still hypothetical, it looks as if themes arise


still hypothetical, it looks as if themes arise that may be common pathways leading to or contributing to motor neuron degeneration (see Fig. 5). Intracellular (axonal) transport (motors and cytoskeleton) is one of them (De Vos et al., 2008). KIFAP3 (kinesin), Elp3 (tubulin), UNC13A BIBF1120 (vesicle release) and dynactin (dynein) are examples. Interestingly, mutations in other transport-related proteins have been identified in related motor neuropathies such as Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease (e.g. NEFL; Mersiyanova et al., 2000) and hereditary spastic paraparesis (e.g. KIF5A; Reid et al., 2002). Another emerging theme has to do with RNA processing (TDP-43, FUS/TLS, Elp3), a theme also encountered in spinomuscular atrophy,

senataxin-related motor neuron disease and others (Lemmens et al., 2010). It can be predicted that more RNA-interacting proteins that play an etiologic or mediating role in ALS will be identified. Neurovascular molecules seem to establish another mechanism in ALS (VEGF, angiogenin) and related diseases (e.g. progranulin in FTLD; Lambrechts et al., 2006). The involvement ZVADFMK of ER stress is yet another one (SOD1, VAPB and others; Kanekura et al., 2009). In addition, there is the mechanism of excitotoxicity that comes up in many models generated so far and that could explain the selective vulnerability of motor neurons (Van Den Bosch et al., 2006). Finally, there is the contribution of glial cells to motor neuron death (Ilieva et al., 2009). It remains Rucaparib in vivo to be seen how these themes will fit together. Most importantly, however, it is uncertain whether they are also at play in human motor neuron degeneration. This is difficult to investigate, as the human material we have is usually from patients in the terminal stages of disease, often poor in quality and, for many researchers, difficult to get hold of. For ∼15 years, ALS research has been limited to mutant SOD1-induced

motor neuron degeneration, as it was the only known cause of this disease. The discovery of other disease-causing mutations and the generation of animal models for them will allow a much broader approach and enable investigators to study compounds with a potential therapeutic effect in several different models. Hopefully these new opportunities will soon yield novel treatment strategies and make a difference for the many patients with ALS, their families and caregivers. A.B. is supported by the Laevers Foundation for ALS research and Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia of the Portuguese Government (Postdoctoral grant BPD/SFRH/2009/66777). P.V.D., L.V.D.B. and W.R. are supported by grants from the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (F.W.O.

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