Dysregulation in Subcellular Localization of Myelin Basic Protein mRNA Does Not Result in Altered Myelination in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Samantha K. Barton (Lead / Corresponding author), Jenna M. Gregory, Bhuvaneish T. Selvaraj, Karina McDade, Christopher M. Henstridge, Tara L. Spires-Jones, Owen G. James, Arpan R. Mehta, David Story, Karen Burr, Dario Magnani, Adrian M. Isaacs, Colin Smith, Siddharthan Chandran (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Pathological hallmarks of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), including protein misfolding, are well established in oligodendrocytes. More recently, an RNA trafficking deficit of key myelin proteins has been suggested in oligodendrocytes in ALS but the extent to which this affects myelination and the relative contribution of this to disease pathogenesis is unclear. ALS autopsy research findings showing demyelination contrasts with the routine clinical-pathological workup of ALS cases where it is rare to see white matter abnormalities other than simple Wallerian degeneration secondary to widespread neuronal loss. To begin to address this apparent variance, we undertook a comprehensive evaluation of myelination at an RNA, protein and structural level using human pathological material from sporadic ALS patients, genetic ALS patients (harboring C9orf72 mutation) and age- and sex-matched non-neurological controls. We performed (i) quantitative spatial profiling of the mRNA transcript encoding myelin basic protein (MBP), (ii) quantification of MBP protein and (iii) the first quantitative structural assessment of myelination in ALS post-mortem specimens by electron microscopy. We show no differences in MBP protein levels or ultrastructural myelination, despite a significant dysregulation in the subcellular trafficking of MBP mRNA in ALS patients compared to controls. We therefore confirm that whilst there are cell autonomous mRNA trafficking deficits affecting oligodendrocytes in ALS, this has no effect on myelin structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number705306
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • oligodendrocytes
  • RNA trafficking
  • myelination
  • ALS
  • myelin basic protein


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