Canine degenerative myelopathy: Biochemical characterization of superoxide dismutase 1 in the first naturally occurring non-human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis model

Crisp, M.J., Beckett, J., Coates, J.R. , Miller, T.M.; (2013) Experimental Neurology, 248, pp. 1-9. Read More


Mutations in canine superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) have recently been shown to cause canine degenerative myelopathy, a disabling neurodegenerative disorder affecting specific breeds of dogs characterized by progressive motor neuron loss and paralysis until death, or more common, euthanasia. This discovery makes canine degenerative myelopathy the first and only naturally occurring non-human model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), closely paralleling the clinical, pathological, and genetic presentation of its human counterpart, SOD1-mediated familial ALS. To further understand the biochemical role that canine SOD1 plays in this disease and how it may be similar to human SOD1, we characterized the only two SOD1 mutations described in affected dogs to date, E40K and T18S. We show that a detergent-insoluble species of mutant SOD1 is present in spinal cords of affected dogs that increases with disease progression. Our in vitro results indicate that both canine SOD1 mutants form enzymatically active dimers, arguing against a loss of function in affected homozygous animals. Further studies show that these mutants, like most human SOD1 mutants, have an increased propensity to form aggregates in cell culture, with 10-20% of cells possessing visible aggregates. Creation of the E40K mutation in human SOD1 recapitulates the normal enzymatic activity but not the aggregation propensity seen with the canine mutant. Our findings lend strong biochemical support to the toxic role of SOD1 in canine degenerative myelopathy and establish close parallels for the role mutant SOD1 plays in both canine and human disorders. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

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Posted on July 8, 2013
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