Ubiquilin 2 modulates ALS/FTD-linked FUS–RNA complex dynamics and stress granule formation

Elizabeth J. Alexander, Amirhossein Ghanbari Niaki, Tao Zhang, Jaya Sarkar, Yang Liu, Raja Sekhar Nirujogi, Akhilesh Pandey, Sua Myong, Jiou Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The ubiquitin-like protein ubiquilin 2 (UBQLN2) has been genetically and pathologically linked to the neurodegenerative diseases amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), but its normal cellular functions are not well understood. In a search for UBQLN2-interacting proteins, we found an enrichment of stress granule (SG) components, including ALS/FTD-linked heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein fused in sarcoma (FUS). Through the use of an optimized SG detection method, we observed UBQLN2 and its interactors at SGs. A low complexity, Sti1-like repeat region in UBQLN2 was sufficient for its localization to SGs. Functionally, UBQLN2 negatively regulated SG formation. UBQLN2 increased the dynamics of FUS–RNA interaction and promoted the fluidity of FUS–RNA complexes at a single-molecule level. This sol-ubilizing effect corresponded to a dispersal of FUS liquid droplets in vitro and a suppression of FUS SG formation in cells. ALS-linked mutations in UBQLN2 reduced its association with FUS and impaired its function in regulating FUS–RNA complex dynamics and SG formation. These results reveal a previously unrecognized role for UBQLN2 in regulating the early stages of liquid–liquid phase separation by directly modulating the fluidity of protein–RNA complexes and the dynamics of SG formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E11485-E11494
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 4 2018


  • ALS
  • FTD
  • FUS
  • Stress granule
  • Ubiquilin 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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