Ph.D. National Yang-Ming University
Increasing loss of structure and function of neurons and decline in cognitive function is commonly seen during the progression of neurologic diseases, although the causes and initial symptoms of individual diseases are distinct. This observation suggests a convergence of common degenerative features. In myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), the expression of expanded CUG RNA induces neurotransmission dysfunction before axon and dendrite degeneration and reduced MBNL2 expression associated with aberrant alternative splicing. The role of loss of function of MBNL2 in the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration and the causal mechanism of neurodegeneration-reduced expression of MBNL2 remain elusive. Here, we show that increased MBNL2 expression is associated with neuronal maturation and required for neuronal morphogenesis and the fetal to adult developmental transition of RNA processing. Neurodegenerative conditions including NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-mediated excitotoxicity and dysregulated calcium homeostasis triggered nuclear translocation of calpain-2, thus resulting in MBNL2 degradation and reversal of MBNL2-regulated RNA processing to developmental patterns. Nuclear expression of calpain-2 resembled its developmental pattern and was associated with MBNL2 degradation. Knock-down of calpain-2 expression or inhibition of calpain-2 nuclear translocation prevented neurodegeneration-reduced MBNL2 expression and dysregulated RNA processing. Increased calpain-2 nuclear translocation associated with reduced MBNL2 expression and aberrant RNA processing occurred in models for DM1 and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) including EpA960/CaMKII-Cre mice of either sex and female APP/PS1 and THY-Tau22 mice. Our results identify a regulatory mechanism for MBNL2 downregulation and suggest that calpain-2-mediated MBNL2 degradation accompanied by re-induction of a developmental RNA processing program may be a converging pathway to neurodegeneration.