Global loss of Na,K-ATPase and its nitric oxide-mediated regulation in a transgenic mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Dorette Z. Ellis, Jason Rabe, Kathleen J. Sweadner

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Na,K-ATPase plays a critical role in energy metabolism and ion fluxes. Its loss was investigated in the G93A mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in which the mutation of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) is thought to lead to aberrant oxidative damage. Observed losses in spinal cord Na,K-ATPase activity exceeded all expectations. All three catalytic subunit isoforms (α1, α2, α3) were reduced, and the global α subunit loss affected not just neurons, glia, and myelinated axon tracts but even ependymal and pial membranes. Decreases in Na,K-ATPase activity were greater than losses of protein, and there were losses of Na,K-ATPase α, but not β, subunits. Together, these observations are consistent with selective degradation of the α subunit after damage. Overexpression of normal SOD1 does not cause ALS-like symptoms, but it has other known pathological effects. In transgenic mice overexpressed normal human SOD1 had a smaller but still considerable effect on Na,K-ATPase. Furthermore, the nitric oxide-mediated regulatory pathway for Na,K-ATPase inhibition was undetectable in spinal cord tissue slices from mice overexpressing either mutant or normal human SOD1. Na,K-ATPase activity did not respond to nitric oxide donors, and the free radical-dependent step of the pathway could not be bypassed by the addition of the downstream protein kinase G activator, 8-Br-cGMP. The data demonstrate that Na,K-ATPase is vulnerable to aberrant SOD1 activity, making it a potential contributing factor in disease pathology. Moreover, the global cellular distribution of Na,K-ATPase loss indicates that SOD1 overexpression is far-reaching in its pathological effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Na,K-ATPase
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Nitric oxide
  • SOD1
  • Spinal cord


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