Mutation in superoxide dismutase–1 (SOD1) causes the inherited degenerative neurological disease familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a non–cell-autonomous disease: mutant SOD1 synthesis in motor neurons and microglia drives disease onset and progression, respectively. In this issue of the JCI, Harraz and colleagues demonstrate that SOD1 mutants expressed in human cell lines directly stimulate NADPH oxidase (Nox) by binding to Rac1, resulting in overproduction of damaging ROS (see the related article beginning on page 659). Diminishing ROS by treatment with the microglial Nox inhibitor apocynin or by elimination of Nox extends survival in ALS mice, reviving the proposal that ROS mediate ALS pathogenesis, but with a new twist: it’s ROS produced by microglia.
Séverine Boillée, Don W. Cleveland
Production of ROS by microglial Nox2 during inflammation is amplified by mutant SOD1 binding to Rac1 in ALS.