The pathological hallmark of the majority of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases is the mislocalization and aggregation of TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43), an RNA-binding protein. Several studies have attributed disease processes of ALS to abnormal RNA metabolism. However, dysregulated biogenesis of RNA, especially non-coding RNA (ncRNA), is poorly understood. To resolve it, RNA-Seq, biochemical, and immunohistochemical analyses were performed on the pyramidal tract of the medulla oblongata of sporadic ALS (sALS) and control postmortem brain samples. Here, we report perturbation of ncRNA biogenesis in PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) in several sALS brain samples associated with TDP-43 pathology. In addition, we confirmed the dysregulation of two PIWI homologs, PIWI-like-mediated gene silencing 1 (PIWIL1) and PIWIL4, which bind to piRNAs to regulate their expression. PIWIL1 was mislocalized and co-localized with TDP-43 in motor neurons of sporadic ALS lumbar cords. Our results imply that dysregulation of piRNA, PIWIL1, and PIWIL4 is linked to pathogenesis of ALS. Based on these results, piRNAs and PIWI proteins are potential diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets of ALS.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- PIWI protein