BMJ Publishing Group, Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 1(92), p. 86-95, 2020
Inclusions of pathogenic deposits containing TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) are evident in the brain and spinal cord of patients that present across a spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases. For instance, the majority of patients with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (up to 97%) and a substantial proportion of patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (~45%) exhibit TDP-43 positive neuronal inclusions, suggesting a role for this protein in disease pathogenesis. In addition, TDP-43 inclusions are evident in familial ALS phenotypes linked to multiple gene mutations including the TDP-43 gene coding (TARDBP) and unrelated genes (eg, C9orf72). While TDP-43 is an essential RNA/DNA binding protein critical for RNA-related metabolism, determining the pathophysiological mechanisms through which TDP-43 mediates neurodegeneration appears complex, and unravelling these molecular processes seems critical for the development of effective therapies. This review highlights the key physiological functions of the TDP-43 protein, while considering an expanding spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases associated with pathogenic TDP-43 deposition, and dissecting key molecular pathways through which TDP-43 may mediate neurodegeneration.