Flow cytometric measurement of the cellular propagation of TDP-43 aggregation

posted on 16.05.2017 by Rafaa Zeineddine, Daniel R. Whiten, Natalie E. Farrawell, Luke McAlary, Maya A. Hanspal, Janet R. Kumita, Mark R. Wilson, Justin J. Yerbury

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a devastating neuromuscular degenerative disease characterized by a focal onset of motor neuron loss, followed by contiguous outward spreading of pathology including TAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43) aggregates. Previous work suggests that TDP-43 can move between cells. Here we used a novel flow cytometry technique (FloIT) to analyze TDP-43 inclusions and propagation. When cells were transfected to express either mutant G294A TDP-43 fused to GFP or wild type TDP-43fused to tomato red and then co-cultured, flow cytometry detected intact cells containing both fusion proteins and using FloIT detected an increase in the numbers of inclusions in lysates from cells expressing wild type TDP-43-tomato. Furthermore, in this same model, FloIT analyses detected inclusions containing both fusion proteins. These results imply the transfer of TDP-43 fusion proteins between cells and that this process can increase aggregation of wild-type TDP-43 by a mechanism involving co-aggregation with G294A TDP-43.