Mutation of the ALS/FTD-associated RNA-binding protein FUS alters axonal cytoskeletal organisation


Summary Aberrant condensation and localisation of the RNA-binding protein fused in sarcoma (FUS) occur in variants of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). ALS is also associated with cytoskeletal defects, genetically and through observations of compromised axonal transport. Here, we asked whether compromised axonal cytoskeletal organisation is an early feature of FUS-associated ALS/FTD. We used an ALS-associated mutant FUS(P525L) and the FTD-mimic hypomethylated FUS, FUS(16R), to investigate the common and distinct cytoskeletal changes found in these two reported Xenopus models. Combining a novel atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based approach for in vitro cytoskeletal characterisation and in vivo axonal branching analysis, we found that mutant FUS reduced actin density in the dynamically remodelling growth cone, and reduced axonal branch complexity. We furthermore found evidence of an axon looping defect for FUS(P525L). Therefore, we show that compromised actin remodelling is potentially an important early event in FUS-associated pathogenesis. Abstract Figure