The Valentine program project seeks to determine the molecular basis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) caused by mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SODl). Having established that SODl proteins are amyloidogenic, four Projects propose novel experiments toward luiderstanding the nature of toxicity in ALS. The analytical core (Core A;PI: Whitelegge) provides services for physical, chemical and proteomic analysis of SODl-multimers and other extracts from human cells and transgenic arumals.
Specific Aim 1. Metal analysis: Incomplete or improper metallation of SODl has profotind effects upon the protein's properties and it is therefore critically important that levels of Cu and Zn are measured accurately in samples important to projects 1, 2, 3 &4. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) as well as online size-exclusion chromatography ICP-MS will be used to measure metal levels with great sensitivity and reproducibility in whole tissues, isolated organelles and isolated proteins. Metal concentration, distribution, and oxidation state will be spatially imaged across tissue slices using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence microscopy (with Lisa Miller, Brookhaven National Laboratory).
Specific Aim 2. Protein multimer analysis: Non-native forms of SODl including monomeric and multimeric species appear key to toxicity in FALS. The diversity of structures that SODl can attain under different conditions, and the factors that influence its kinetics, will be characterized toward understanding the pathway to toxicity. Core A will use chromatography, mass spectrometry (including hydrogen-deuterium exchange and hydroxyl radical footprinting), synchrotron FTIR imaging, and other techniques to characterize the size and structure of multimer preparations and their heterogeneity. Soluble oligomers and fibrils produced in vitro (Proj. 1 &4), multimers from human embryoiuc stem cell motor neurons (HESCMNs; Proj. 2) and transgenic mice (Proj. 3) will be analyzed. Spedfic Aim 3. General and targeted proteomics: Measurements of protein identity and quantity are required for work proposed in Projects 1, 2,3 &4. Mass spectrometry protocols are established for a variety of measurements. Proteomics will be used to measure early cellular events occurring after HESC-MNs are exposed to defined SODl preparations (Projects 1 &2) toward defining the molecular basis of toxicity in FALS. We will use top-down high-resolution Fourier-transform mass spectrometry experiments and establish selected reaction monitoring protocols for accurate quantification of WT versus mutant SODl in mixed expression experiments (Projects 2 &3).

Public Health Relevance

Some families carry mutations in the enzyme Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase (SODl) that result in adult onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS;motor neuron disease) that is most usually fatal within a few years. Our work aims to understand why very subtle alterations to SODl lead to ALS many years into life. Study of SODl structure and metals may identify new routes toward therapeutic intervention in progression of ALS.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Program Projects (P01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Initial Review Group (NSD)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California Los Angeles
Los Angeles
United States
Zip Code
Sheng, Yuewei; Capri, Joseph; Waring, Alan et al. (2018) Exposure of Solvent-Inaccessible Regions in the Amyloidogenic Protein Human SOD1 Determined by Hydroxyl Radical Footprinting. J Am Soc Mass Spectrom :
Ayers, Jacob I; McMahon, Benjamin; Gill, Sabrina et al. (2017) Relationship between mutant Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase 1 maturation and inclusion formation in cell models. J Neurochem 140:140-150
Xu, Guilian; Fromholt, Susan; Ayers, Jacob I et al. (2015) Substantially elevating the levels of ?B-crystallin in spinal motor neurons of mutant SOD1 mice does not significantly delay paralysis or attenuate mutant protein aggregation. J Neurochem 133:452-64
Saelices, Lorena; Johnson, Lisa M; Liang, Wilson Y et al. (2015) Uncovering the Mechanism of Aggregation of Human Transthyretin. J Biol Chem 290:28932-43
Gelfand, Paul; Smith, Randy J; Stavitski, Eli et al. (2015) Characterization of Protein Structural Changes in Living Cells Using Time-Lapsed FTIR Imaging. Anal Chem 87:6025-31
Chattopadhyay, Madhuri; Nwadibia, Ekeoma; Strong, Cynthia D et al. (2015) The Disulfide Bond, but Not Zinc or Dimerization, Controls Initiation and Seeded Growth in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis-linked Cu,Zn Superoxide Dismutase (SOD1) Fibrillation. J Biol Chem 290:30624-36
Xu, Guilian; Ayers, Jacob I; Roberts, Brittany L et al. (2015) Direct and indirect mechanisms for wild-type SOD1 to enhance the toxicity of mutant SOD1 in bigenic transgenic mice. Hum Mol Genet 24:1019-35
Ivanova, Magdalena I; Sievers, Stuart A; Guenther, Elizabeth L et al. (2014) Aggregation-triggering segments of SOD1 fibril formation support a common pathway for familial and sporadic ALS. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:197-201
Bourassa, Megan W; Brown, Hilda H; Borchelt, David R et al. (2014) Metal-deficient aggregates and diminished copper found in cells expressing SOD1 mutations that cause ALS. Front Aging Neurosci 6:110
Brumshtein, Boris; Esswein, Shannon R; Landau, Meytal et al. (2014) Formation of amyloid fibers by monomeric light chain variable domains. J Biol Chem 289:27513-25

Showing the most recent 10 out of 56 publications