Evaluating the role of the Hippo pathway in the onset and disease progression of the SOD1 mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
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The Hippo pathway is a cell signaling pathway involved in organ size regulation and tumorigenesis in mammals. This pathway regulates the activity of Yes-associated protein (YAP), a transcriptional coactivator which binds to the transcription factor TEAD to promote expression of genes controlling growth and proliferation of tissues, as well as inhibition of apoptosis. The Hippo pathway has recently been implicated as a pathogenic mechanism in neurodegenerative disorders. Specifically, mammalian sterile 20 (Ste20)-like kinase 1 (MST1), a protein kinase in the Hippo pathway, has been found to promote neuronal death under conditions of oxidative stress. Moreover, homozygous deletion of MST1 in a mouse model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) significantly delayed onset of neurodegenerative symptoms. We examined the expression levels of key Hippo pathway components in cortex, lumbar spinal cord, and gastrocnemius muscle samples of male and female G39A SOD1 mice using western blots. Our results revealed a significant increase in phosphorylated MST1 (pMST1) in lumbar spinal cord of presymptomatic transgenic animals, and found this increase to be sex and gene copy number dependent. These results suggest that the Hippo pathway is dysregulated in the SOD1 mouse model and that MST1 may play a critical role in pathogenesis and disease progression in ALS.