Nuclear clearance and cytoplasmic accumulations of the RNA-binding protein TDP-43 are pathological hallmarks in almost all patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and up to 50% of patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer’s disease. In Alzheimer’s disease, TDP-43 pathology is predominantly observed in the limbic system and correlates with cognitive decline and reduced hippocampal volume. Disruption of nuclear TDP-43 function leads to abnormal RNA splicing and incorporation of erroneous cryptic exons in numerous transcripts including Stathmin-2 (STMN2, also known as SCG10) and UNC13A, recently reported in tissues from patients with ALS and FTD. Here, we identify both STMN2 and UNC13A cryptic exons in Alzheimer’s disease patients, that correlate with TDP-43 pathology burden, but not with amyloid-β or tau deposits. We also demonstrate that processing of the STMN2 pre-mRNA is more sensitive to TDP-43 loss of function than UNC13A. In addition, full-length RNAs encoding STMN2 and UNC13A are suppressed in large RNA-seq datasets generated from Alzheimer’s disease post-mortem brain tissue. Collectively, these results open exciting new avenues to use STMN2 and UNC13A as potential therapeutic targets in a broad range of neurodegenerative conditions with TDP-43 proteinopathy including Alzheimer’s disease.
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- Alzheimer’s disease
- Cryptic exons