ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive and fatal motor neuron disease with no effective medicine. Importantly, the majority of the ALS cases are with TDP-43 proteinopathies characterized with TDP-43-positive, ubiquitin-positive inclusions (UBIs) in the cytosol. However, the role of the mismetabolism of TDP-43 in the pathogenesis of ALS with TDP-43 proteinopathies is unclear. Using the conditional mouse gene targeting approach, we show that mice with inactivation of the Tardbp gene in the spinal cord motor neurons (HB9:Cre-Tardbp lx/-) exhibit progressive and male-dominant development of ALS-related phenotypes including kyphosis, motor dysfunctions, muscle weakness/atrophy, motor neuron loss, and astrocytosis in the spinal cord. Significantly, ubiquitinated proteins accumulate in the TDP-43-depleted motor neurons of the spinal cords of HB9:Cre-Tardbp lx/- mice with the ALS phenotypes. This study not only establishes an important role of TDP-43 in the long term survival and functioning of the mammalian spinal cord motor neurons, but also establishes that loss of TDP-43 function could be one major cause for neurodegeneration in ALS with TDP-43 proteinopathies.
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