Published Date: October 2, 2019

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Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease Type 2E/1F mutant neurofilament proteins assemble into neurofilaments

Authors: Elizabeth J Stone, Atsuko Uchida, Anthony Brown

Cytoskeleton (Hoboken). 2019 Jul;76(7-8):423-439. doi: 10.1002/cm.21566. Epub 2019 Nov 6.


Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease Type 2E/1F (CMT2E/1F) is a peripheral neuropathy caused by mutations in neurofilament protein L (NFL), which is one of five neurofilament subunit proteins that co-assemble to form neurofilaments in vivo. Prior studies on cultured cells have shown that CMT2E/1F mutations disrupt neurofilament assembly and lead to protein aggregation, suggesting a possible disease mechanism. However, electron microscopy of axons in peripheral nerve biopsies from patients has revealed accumulations of neurofilament polymers of normal appearance and no evidence of protein aggregates. To reconcile these observations, we reexamined the assembly of seven CMT2E/1F NFL mutants in cultured cells. None of the mutants assembled into homopolymers in SW13vim- cells, but P8R, P22S, L268/269P, and P440/441L mutant NFL assembled into heteropolymers in the presence of neurofilament protein M (NFM) alone, and N98S, Q332/333P, and E396/397K mutant NFL assembled in the presence of NFM and peripherin. P8R, P22S, N98S, L268/269P, E396/397K, and P440/441L mutant NFL co-assembled into neurofilaments with endogenous NFL, NFM, and α-internexin in cultured neurons, although the N98S and E396/397K mutants showed reduced filament incorporation, and the Q332/333P mutant showed limited incorporation. We conclude that all the mutants are capable of assembling into neurofilaments, but for some of the mutants this was dependent on the identity of the other neurofilament proteins available for co-assembly, and most likely also their relative expression level. Thus, caution should be exercised when drawing conclusions about the assembly capacity of CMT2E/1F mutants based on transient transfections in cultured cells.

PMID: 31574566DOI: 10.1002/cm.21566PMC: PMC7398718