Congratulations to Roger Shi, PhD on his publication in Molecular Metabolism!

The paper is titled “Pharmacological inhibition of ALCAT1 mitigates amyotrophic lateral sclerosis by attenuating SOD1 protein aggregation” by Xueling Liu, Jun Zhang, Jie Li, Chengjie Song, and Yuguang Shi.  Dr. Shi is the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Distinguished Chair in Metabolic Biology and a Professor with the Department of Pharmacology and the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies.


Objective: Mutations in the copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive fatal neuromuscular disease characterized by motor neurons death and severe skeletal muscle degeneration. However, there is no effective treatment for this debilitating disease, since the underlying cause for the pathogenesis remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated a role of acyl-CoA:lysocardiolipin acyltransferase 1 (ALCAT1), an acyltransferase that promotes mitochondrial dysfunction in age-related diseases by catalyzing pathological remodeling of cardiolipin, in promoting the development of ALS in the SOD1G93A transgenic mice.

Methods: Using SOD1G93A transgenic mice with targeted deletion of the ALCAT1 gene and treated with Dafaglitapin (Dafa), a very potent and highly selective ALCAT1 inhibitor, we determined whether ablation or pharmaceutical inhibition of ALCAT1 by Dafa would mitigate ALS and the underlying pathogenesis by preventing pathological remodeling of cardiolipin, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial dysfunction by multiple approaches, including lifespan analysis, behavioral tests, morphological and functional analysis of skeletal muscle, electron microscopic and Seahorse analysis of mitochondrial morphology and respiration, western blot analysis of the SOD1G93A protein aggregation, and lipidomic analysis of cardiolipin content and acyl composition in mice spinal cord.

Results: ALCAT1 protein expression is potently upregulated in the skeletal muscle of the SOD1G93A mice. Consequently, ablation or pharmacological inhibition of ALCAT1 by Dafa attenuates motor neuron dysfunction, neuronal inflammation, and skeletal muscle atrophy in SOD1G93A mice by preventing SOD1G93A protein aggregation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and pathological CL remodeling, leading to moderate extension of lifespan in the SOD1G93A transgenic mice.

Conclusions: ALCAT1 promotes the development of ALS by linking SOD1G93A protein aggregation to mitochondrial dysfunction, implicating Dafa as a potential treatment for this debilitating disorder.

Keywords: ALS; Cardiolipin; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Neuronal inflammation; SOD1 aggregation.


Mol Metab. 2022 Sep;63:101536. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2022.101536. Epub 2022 Jun 28.

PMID: 35772643 PMCID: PMC9287437

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