Autophagy activators rescue and alleviate pathogenesis of a mouse model with proteinopathies of the TAR DNA-binding protein 43

I. Fang Wang, Bo Shen Guo, Yu Chih Liu, Cheng Chun Wu, Chun Hung Yang, Kuen Jer Tsai, Che Kun James Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

324 Citations (Scopus)


TDP-43 is a multifunctional DNA/RNA-binding protein that has been identified as the major component of the cytoplasmic ubiquitin (+) inclusions (UBIs) in diseased cells of frontotemporal lobar dementia (FTLD-U) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Unfortunately, effective drugs for these neurodegenerative diseases are yet to be developed. We have tested the therapeutic potential of rapamycin, an inhibitor of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and three other autophagy activators (spermidine, carbamazepine, and tamoxifen) in a FTLD-U mouse model with TDP-43 proteinopathies. Rapamycin treatment has been reported to be beneficial in some animal models of neurodegenerative diseases but not others. Furthermore, the effects of rapamycin treatment in FTLD-U have not been investigated. We show that rapamycin treatment effectively rescues the learning/memory impairment of these mice at 3 mo of age, and it significantly slows down the age-dependent loss of their motor function. These behavioral improvements upon rapamycin treatment are accompanied by a decreased level of caspase-3 and a reduction of neuron loss in the forebrain of FTLD-U mice. Furthermore, the number of cells with cytosolic TDP-43 (+) inclusions and the amounts of full-length TDP-43 as well as its cleavage products (35 kDa and 25 kDa) in the urea-soluble fraction of the cellular extract are significantly decreased upon rapamycin treatment. These changes in TDP-43 metabolism are accompanied by rapamycin-induced decreases in mTOR-regulated phospho-p70 S6 kinase (P-p70) and the p62 protein, as well as increases in the autophagic marker LC3. Finally, rapamycin as well as spermidine, carbamazepine, and tamoxifen could also rescue the motor dysfunction of 7-mo-old FTLD-U mice. These data suggest that autophagy activation is a potentially useful route for the therapy of neurodegenerative diseases with TDP-43 proteinopathies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15024-15029
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - Sept 11 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Neuronal apoptosis
  • Protein aggregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Autophagy activators rescue and alleviate pathogenesis of a mouse model with proteinopathies of the TAR DNA-binding protein 43'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this