C9orf72 polyPR directly binds to various nuclear transport components

Elife. 2024 Mar 14:12:RP89694. doi: 10.7554/eLife.89694.


The disruption of nucleocytoplasmic transport (NCT) is an important mechanism in neurodegenerative diseases. In the case of C9orf72-ALS, trafficking of macromolecules through the nuclear pore complex (NPC) might get frustrated by the binding of C9orf72-translated arginine-containing dipeptide repeat proteins (R-DPRs) to the Kapβ family of nuclear transport receptors. Besides Kapβs, several other types of transport components have been linked to NCT impairments in R-DPR-expressed cells, but the molecular origin of these observations has not been clarified. Here, we adopt a coarse-grained molecular dynamics model at amino acid resolution to study the direct interaction between polyPR, the most toxic DPR, and various nuclear transport components to elucidate the binding mechanisms and provide a complete picture of potential polyPR-mediated NCT defects. We found polyPR to directly bind to several isoforms of the Impα family, CAS (the specific exporter of Impα) and RanGAP. We observe no binding between polyPR and Ran. Longer polyPRs at lower salt concentrations also make contact with RanGEF and NTF2. Analyzing the polyPR contact sites on the transport components reveals that polyPR potentially interferes with RanGTP/RanGDP binding, with nuclear localization signal (NLS)-containing cargoes (cargo-NLS) binding to Impα, with cargo-NLS release from Impα, and with Impα export from the nucleus. The abundance of polyPR-binding sites on multiple transport components combined with the inherent polyPR length dependence makes direct polyPR interference of NCT a potential mechanistic pathway of C9orf72 toxicity.

Keywords: ALS/FTD; C9orf72; importins/exportins; molecular dynamics; neuroscience; none; nuclear pore complex; nucleocytoplasmic transport; physics of living systems.

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus
  • Amino Acids*
  • Arginine
  • C9orf72 Protein / genetics
  • Nuclear Localization Signals*


  • C9orf72 Protein
  • Nuclear Localization Signals
  • Amino Acids
  • Arginine

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.f7m0cfz46