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Loss of endosomal recycling factor RAB11 coupled with complex regulation of MAPK/ERK/AKT signaling in postmortem spinal cord specimens of sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients

  • Mitra, Joy1
  • Hegde, Pavana M.1
  • Hegde, Muralidhar L.1, 2, 3
  • 1 Department of Radiation Oncology, Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, TX, 77030, USA , Houston (United States)
  • 2 Weill Medical College, New York, NY, 10065, USA , New York (United States)
  • 3 Houston Methodist Neurological Institute, Institute of Academic Medicine, Houston Methodist, Houston, TX, 77030, USA , Houston (United States)
Published Article
Molecular Brain
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Jun 13, 2019
DOI: 10.1186/s13041-019-0475-y
Springer Nature


Synaptic abnormalities, perturbed endosomal recycling mediated by loss of the small GTPase RAB11, and neuroinflammatory signaling have been associated with multiple neurodegenerative diseases including the motor neuron disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This is consistent with the neuroprotective effect of RAB11 overexpression as well as of anti-inflammatory compounds. However, most studies were in animal models, and this phenomenon has not been demonstrated in human patients. Moreover, crosstalk between endosomal trafficking and inflammatory signaling pathways in ALS remains enigmatic. Here, we investigated RAB11 expression and MAPK/ERK/AKT signaling in 10 post-mortem spinal cord specimens from patients with sporadic ALS and age-matched controls. All 10 ALS patients showed TDP-43 pathology, whereas two specimens showed an overlapping FUS pathology and one had an acquired Q331K mutation in TDP-43. There was consistent RAB11 downregulation in all ALS cases, while p-AKT and phospho-ribosomal S6 kinase (p-p90RSK) were upregulated. Furthermore, competition between AKT and ERK pathways was observed in ALS, suggesting subtle differences among the TDP-43-ALS subtypes, which may influence patient therapeutic responses. Our findings demonstrate a complex regulation/perturbation pattern of signaling cascades involving MAPK/AKT/RAB11 in spinal cord tissue from ALS patients. These results underscore the relationships between ALS pathology, altered neuronal trafficking, and inflammation.

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