ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease attributable to the death of motor neurons. Associated with ALS are mutations in the genes encoding SOD1 (superoxide dismutase 1), FUS (fused in Sarcoma) protein and TDP-43 (TAR DNA-binding protein-43) each of which leads to aggregation of the respective protein. For example, the ALS-associated mutations in the hSOD1 (human SOD1) gene typically destabilize the native SOD homodimer, leading to misfolding, aggregation and degradation of SOD1. The ALS-associated pathology is not a consequence of the functional inactivation of SOD1 itself, but is rather due to a toxic gain-of-function triggered by mutant SOD1. Recently, the molecular basis of a number of human neurodegenerative diseases resulting from protein misfolding and aggregation, including fALS (familial ALS), was probed by using the baker's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as a highly tractable model. Such studies have, for example, identified novel mutant SOD1-specific interactions and demonstrated that mutant SOD1 disrupts mitochondrial homoeostasis. Features of ALS associated with TDP-43 aggregation have also been recapitulated in S. cerevisiae including the identification of modulators of the toxicity of TDP-43. In this paper, we review recent studies of ALS pathogenesis using S. cerevisiae as a model organism and summarize the potential mechanisms involved in ALS progression.

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