T. F. Gendron, K. A. Josephs and L. Petrucelli (2010) Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology36, 97–112
Transactive response DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43): mechanisms of neurodegeneration
Since the identification of phosphorylated and truncated transactive response DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) as a primary component of ubiquitinated inclusions in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions, and the discovery that mutations in the TDP-43 gene cause ALS, much effort has been directed towards establishing how TDP-43 contributes to the development of neurodegeneration. Although few in vivo models are presently available, findings thus far strongly support the involvement of abnormally modified TDP-43 in promoting TDP-43 aggregation and cellular mislocalization. Therefore, TDP-43-mediated neurotoxicity is likely to result from a combination of toxic gains of function conferred by TDP-43 inclusions as well as from the loss of normal TDP-43 function. Nonetheless, the exact neurotoxic TDP-43 species remain unclear, as do the mechanism(s) by which they cause neuronal death. Moreover, little is currently known about the roles of TDP-43, both in the nucleus and the cytoplasm, making it difficult to truly appreciate the detrimental consequences of aberrant TDP-43 function. This review will summarize what is currently understood regarding normal TDP-43 function and the involvement of TDP-43 in neurodegeneration, and will also highlight some of the many remaining questions in need of further investigation.