Poly(GR) interacts with key stress granule factors promoting its assembly into cytoplasmic inclusions

Author(s): Park, J; Wu, Y; Shao, W; Gendron, TF; van der Spek, SJF; Sultanakhmetov, G; Basu, A; Castellanos Otero, P; Jones, CJ; Jansen-West, K; Daughrity, LM; Phanse, S; Del Rosso, G; Tong, J; Castanedes-Casey, M; Jiang, L; Libera, J; Oskarsson, B; Dickson, DW; Sanders, DW; Brangwynne, CP; Emili, A; Wolozin, B; Petrucelli, L; Zhang, Y;
Year: 2023;  
Journal: Cell Reports;  
Volume: 42;  
Issue: 8;  

C9orf72 repeat expansions are the most common genetic cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Poly(GR) proteins are toxic to neurons by forming cytoplasmic inclusions that sequester RNA-binding proteins including stress granule (SG) proteins. However, little is known of the factors governing poly(GR) inclusion formation. Here, we show that poly(GR) infiltrates a finely tuned network of protein-RNA interactions underpinning SG formation. It interacts with G3BP1, the key driver of SG assembly and a protein we found is critical for poly(GR) inclusion formation. Moreover, we discovered that N6-methyladenosine (m6A)-modified mRNAs and m6A-binding YTHDF proteins not only co-localize with poly(GR) inclusions in brains of c9FTD/ALS mouse models and patients with c9FTD, they promote poly(GR) inclusion formation via the incorporation of RNA into the inclusions. Our findings thus suggest that interrupting interactions between poly(GR) and G3BP1 or YTHDF1 proteins or decreasing poly(GR) altogether represent promising therapeutic strategies to combat c9FTD/ALS pathogenesis.