Bimodal regulation of axonal transport by the GDNF-RET signalling axis in healthy and diseased motor neurons

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Deficits in axonal transport are one of the earliest pathological outcomes in several models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), including SOD1G93A mice. Evidence suggests that rescuing these deficits prevents disease progression, stops denervation, and extends survival. Kinase inhibitors have been previously identified as transport enhancers, and are being investigated as potential therapies for ALS. For example, inhibitors of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and insulin growth factor receptor 1 have been shown to rescue axonal transport deficits in vivo in symptomatic SOD1G93A mice. In this work, we investigated the impact of RET, the tyrosine kinase receptor for glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), as a modifier of axonal transport. We identified the fundamental interplay between RET signalling and axonal transport in both wild-type and SOD1G93A motor neurons in vitro. We demonstrated that blockade of RET signalling using pharmacological inhibitors and genetic knockdown enhances signalling endosome transport in wild-type motor neurons and uncovered a divergence in the response of primary motor neurons to GDNF compared with cell lines. Finally, we showed that inhibition of the GDNF-RET signalling axis rescues in vivo transport deficits in early symptomatic SOD1G93A mice, promoting RET as a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of ALS.

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Volume 13
Issue number 7
Pages 584
Available online
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