Aggregation Properties of the Small Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein U1-70K in Alzheimer Disease [Molecular Bases of Disease]

October 29th, 2014 by Diner, I., Hales, C. M., Rabenold, L., Bishof, I., Duong, D. M., Yi, H., Laur, O., Gearing, M., Troncoso, J., Thambisetty, M., Lah, J. J., Levey, A. I., Seyfried, N. T.

Recent evidence indicates that U1-70K and other U1 small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs) are sarkosyl-insoluble and associate with tau neurofibrillary tangles selectively in Alzheimer disease (AD). Currently, the mechanisms underlying the conversion of soluble nuclear U1 snRNPs into insoluble cytoplasmic aggregates remain elusive. Based on the biochemical and subcellular distribution properties of U1-70K in AD we hypothesized that aggregated U1-70K itself or other biopolymers (e.g. proteins or nucleic acids) interact with and sequester natively folded soluble U1-70K into insoluble aggregates. Here we demonstrate that total homogenates from AD brain induce soluble U1-70K from control brain or recombinant U1-70K to become sarkosyl-insoluble. This effect was not dependent on RNA, and did not correlate with detergent-insoluble tau levels as AD homogenates with reduced levels of these components were still capable of inducing U1-70K aggregation. In contrast, proteinase K-treated AD homogenates and sarkosyl-soluble AD fractions were unable to induce U1-70K aggregation, indicating that aggregated proteins in AD brain are responsible for inducing soluble U1-70K aggregation. It was determined that the C-terminus of U1-70K, that harbors two disordered low-complexity (LC) domains, is necessary for U1-70K aggregation. Moreover, both LC1 and LC2 domains were sufficient for aggregation. Finally, protein cross-linking and mass spectrometry studies demonstrated that a U1-70K fragment harboring the LC1 domain directly interacts with aggregated U1-70K in AD brain. Our results support a hypothesis that aberrant forms of U1-70K in AD can directly sequester soluble forms of U1-70K into insoluble aggregates.