AAV2/9-mediated overexpression of MIF inhibits SOD1 misfolding, delays disease onset, and extends survival in mouse models of ALS

Marcel F. Leyton-Jaimes, Joy Kahn, Adrian Israelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mutations in superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the loss of upper and lower motor neurons. Transgenic mice that overexpress mutant SOD1 develop paralysis and accumulate misfolded SOD1 onto the cytoplasmic faces of intracellular organelles, including mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Recently, macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) was shown to directly inhibit mutant SOD1 misfolding and binding to intracellular membranes. In addition, complete elimination of endogenous MIF accelerated disease onset and late disease progression, as well as shortened the lifespan of mutant SOD1 mice with higher amounts of misfolded SOD1 detected within the spinal cord. Based on these findings, we used adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors to overexpress MIF in the spinal cord of mutant SOD1G93A and loxSOD1G37R mice. Our data show that MIF mRNA and protein levels were increased in the spinal cords of AAV2/9-MIF–injected mice. Furthermore, mutant SOD1G93A and loxSOD1G37R mice injected with AAV2/9-MIF demonstrated a significant delay in disease onset and prolonged survival compared with their AAV2/9-GFP–injected or noninjected littermates. Moreover, these mice accumulated reduced amounts of misfolded SOD1 in their spinal cords, with no observed effect on glial overactivation as a result of MIF up-regulation. Our findings indicate that MIF plays a significant role in SOD1 folding and misfolding mechanisms and strengthen the hypothesis that MIF acts as a chaperone for misfolded SOD1 in vivo and may have further implications regarding the therapeutic potential role of up-regulation of MIF in modulating the specific accumulation of misfolded SOD1.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)14755-14760
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • AAV
  • ALS
  • MIF
  • Misfolded SOD1
  • Mutant SOD1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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