- Reviewing EditorMichael EisenUniversity of California, Berkeley, United States of America
- Senior EditorMichael EisenUniversity of California, Berkeley, United States of America
Reviewer #1 (Public Review):
This is a carefully performed and well-documented study to indicate that the FUS protein interacts with the GGGGCC repeat sequence in Drosophila fly models, and the mechanism appears to include modulating the repeat structure and mitigating RAN translation. They suggest FUS, as well as a number of other G-quadruplex binding RNA proteins, are RNA chaperones, meaning they can alter the structure of the expanded repeat sequence to modulate its biological activities.
Overall this is a nicely done study with nice quantitation. It remains somewhat unclear from the data and discussions in exactly what way the authors mean that FUS is an RNA chaperone: is FUS changing the structure of the repeat or does FUS binding prevent it from folding into alternative in vivo structure?
Reviewer #2 (Public Review):
Fuijino et al. provide interesting data describing the RNA-binding protein, FUS, for its ability to bind the RNA produced from the hexanucleotide repeat expansion of GGGGCC (G4C2). This binding correlates with reductions in the production of toxic dipeptides and reductions in toxic phenotypes seen in (G4C2)30+ expressing Drosophila. Both FUS and G4C2 repeats of >25 are associated with ALS/FTD spectrum disorders. Thus, these data are important for increasing our understanding of potential interactions between multiple disease genes. However, further validation of some aspects of the provided data is needed, especially the expression data.
Some points to consider when reading the work:
The broadly expressed GMR-GAL4 driver leads to variable tissue loss in different genotypes, potentially confounding downstream analyses dependent on viable tissue/mRNA levels.
The relationship between FUS and foci formation is unclear and should be interpreted carefully.
Reviewer #3 (Public Review):
In this manuscript Fujino and colleagues used C9-ALS/FTD fly models to demonstrate that FUS modulates the structure of (G4C2) repeat RNA as an RNA chaperone, and regulates RAN translation, resulting in the suppression of neurodegeneration in C9-ALS/FTD. They also confirmed that FUS preferentially binds to and modulates the G-quadruplex structure of (G4C2) repeat RNA, followed by the suppression of RAN translation. The potential significance of these findings is high since C9ORF72 repeat expansion is the most common genetic cause of ALS/FTD, especially in Caucasian populations and the DPR proteins have been considered the major cause of the neurodegenerations.
While the effect of RBP as an RNA chaperone on (G4C2) repeat expansion is supposed to be dose-dependent according to (G4C2)n RNA expression, the first experiment of the screening for RBPs in C9-ALS/FTD flies lacks this concept. It is uncertain if the RBPs of the groups "suppression (weak)" and "no effect" were less or no ability of RNA chaperone or if the expression of the RBP was not sufficient, and if the RBPs of the group "enhancement" exacerbated the toxicity derived from (G4C2)89 RNA or the expression of the RBP was excessive. The optimal dose of any RBPs that bind to (G4C2) repeats may be able to neutralize the toxicity without the reduction of (G4C2)n RNA.
In relation to issue 1, the rescue effect of FUS on the fly expressing (G4C2)89 (FUS-4) in Figure 4-figure supplement 1 seems weaker than the other flies expressing both FUS and (G4C2)89 in Figure 1 and Figure 1-figure supplement 2. The expression level of both FUS protein and (G4C2)89 RNA in each line is important from the viewpoint of therapeutic strategy for C9-ALS/FTD.
While hallmarks of C9ORF72 are the presence of DPRs and the repeat-containing RNA foci, the loss of function of C9ORF72 is also considered to somehow contribute to neurodegeneration. It is unclear if FUS reduces not only the DPRs but also the protein expression of C9ORF72 itself.
In Figure 5E-F, it cannot be distinguished whether FUS binds to GGGGCC repeats or the 5' flanking region. The same experiment should be done by using FUS-RRMmut to elucidate whether FUS binding is the major mechanism for this translational control. Authors should show that FUS binding to long GGGGCC repeats is important for RAN translation.
It is not possible to conclude, as the authors have, that G-quadruplex-targeting RBPs are generally important for RAN translation (Figure 6), without showing whether RBPs that do not affect (G4C2)89 RNA levels lead to decreased DPR protein level or RNA foci.