Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the selective death of motor neurons. Causative mutations in the global RNA-processing proteins TDP-43 and FUS among others, as well as their aggregation in ALS patients, have identified defects in RNA metabolism as an important feature in this disease. Lethal congenital contracture syndrome 1 and lethal arthrogryposis with anterior horn cell disease are autosomal recessive fetal motor neuron diseases that are caused by mutations in another global RNA-processing protein, hGle1. In this study, we carried out the first screening of GLE1 in ALS patients (173 familial and 760 sporadic) and identified 2 deleterious mutations (1 splice site and 1 nonsense mutation) and 1 missense mutation. Functional analysis of the deleterious mutants revealed them to be unable to rescue motor neuron pathology in zebrafish morphants lacking Gle1. Furthermore, in HeLa cells, both mutations caused a depletion of hGle1 at the nuclear pore where it carries out an essential role in nuclear export of mRNA. These results suggest a haploinsufficiency mechanism and point to a causative role for GLE1 mutations in ALS patients. This further supports the involvement of global defects in RNA metabolism in ALS.
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