Superoxide dismutase [Cu-Zn] also known as superoxide dismutase 1 or SOD1 is an enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

 that in humans is encoded by the SOD1 gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

. SOD1 is one of three human superoxide dismutase
Superoxide dismutase
Superoxide dismutases are a class of enzymes that catalyze the dismutation of superoxide into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. As such, they are an important antioxidant defense in nearly all cells exposed to oxygen...



SOD1 binds copper and zinc ions and is one of three superoxide dismutases responsible for destroying free superoxide
A superoxide, also known by the obsolete name hyperoxide, is a compound that possesses the superoxide anion with the chemical formula O2−. The systematic name of the anion is dioxide. It is important as the product of the one-electron reduction of dioxygen O2, which occurs widely in nature...

 radicals in the body. The encoded isozyme
Isozymes are enzymes that differ in amino acid sequence but catalyze the same chemical reaction. These enzymes usually display different kinetic parameters Isozymes (also known as isoenzymes) are enzymes that differ in amino acid sequence but catalyze the same chemical reaction. These enzymes...

 is a soluble cytoplasm
The cytoplasm is a small gel-like substance residing between the cell membrane holding all the cell's internal sub-structures , except for the nucleus. All the contents of the cells of prokaryote organisms are contained within the cytoplasm...

ic and mitochondrial
In cell biology, a mitochondrion is a membrane-enclosed organelle found in most eukaryotic cells. These organelles range from 0.5 to 1.0 micrometers in diameter...

 intermembrane space protein, acting as a homodimer to convert naturally occurring, but harmful, superoxide radicals to molecular oxygen and hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and an oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water. In dilute solution, it appears colorless. With its oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is often used as a bleach or cleaning agent...


Clinical significance

In one study, deletions in the gene were reported in two familial cases of keratoconus
Keratoconus , is a degenerative disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than its normal gradual curve....


Mice lacking SOD1 have increased age-related muscle mass loss (sarcopenia
Sarcopenia is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength associated with aging...

), early development of cataracts, macular degeneration
Macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is a medical condition which usually affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field because of damage to the retina. It occurs in “dry” and “wet” forms. It is a major cause of blindness and visual impairment in older adults...

, thymic involution
Thymic involution
One of the major characteristics of vertebrate immunology is thymic involution, the shrinking of the thymus with age, resulting in changes in the architecture of the thymus and a decrease in tissue mass...

, hepatocellular carcinoma
Hepatocellular carcinoma
Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer. Most cases of HCC are secondary to either a viral hepatitide infection or cirrhosis .Compared to other cancers, HCC is quite a rare tumor in the United States...

, and shortened lifespan.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease)

Mutations (over 150 identified to date) in this gene have been linked to familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a form of motor neuron disease caused by the degeneration of upper and lower neurons, located in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and the cortical neurons that provide their efferent input...

. The most frequent mutation are A4V (in the U.S.A.) and H46R (Japan). The most studied ALS mouse model is G93A. Rare transcript variants have been reported for this gene.

Virtually all known ALS-causing SOD1 mutations act in a dominant fashion; a single mutant copy of the SOD1 gene is sufficient to cause the disease. The exact molecular mechanism (or mechanisms) by which SOD1 mutations cause disease are unknown. It appears to be some sort of toxic gain of function, as many disease-associated SOD1 mutants (including G93A and A4V) retain enzymatic activity and Sod1 knockout mice do not develop ALS (although they do exhibit a strong age-dependent distal motor neuropathy).

A4V mutation

A4V (alanine
Alanine is an α-amino acid with the chemical formula CH3CHCOOH. The L-isomer is one of the 20 amino acids encoded by the genetic code. Its codons are GCU, GCC, GCA, and GCG. It is classified as a nonpolar amino acid...

 at codon 4 changed to valine
Valine is an α-amino acid with the chemical formula HO2CCHCH2. L-Valine is one of 20 proteinogenic amino acids. Its codons are GUU, GUC, GUA, and GUG. This essential amino acid is classified as nonpolar...

) is the most common ALS-causing mutation in the U.S. population, with approximately 50% of SOD1-ALS patients carrying the A4V mutation. Approximately 10 percent of all U.S. familial ALS cases are caused by heterozygous A4V mutations in SOD1. The mutation is rarely if ever found outside the Americas.

