A fluid biomarker reveals loss of TDP-43 splicing repression in presymptomatic ALS–FTD

Katherine E. Irwin, Pei Jasin, Kerstin E. Braunstein, Irika R. Sinha, Mark A. Garret, Kyra D. Bowden, Koping Chang, Juan C. Troncoso, Abhay Moghekar, Esther S. Oh, Denitza Raitcheva, Dan Bartlett, Timothy Miller, James D. Berry, Bryan J. Traynor, Jonathan P. Ling, Philip C. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although loss of TAR DNA-binding protein 43 kDa (TDP-43) splicing repression is well documented in postmortem tissues of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), whether this abnormality occurs during early-stage disease remains unresolved. Cryptic exon inclusion reflects loss of function of TDP-43, and thus detection of proteins containing cryptic exon-encoded neoepitopes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or blood could reveal the earliest stages of TDP-43 dysregulation in patients. Here we use a newly characterized monoclonal antibody specific to a TDP-43-dependent cryptic epitope (encoded by the cryptic exon found in HDGFL2) to show that loss of TDP-43 splicing repression occurs in ALS–FTD, including in presymptomatic C9orf72 mutation carriers. Cryptic hepatoma-derived growth factor-like protein 2 (HDGFL2) accumulates in CSF at significantly higher levels in familial ALS–FTD and sporadic ALS compared with controls and is elevated earlier than neurofilament light and phosphorylated neurofilament heavy chain protein levels in familial disease. Cryptic HDGFL2 can also be detected in blood of individuals with ALS–FTD, including in presymptomatic C9orf72 mutation carriers, and accumulates at levels highly correlated with those in CSF. Our findings indicate that loss of TDP-43 cryptic splicing repression occurs early in disease progression, even presymptomatically, and that detection of the HDGFL2 cryptic neoepitope serves as a potential diagnostic biomarker for ALS, which should facilitate patient recruitment and measurement of target engagement in clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-393
Number of pages12
JournalNature medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'A fluid biomarker reveals loss of TDP-43 splicing repression in presymptomatic ALS–FTD'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this