Cellular homeostasis relies on a tight control of protein synthesis, folding and degradation, in which the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) quality control and the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) have an instrumental function. ER stress and aberrant accumulation of misfolded proteins represent a pathological signature of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal paralytic disorder caused by the selective degeneration of motoneurons in the brain and spinal cord. Mutations in the ER-resident protein VAPB have been associated with familial forms of the disease. ALS-linked mutations cause VAPB to form cytoplasmic aggregates. We previously demonstrated that viral-mediated expression of both wildtype and mutant human VAPB (hVAPB) leads to an ER stress response that contributes to the selective death of motoneurons. However, the mechanisms behind ER stress, defective UPS and hVAPB-associated motoneuron degeneration remain elusive. Here, we show that the overexpression of wildtype and mutated hVAPB, which is found to be less stable than the wildtype protein, leads to the abnormal accumulation of ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like protein conjugates in non-human primate cells. We observed that overexpression of both forms of hVAPB elicited an ER stress response. Treatment of wildtype and mutated hVAPB expressing cells with the ER stress inhibitor salubrinal diminished the burden of ubiquitinated proteins, suggesting that ER stress contributes to the impairment of proteasome function. We also found that both wildtype and mutated hVAPB can associate with the 20S proteasome, which was found to accumulate at the ER with wildtype hVAPB or in mutant hVAPB aggregates. Our results suggest that ER stress and corruption of the proteasome function might contribute to the aberrant protein homeostasis associated with hVAPB. © 2011 Moumen et al.
Moumen, A., Virard, I., & Raoul, C. (2011). Accumulation of wildtype and ALS-linked mutated VAPB impairs activity of the proteasome. PLoS ONE, 6(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0026066