A Zn-dependent structural transition of SOD1 modulates its ability to undergo phase separation. Academic Article uri icon


  • The misfolding and mutation of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) is commonly associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). SOD1 can accumulate within stress granules (SGs), a type of membraneless organelle, which is believed to form via liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS). Using wild-type, metal-deficient, and different ALS disease mutants of SOD1 and computer simulations, we report here that the absence of Zn leads to structural disorder within two loop regions of SOD1, triggering SOD1 LLPS and amyloid formation. The addition of exogenous Zn to either metal-free SOD1 or to the severe ALS mutation I113T leads to the stabilization of the loops and impairs SOD1 LLPS and aggregation. Moreover, partial Zn-mediated inhibition of LLPS was observed for another severe ALS mutant, G85R, which shows perturbed Zn-binding. By contrast, the ALS mutant G37R, which shows reduced Cu-binding, does not undergo LLPS. In addition, SOD1 condensates induced by Zn-depletion exhibit greater cellular toxicity than aggregates formed by prolonged incubation under aggregating conditions. Overall, our work establishes a role for Zn-dependent modulation of SOD1 conformation and LLPS properties that may contribute to amyloid formation.

published proceedings

  • EMBO J

altmetric score

  • 29.3

author list (cited authors)

  • Das, B., Roychowdhury, S., Mohanty, P., Rizuan, A., Chakraborty, J., Mittal, J., & Chattopadhyay, K.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Das, Bidisha||Roychowdhury, Sumangal||Mohanty, Priyesh||Rizuan, Azamat||Chakraborty, Joy||Mittal, Jeetain||Chattopadhyay, Krishnananda

publication date

  • January 2023