Axonal transport of mutant superoxide dismutase 1 and focal axonal abnormalities in the proximal axons of transgenic mice

Neurobiol Dis. 1998 Jul;5(1):27-35. doi: 10.1006/nbdi.1998.0178.


Superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), a ubiquitously expressed enzyme, detoxifies superoxide radicals and participates in copper homeostasis. Mutations in this enzyme have been linked to a subset of autosomal dominant cases of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS), a disorder characterized by selective degeneration of motor neurons. Transgenic mice expressing FALS mutant human (Hu) SOD1 at high levels develop a motor neuron disease, indicating that mutant Hu SOD1 gains properties that are particularly toxic to motor neurons. In this report, we demonstrate that transgenic mice expressing Hu SOD1 with the G37R FALS mutation, but not mice expressing wild-type enzyme, develop focal increases in immunoreactivity in the proximal axons of spinal motor neurons. This SOD1 immunoreactivity and immunoreactivity to hypophosphorylated neurofilament H epitopes are found adjacent to small vacuoles in axons. Using metabolic radiolabeling methods, we show that mutant G37R HuSOD1 as well as endogenous mouse SOD1 are transported anterograde in slow component b in motor and sensory axons of the sciatic nerve. Together, these findings suggest that anterogradely transported mutant SOD1 may act locally to damage motor axons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport / physiology*
  • Axons / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic / genetics
  • Mice, Transgenic / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / pathology
  • Mutation / physiology*
  • Neurofilament Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons, Afferent / pathology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Sciatic Nerve / metabolism
  • Sciatic Nerve / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism*
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1


  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • SOD1 protein, human
  • neurofilament protein H
  • Sod1 protein, mouse
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1