ALMR exopher production can be enhanced by filling the uterus with oocytes, dead eggs, or even fluid, supporting that distention consequences, rather than the presence of fertilized eggs, constitute the exopher-inducing stimulus. We conclude that the mechanical force of uterine occupation potentiates exopher extrusion from proximal proteostressed maternal neurons. Our observations draw attention to the potential importance of mechanical signaling in extracellular vesicle production and in aggregate spreading mechanisms, making a case for enhanced attention to mechanobiology in neurodegenerative disease.

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