Trends in Molecular Medicine vol:20 issue:2 pages:66-71
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are clinically distinct fatal neurodegenerative disorders. Increasing molecular evidence indicates that both disorders are linked in a continuous spectrum (ALS-FTD spectrum). Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions consisting of the nuclear TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) are found in the large majority of patients in the ALS-FTD spectrum and dominant mutations in the TDP-43 gene cause ALS. A major unresolved question is whether TDP-43-mediated neuronal loss is caused by toxic gain of function of cytoplasmic aggregates, or by a loss of its normal function in the nucleus. Here we argue that based on recent genetic studies in worms, flies, fish, and rodents, loss of function of TDP-43, rather than toxic aggregates, is the key factor in TDP-43-related proteinopathies.