RIPK1 mediates axonal degeneration by promoting inflammation and necroptosis in ALS

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Science  05 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6299, pp. 603-608
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf6803

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Axonal pathology and necroptosis in ALS

Necroptosis, a non–caspase-dependent form of cell death, can be reduced in disease states by inhibiting a kinase called RIPK1. Until now, no human mutations have been linked to necroptosis. Ito et al. show that loss of optineurin, which is encoded by a gene that has been implicated in the human neurodegenerative disorder ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), results in sensitivity to necroptosis and axonal degeneration. When RIPK1-kinase dependent signaling is disrupted in mice that lack optineurin, necroptosis is inhibited and axonal pathology is reversed.

Science, this issue p. 603


Mutations in the optineurin (OPTN) gene have been implicated in both familial and sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, the role of this protein in the central nervous system (CNS) and how it may contribute to ALS pathology are unclear. Here, we found that optineurin actively suppressed receptor-interacting kinase 1 (RIPK1)–dependent signaling by regulating its turnover. Loss of OPTN led to progressive dysmyelination and axonal degeneration through engagement of necroptotic machinery in the CNS, including RIPK1, RIPK3, and mixed lineage kinase domain–like protein (MLKL). Furthermore, RIPK1- and RIPK3-mediated axonal pathology was commonly observed in SOD1G93A transgenic mice and pathological samples from human ALS patients. Thus, RIPK1 and RIPK3 play a critical role in mediating progressive axonal degeneration. Furthermore, inhibiting RIPK1 kinase may provide an axonal protective strategy for the treatment of ALS and other human degenerative diseases characterized by axonal degeneration.

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