Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a neuroprotective role in mice harboring mutations of copper-zinc superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) in familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Conversely, the loss of VEGF expression through genetic depletion can give rise to a phenotype resembling ALS independent of SOD1 mutations. Here, we observe a profound downregulation of VEGF mRNA expression in spinal cords of G93A SOD1 mice that occurred early in the course of the disease. Using an in vitro culture model of glial cells expressing mutant SOD1, we demonstrate destabilization and downregulation of VEGF RNA with concomitant loss of protein expression that correlates with level of transgene expression. Using a luciferase reporter assay, we show that this molecular effect is mediated through a portion of the VEGF3′-untranslated region (UTR) that harbors a class II adenylate/uridylate-rich element. Other mutant forms of SOD1 produced a similar negative effect on luciferase RNA and protein expression. Mobility shift assay with a VEGF 3′-UTR probe reveals an aberrantly migrating complex that contains mutant SOD1. We further show that the RNA stabilizing protein, HuR (human antigen R), is translocated from nucleus to cytoplasm in mutant SOD1 cells in vitro and mouse motor neurons in vivo. In summary, our data suggest that mutant SOD1 gains a novel function, possibly by altering the ribonucleoprotein complex with the VEGF 3′-UTR. We postulate that the resultant dysregulation of VEGF posttranscriptional processing critically reduces the level of this neuroprotective growth factor and accelerates the neurodegenerative process in ALS. Copyright © 2007 Society for Neuroscience.