Our staff editors continue to share exciting, interesting, and thought-provoking reading material in the recommended articles series.
This week, we would like to continue sharing several highly cited articles on neurodegenerative diseases in 2021.
Title: Ubiquitin signalling in neurodegeneration: mechanisms and therapeutic opportunities
Authors: Marlene F. Schmidt, Zhong Yan Gan, David Komander, Grant Dewson
Type: Review Article of Cell Death & Differentiation
Neurodegenerative diseases are characterised by progressive damage to the nervous system including the selective loss of vulnerable populations of neurons leading to motor symptoms and cognitive decline. Despite millions of people being affected worldwide, there are still no drugs that block the neurodegenerative process to stop or slow disease progression. Neuronal death in these diseases is often linked to the misfolded proteins that aggregate within the brain (proteinopathies) as a result of disease-related gene mutations or abnormal protein homoeostasis. There are two major degradation pathways to rid a cell of unwanted or misfolded proteins to prevent their accumulation and to maintain the health of a cell: the ubiquitin–proteasome system and the autophagy–lysosomal pathway. Both of these degradative pathways depend on the modification of targets with ubiquitin. Aging is the primary risk factor of most neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. With aging there is a general reduction in proteasomal degradation and autophagy, and a consequent increase of potentially neurotoxic protein aggregates of β-amyloid, tau, α-synuclein, SOD1 and TDP-43. An often over-looked yet major component of these aggregates is ubiquitin, implicating these protein aggregates as either an adaptive response to toxic misfolded proteins or as evidence of dysregulated ubiquitin-mediated degradation driving toxic aggregation. In addition, non-degradative ubiquitin signalling is critical for homoeostatic mechanisms fundamental for neuronal function and survival, including mitochondrial homoeostasis, receptor trafficking and DNA damage responses, whilst also playing a role in inflammatory processes. This review will discuss the current understanding of the role of ubiquitin-dependent processes in the progressive loss of neurons and the emergence of ubiquitin signalling as a target for the development of much needed new drugs to treat neurodegenerative disease.
Access this article: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41418-020-00706-7
Title: Ferroptosis: mechanisms and links with diseases
Authors: Hong-fa Yan, Ting Zou, Qing-zhang Tuo, Shuo Xu, Hua Li, Abdel Ali Belaidi, Peng Lei
Type: Review Article of Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy
Ferroptosis is an iron-dependent cell death, which is different from apoptosis, necrosis, autophagy, and other forms of cell death. The process of ferroptotic cell death is defined by the accumulation of lethal lipid species derived from the peroxidation of lipids, which can be prevented by iron chelators (e.g., deferiprone, deferoxamine) and small lipophilic antioxidants (e.g., ferrostatin, liproxstatin). This review summarizes current knowledge about the regulatory mechanism of ferroptosis and its association with several pathways, including iron, lipid, and cysteine metabolism. We have further discussed the contribution of ferroptosis to the pathogenesis of several diseases such as cancer, ischemia/reperfusion, and various neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease), and evaluated the therapeutic applications of ferroptosis inhibitors in clinics.
Access this article: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41392-020-00428-9
Title: Periphery and brain, innate and adaptive immunity in Parkinson’s disease
Authors: Ashley S. Harms, Sara A. Ferreira, Marina Romero-Ramos
Type: Review of Acta Neuropathologica
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder where alpha-synuclein plays a central role in the death and dysfunction of neurons, both, in central, as well as in the peripheral nervous system. Besides the neuronal events observed in patients, PD also includes a significant immune component. It is suggested that the PD-associated immune response will have consequences on neuronal health, thus opening immunomodulation as a potential therapeutic strategy in PD. The immune changes during the disease occur in the brain, involving microglia, but also in the periphery with changes in cells of the innate immune system, particularly monocytes, as well as those of adaptive immunity, such as T-cells. This realization arises from multiple patient studies, but also from data in animal models of the disease, providing strong evidence for innate and adaptive immune system crosstalk in the central nervous system and periphery in PD. Here we review the data showing that alpha-synuclein plays a crucial role in the activation of the innate and adaptive immune system. We will also describe the studies suggesting that inflammation in PD includes early changes in innate and adaptive immune cells that develop dynamically through time during disease, contributing to neuronal degeneration and symptomatology in patients. This novel finding has contributed to the definition of PD as a multisystem disease that should be approached in a more integratory manner rather than a brain-focused classical approach.
Access this article: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00401-021-02268-5
Title: TDP-43 proteinopathies: a new wave of neurodegenerative diseases
Authors: Eva Maria Johanna de Boer, Viyanti K Orie, Timothy Williams, Mark R Baker, Hugo M De Oliveira, Tuomo Polvikoski, Matthew Silsby, Parvathi Menon, Mehdi van den Bos, Glenda M Halliday, Leonard H van den Berg, Ludo Van Den Bosch, Philip van Damme, Matthew C Kiernan, Michael A van Es, Steve Vucic
Type: Review of Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Inclusions of pathogenic deposits containing TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) are evident in the brain and spinal cord of patients that present across a spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases. For instance, the majority of patients with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (up to 97%) and a substantial proportion of patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (~45%) exhibit TDP-43 positive neuronal inclusions, suggesting a role for this protein in disease pathogenesis. In addition, TDP-43 inclusions are evident in familial ALS phenotypes linked to multiple gene mutations including the TDP-43 gene coding (TARDBP) and unrelated genes (eg, C9orf72). While TDP-43 is an essential RNA/DNA binding protein critical for RNA-related metabolism, determining the pathophysiological mechanisms through which TDP-43 mediates neurodegeneration appears complex, and unravelling these molecular processes seems critical for the development of effective therapies. This review highlights the key physiological functions of the TDP-43 protein, while considering an expanding spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases associated with pathogenic TDP-43 deposition, and dissecting key molecular pathways through which TDP-43 may mediate neurodegeneration.
Access this article: https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/92/1/86
Title: Molecular mechanisms and physiological functions of mitophagy
Authors: Mashun Onishi, Koji Yamano, Miyuki Sato, Noriyuki Matsuda, Koji Okamoto
Type: Review of The EMBO Journal
Degradation of mitochondria via a selective form of autophagy, named mitophagy, is a fundamental mechanism conserved from yeast to humans that regulates mitochondrial quality and quantity control. Mitophagy is promoted via specific mitochondrial outer membrane receptors, or ubiquitin molecules conjugated to proteins on the mitochondrial surface leading to the formation of autophagosomes surrounding mitochondria. Mitophagy-mediated elimination of mitochondria plays an important role in many processes including early embryonic development, cell differentiation, inflammation, and apoptosis. Recent advances in analyzing mitophagy in vivo also reveal high rates of steady-state mitochondrial turnover in diverse cell types, highlighting the intracellular housekeeping role of mitophagy. Defects in mitophagy are associated with various pathological conditions such as neurodegeneration, heart failure, cancer, and aging, further underscoring the biological relevance. Here, we review our current molecular understanding of mitophagy, and its physiological implications, and discuss how multiple mitophagy pathways coordinately modulate mitochondrial fitness and populations.
Access this article: https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2020104705