Assessment of the protective effects of MANF and CDNF variants on a toxin model of ALS in vitro

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202106243239
Title: Assessment of the protective effects of MANF and CDNF variants on a toxin model of ALS in vitro
Author: Valkonen, Konsta Valentin
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202106243239
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/331836
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Translationaalisen lääketieteen maisteriohjelma (Translational Medicine)
Master's Programme in Translational Medicine
Magisterprogrammet i translationell medicin
Specialisation: Cross-disciplinary translational medicine
Cross-disciplinary translational medicine
Cross-disciplinary translational medicine
Abstract: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common adult-onset motoneuron disease. ALS is characterized by a progressive loss of upper and lower motoneurons, resulting in muscle atrophy, paralysis and ultimately in death. Approximately 30,000 people die of ALS annually. There is no cure for ALS, and only two drugs - riluzole and edavarone - have been approved for the treatment of the disease. The complex pathology of ALS contributes to the lack of effective treatments. Several cellular pathologies have been suggested to contribute to the pathogenesis, including ER stress, disruption of calcium homeostasis, oxidative stress and excitotoxicity. Here we describe the cytoprotective effects of C-terminal fragments of the novel proteins with neurotrophic factor properties MANF (mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor) and CDNF (cerebral dopamine neurotrophic factor) on a toxin model of ALS in vitro. Unlike the classical neurotrophic factors, MANF and CDNF are predominantly localized to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and have been shown to alleviate ER stress by keeping the unfolded protein response (UPR) transducers inactive. ER stress is a major component in many neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS, and is a promising therapeutic target for MANF and CDNF. However, the potential of these proteins in ALS treatment remains to be insufficiently described. We used differentiated motoneuron-like NSC-34 cells treated with a range of toxins, modelling different cellular pathologies linked to ALS. After the toxin addition, we treated the cells with MANF and CDNF variants and riluzole and measured the cell viability. The toxin panel consists of tunicamycin, ionomycin and staurosporine. Tunicamycin causes cell death by activating proapoptotic branches of the UPR. Ionomycin is an ionophore and depletes the ER of calcium, thus inducing both UPR-dependent and UPR-independent apoptosis. Less is known about the mechanisms of staurosporine, but it has been shown to induce caspase-3-dependent apoptosis, increase intracellular calcium levels and cause oxidative stress. We hypothesized that both MANF and CDNF variants protect the cells against UPR-dependent apoptosis but not against UPR-independent cell death. We show that MANF and CDNF variants protect the cells against apoptosis induced by tunicamycin, ionomycin and staurosporine. Interestingly, the protein variants mediated the highest protection against ionomycin-induced stress, and they exhibited mild protective effects against staurosporine as well. These findings suggest that MANF and CDNF variants might have a role in maintaining intracellular calcium homeostasis. However, it is possible that staurosporine induces ER stress as well, which would explain the protection conferred by the protein variant. We report that the CDNF variant mediates higher protection at lower concentrations compared to the MANF variant in every toxin assay, whereas the MANF variant mediates higher protection at the highest tested concentration compared to the CDNF variant. We also show that the CDNF variant-mediated protection against staurosporine-induced stress peaked at lower concentrations, and the highest concentration provided distinctively lower, yet significant effect. These data lead us to hypothesize that the protein variants may have a slightly different mode of action, and that they might provide an additive effect when administered simultaneously. We tested a combination of MANF and CDNF variants in cells treated with tunicamycin, ionomycin and staurosporine. However, the combination treatment did not increase the viability more than MANF and CDNF variants independently did. The results answered our questions as well as raised new ones. In the future, the putative calcium-regulating effects of the protein variants should be investigated. The UPR-modifying effects of the drug candidates and toxins need to be assessed by quantifying changes in the UPR marker mRNA and protein expression levels. If it is revealed that the variants have a different mode of action, the possible additive protective effects must be assessed. Finally, a wider toxin panel is needed to fully explore the potential of MANF and CDNF variants in ALS treatment. This study demonstrates the potential of MANF and CDNF variants in protecting motoneurons against several pathological pathways contributing to ALS pathology. However, the mechanisms of action of the variants need further investigation to fully understood their therapeutic potential.
Subject: MANF
CDNF
ALS
NSC-34
ER stress
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