DJ-1 Knockout augments disease severity and shortens survival in a mouse model of ALS

Nirit Lev, Yael Barhum, Itay Lotan, Israel Steiner, Daniel Offen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, lethal, neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by the degeneration of motor neurons. Oxidative stress plays a central role in the disease progression, in concert with an enhanced glutamate excitotoxicity and neuroinflammation. DJ-1 mutations, leading to the loss of functional protein, cause familial Parkinson's disease and motor neuron disease in several patients. DJ-1 responds to oxidative stress and plays an important role in the cellular defense mechanisms. We aimed to investigate whether loss of functional DJ-1 alters the disease course and severity in an ALS mouse model. To this end we used mice that express the human SOD1G93A mutation, the commonly used model of ALS and knockout of DJ-1 mice to generate SOD1 DJ-1 KOmice. We found that knocking out DJ-1in the ALS model led to an accelerated disease course and shortened survival time. DJ-1 deficiency was found to increase neuronal loss in the spinal cord associated with increased gliosis in the spinal cord and reduced antioxidant response that was regulated by the Nrf2 mechanism. The importance of DJ-1 in ALS was also illustrated in a motor neuron cell line that was exposed to glutamate toxicity and oxidative stress. Addition of the DJ-1 derived peptide, ND-13, enhanced the resistance to glutamate and SIN-1 induced toxicity. Thus, our results maintain that DJ-1 plays a role in the disease process and promotes the necessity of further investigation of DJ-1 as a therapeutic target for ALS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0117190
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - 30 Mar 2015


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1690/09


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