Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) is a cytosolic antioxidant enzyme, and its mutation has been implicated in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease causing a progressive loss of motor neurons. Although the pathogenic mechanism of ALS remains unclear, it is hypothesized that some toxic properties acquired by mutant SOD1 play a role in the development of ALS. We have examined the structural and catalytic properties of an ALS-linked mutant of human SOD1, His43Arg (H43R), which is characterized by rapid disease progression. As revealed by circular dichroism spectroscopy, H43R assumes a stable β-barrel structure in the Cu2+,Zn2+-bound holo form, but its metal-depleted apo form is highly unstable and readily unfolds or misfolds into an irregular structure at physiological temperature. The conformational change occurs as a two-state transition from a nativelike apo form to a denatured apo form with a half-life of ∼0.5 h. At the same time as the denaturation, the apo form of H43R acquires pro-oxidant potential, which is fully expressed in the presence of Cu2+ and H2O2, as monitored with a fluorogenic probe for detecting pro-oxidant activity. Comparison of d-d absorption bands suggests that the Cu2+ binding mode of the denatured apo form is different from that of the native holo form. The denatured apo form of H43R is likely to provide non-native Cu2+ binding sites where the Cu2+ ion is activated to catalyze harmful oxidation reactions. This study raises the possibility that the structural instability and the resultant Cu-dependent pro-oxidant activity of the apo form of mutant SOD1 may be one of the pathogenic mechanisms of ALS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas