. TDP-43 mutant transgenic mice develop features of ALS and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Nov 3;106(44):18809-14. PubMed.

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  1. This study elegantly gives a first insight on a transgenic mouse model of mutant TDP-43 (A315T) identified in familial ALS patients. For those in the field, it is clear that generating these mouse models is a mammoth task on its own. Among the many interesting findings in this paper, the first to catch my attention was that the 25-kDa TDP-43 C-terminal fragments (CTFs) were recovered from detergent-soluble fractions but not from urea fractions as observed in sporadic and familial ALS/FTLD patients. If the TDP-43 25-kDa CTFs would indeed be confirmed as the real culprit, this would yet again emphasize the importance of soluble but not aggregated protein/peptide in cellular toxicity, as has been shown for a number of other proteinopathies including Aβ, α-synuclein, polyglutamine expansion in Huntingtin, and mutant SOD1.

    Another important observation made in this paper was that ubiquitin-immunoreactive (ir) inclusions observed in select neurons including motor neurons were not TDP-43-ir. Thus, the mutant TDP-43 (A315T) mice do not completely model ALS, where ubiquitin-ir inclusions are also TDP-43-ir; nevertheless, this work does lead to a very interesting question: what are these inclusions composed of?

    Knowing earlier studies (see Tatom et al., 2009 and ARF related news story), I am also not surprised at the glaring omission of wild-type TDP-43 mice as a better control than the non-transgenic mice utilized in this study. So although clearly not all is answered yet, let's see how these and other TDP-43 mouse models currently being developed will unfold the mysteries of TDP-43-led neurodegeneration.

    View all comments by Samir Kumar-Singh