It was recently estimated that the A4V mutation occurred 540 generations (~12,000 years) ago. The haplotype surrounding the mutation suggests that the A4V mutation arose in the Asian ancestors of native Americans, who reached the Americas through the Bering Strait
Bering Strait
The Bering Strait , known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait between Cape Dezhnev, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, the easternmost point of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA, the westernmost point of the North American continent, with latitude of about 65°40'N,...


The A4V mutant belongs to the WT-like mutants. Patients with A4V mutations exhibit variable age of onset, but uniformly very rapid disease course, with average survival after onset of 1.4 years (versus 3–5 years with other dominant SOD1 mutations, and in some cases such as H46R, considerably longer). This survival is considerably shorter than non-mutant SOD1 linked ALS.

H46R mutation

H46R (Histidine
Histidine Histidine, an essential amino acid, has a positively charged imidazole functional group. It is one of the 22 proteinogenic amino acids. Its codons are CAU and CAC. Histidine was first isolated by German physician Albrecht Kossel in 1896. Histidine is an essential amino acid in humans...

 at codon 46 changed to Arginine
Arginine is an α-amino acid. The L-form is one of the 20 most common natural amino acids. At the level of molecular genetics, in the structure of the messenger ribonucleic acid mRNA, CGU, CGC, CGA, CGG, AGA, and AGG, are the triplets of nucleotide bases or codons that codify for arginine during...

) is the most common ALS-causing mutation in the Japanese population, with approximately 40% of Japanese SOD1-ALS patients carrying this mutation. H46R causes a profound loss of copper binding in the active site of SOD1, and as such, H46R is enzymatically inactive. The disease course of this mutation is extremely long, with the typically time from onset to death being over 15 years. Mouse models with this mutation do not exhibit the classical mitochondrial vacuolation pathology seen in G93A and G37R ALS mice and unlike G93A mice, defeciency of the major mitochondrial antioxidant enzyme, SOD2
Superoxide dismutase 2, mitochondrial, also known as SOD2, is an enzyme which in humans is encoded by the SOD2 gene.- Function :This gene is a member of the iron/manganese superoxide dismutase family. It encodes a mitochondrial matrix protein that forms a homotetramer and binds one manganese ion...

, has no effect on their disease course.

G93A mutation

G93A (glycine 93 changed to alanine) is a comparatively rare mutation, but has been studied very intensely as it was the first mutation to be modeled in mice. G93A is a pseudo-WT mutation that leaves the enzyme activity intact. Because of the ready availability of the G93A mouse from Jackson lab, many studies of potential drug targets and toxicity mechanisms have been carried out in this model. At least one private research institute ( ALS Therapy Development Institute
ALS Therapy Development Institute
The ALS Therapy Development Institute is a non-profit biotechnology company seeking effective treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis . It is a registered 501 non-profit organization in the United States...

 ) is conducting large scale drug screens exclusively in this mouse model. Whether findings are specific for G93A or applicable to all ALS causing SOD1 mutations is at present unknown. It has been argued that certain pathological features of the G93A mouse are due to overexpression artefacts, specifically those relating to mitochondrial vacuolation (the G93A mouse commonly used from the Jackson lab has over 20 copies of the human SOD1 gene). At least one study has found that certain features of pathology are idiosyncratic to G93A and not extrapolatable to all ALS causing mutations.


SOD1 has been shown to interact
Protein-protein interaction
Protein–protein interactions occur when two or more proteins bind together, often to carry out their biological function. Many of the most important molecular processes in the cell such as DNA replication are carried out by large molecular machines that are built from a large number of protein...

 with CCS
CCS (gene)
Copper chaperone for superoxide dismutase is a metalloprotein that in humans is encoded by the CCS gene.-Interactions:CCS has been shown to interact with SOD1 and APBA1.-Further reading:...

 and Bcl-2
Bcl-2 is the founding member of the Bcl-2 family of apoptosis regulator proteins encoded by the BCL2 gene. Bcl-2 derives its name from B-cell lymphoma 2, as it is the second member of a range of proteins initially described in chromosomal translocations involving chromosomes 14 and 18 in...


Further reading

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.