Poly-GR dipeptide repeat polymers correlate with neurodegeneration and Clinicopathological subtypes in C9ORF72-related brain disease

Nobutaka Sakae, Kevin F. Bieniek, Yong Jie Zhang, Kelly Ross, Tania F. Gendron, Melissa E. Murray, Rosa Rademakers, Leonard Petrucelli, Dennis W. Dickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is heterogeneous in clinical presentation, neuropathological characteristics and genetics. An expanded GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in C9ORF72 is the most common genetic cause of both FTLD and motor neuron disease (MND). Dipeptide repeat polymers (DPR) are generated through repeat-associated non-ATG translation, and they aggregate in neuronal inclusions with a distribution distinct from that of TDP-43 pathology. Recent studies from animal and cell culture models suggest that DPR might be toxic, but that toxicity may differ for specific DPR. Arginine containing DPR (poly-GR and poly-PR) have the greatest toxicity and are less frequent than other DPR (poly-GP, poly-GA). A unique feature of arginine-containing DPR is their potential for post-translational modification by methyl-transferases, which produces methylarginine DPR. In this report, we explored the relationship of DPR and methylarginine to markers of neurodegeneration using quantitative digital microscopic methods in 40 patients with C9ORF72 mutations and one of three different clinicopathologic phenotypes, FTLD, FTLD-MND or MND. We find that density and distribution of poly-GR inclusions are different from poly-GA and poly-GP inclusions. We also demonstrate colocalization of poly-GR with asymmetrical dimethylarginine (aDMA) immunoreactivity in regions with neurodegeneration. Differences in aDMA were also noted by clinical phenotype. FTLD-MND had the highest burden of poly-GR pathology compared to FTLD and MND, while FTLD-MND had higher burden of aDMA than FTLD. The results suggest that poly-GR pathology is associated with toxicity and neurodegeneration. It remains to be determined if dimethylarginine modification of poly-GR could contribute to its toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63
Number of pages1
JournalActa Neuropathologica Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 20 2018


  • C9ORF72
  • Dimethylarginine
  • Dipeptide repeat polymers (DPR)
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Poly-GR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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