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International Journal of Cell Biology
Volume 2012, Article ID 908724, 9 pages
Review Article

Altered Gene Expression, Mitochondrial Damage and Oxidative Stress: Converging Routes in Motor Neuron Degeneration

1Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Via della Ricerca Scientifica, 00133 Rome, Italy
2Institute for Cell Biology and Neurobiology, CNR, 00100 Rome, Italy
3IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, 00143 Rome, Italy

Received 13 February 2012; Accepted 15 March 2012

Academic Editor: Giuseppe Filomeni

Copyright © 2012 Luisa Rossi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Motor neuron diseases (MNDs) are a rather heterogeneous group of diseases, with either sporadic or genetic origin or both, all characterized by the progressive degeneration of motor neurons. At the cellular level, MNDs share features such as protein misfolding and aggregation, mitochondrial damage and energy deficit, and excitotoxicity and calcium mishandling. This is particularly well demonstrated in ALS, where both sporadic and familial forms share the same symptoms and pathological phenotype, with a prominent role for mitochondrial damage and resulting oxidative stress. Based on recent data, however, altered control of gene expression seems to be a most relevant, and previously overlooked, player in MNDs. Here we discuss which may be the links that make pathways apparently as different as altered gene expression, mitochondrial damage, and oxidative stress converge to generate a similar motoneuron-toxic phenotype.