Meta-analysis of human and mouse ALS astrocytes reveals multi-omic signatures of inflammatory reactive states.
journal contributionposted on 13.01.2022, 09:47 by Oliver J Ziff, Benjamin E Clarke, Doaa M Taha, Hamish Crerar, Nicholas M Luscombe, Rickie Patani
Astrocytes contribute to motor neuron death in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but whether they adopt deleterious features consistent with inflammatory reactive states remains incompletely resolved. To identify inflammatory reactive features in ALS human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived astrocytes, we examined transcriptomics, proteomics, and glutamate uptake in VCP-mutant astrocytes. We complemented this by examining other ALS mutations and models using a systematic meta-analysis of all publicly-available ALS astrocyte sequencing data, which included hiPSC-derived astrocytes carrying SOD1, C9orf72, and FUS gene mutations as well as mouse ALS astrocyte models with SOD1 G93A mutation, Tardbp deletion, and Tmem259 (also known as membralin) deletion. ALS astrocytes were characterized by up-regulation of genes involved in the extracellular matrix, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and the immune response and down-regulation of synaptic integrity, glutamate uptake, and other neuronal support processes. We identify activation of the TGFB, Wnt, and hypoxia signaling pathways in both hiPSC and mouse ALS astrocytes. ALS changes positively correlate with TNF, IL1A, and complement pathway component C1q-treated inflammatory reactive astrocytes, with significant overlap of differentially expressed genes. By contrasting ALS changes with models of protective reactive astrocytes, including middle cerebral artery occlusion and spinal cord injury, we uncover a cluster of genes changing in opposing directions, which may represent down-regulated homeostatic genes and up-regulated deleterious genes in ALS astrocytes. These observations indicate that ALS astrocytes augment inflammatory processes while concomitantly suppressing neuronal supporting mechanisms, thus resembling inflammatory reactive states and offering potential therapeutic targets.