Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease with no cure or effective treatment in which TAR DNA Binding Protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43) abnormally accumulates into misfolded protein aggregates in affected neurons. It is widely accepted that protein misfolding and aggregation promotes proteotoxic stress. The molecular chaperones are a primary line of defense against proteotoxic stress, and there has been long-standing interest in understanding the relationship between chaperones and aggregated protein in ALS. Of particular interest are the heat shock protein of 70 kDa (Hsp70) family of chaperones. However, defining which of the 13 human Hsp70 isoforms is critical for ALS has presented many challenges. To gain insight into the specific Hsp70 that modulates TDP-43, we investigated the relationship between TDP-43 and the Hsp70s using proximity-dependent biotin identification (BioID) and discovered several Hsp70 isoforms associated with TDP-43 in the nucleus, raising the possibility of an interaction with native TDP-43. We further found that HspA5 bound specifically to the RNA-binding domain of TDP-43 using recombinantly expressed proteins. Moreover, in a Drosophila strain that mimics ALS upon TDP-43 expression, the mRNA levels of the HspA5 homologue (Hsc70.3) were significantly increased. Similarly we observed upregulation of HspA5 in prefrontal cortex neurons from human ALS patients. Finally, overexpression of HspA5 in Drosophila rescued TDP-43-induced toxicity, suggesting that upregulation of HspA5 may have a compensatory role in ALS pathobiology.
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