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Repeat expansions in the C9orf72 gene are a common cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration, two devastating neurodegenerative disorders. One of the proposed mechanisms of GGGGCC repeat expansion is their translation into non-canonical dipeptide repeats, which can then accumulate as aggregates and contribute to these pathologies. There are five different dipeptide repeat proteins (polyGA, polyGR, polyPR, polyPA and polyGP), some of which are known to be neurotoxic. In the present study, we used BioID2 proximity labelling to identify the interactomes of all five dipeptide repeat proteins consisting of 125 repeats each. We identified 113 interacting partners for polyGR, 90 for polyGA, 106 for polyPR, 25 for polyPA, and 27 for polyGP. Gene Ontology enrichment analysis of the proteomic data revealed that these target interaction partners are involved in a variety of functions, including protein translation, signal transduction pathways, protein catabolic processes, amide metabolic processes, and RNA-binding. Using autopsy brain tissue from patients with C9orf72 expansion complemented with cell culture analysis, we evaluated the interactions between polyGA and valosin-containing protein (VCP). Functional analysis of this interaction revealed sequestration of VCP with polyGA aggregates, altering levels of soluble VCP protein. VCP also functions in autophagy processes, and consistent with this, we observed altered autophagy in cells expressing polyGA. We also observed altered co-localisation of polyGA aggregates and p62 in cells depleted of the VCP protein. Altogether these data suggest that sequestration of VCP with polyGA aggregates contributes to the loss of VCP function, and consequently to alterations in autophagy processes in C9orf72 expansion disorders.

Original publication




Conference paper

Publication Date



Department of Biotechnology, Jožef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia.