Identification of novel potentially toxic oligomers formed in vitro from mammalian-derived expanded huntingtin exon-1 protein.
ABSTRACT Huntington disease is a genetic neurodegenerative disorder that arises from an expanded polyglutamine region in the N terminus of the HD gene product, huntingtin. Protein inclusions comprised of N-terminal fragments of mutant huntingtin are a characteristic feature of disease, though are likely to play a protective role rather than a causative one in neurodegeneration. Soluble oligomeric assemblies of huntingtin formed early in the aggregation process are candidate toxic species in HD. In the present study, we established an in vitro system to generate recombinant huntingtin in mammalian cells. Using both denaturing and native gel analysis, we have identified novel oligomeric forms of mammalian-derived expanded huntingtin exon-1 N-terminal fragment. These species are transient and were not previously detected using bacterially expressed exon-1 protein. Importantly, these species are recognized by 3B5H10, an antibody that recognizes a two-stranded hairpin conformation of expanded polyglutamine believed to be associated with a toxic form of huntingtin. Interestingly, comparable oligomeric species were not observed for expanded huntingtin shortstop, a 117-amino acid fragment of huntingtin shown previously in mammalian cell lines and transgenic mice, and here in primary cortical neurons, to be non-toxic. Further, we demonstrate that expanded huntingtin shortstop has a reduced ability to form amyloid-like fibrils characteristic of the aggregation pathway for toxic expanded polyglutamine proteins. Taken together, these data provide a possible candidate toxic species in HD. In addition, these studies demonstrate the fundamental differences in early aggregation events between mutant huntingtin exon-1 and shortstop proteins that may underlie the differences in toxicity.
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ABSTRACT: Age-dependent neurodegenerative diseases progressively form aggregates containing both shared components (e.g., TDP-43, phosphorylated tau) and proteins specific to each disease. We investigated whether diverse neuropathies might have additional aggregation-prone proteins in common, discoverable by proteomics. Caenorhabditis elegans expressing unc-54p/Q40::YFP, a model of polyglutamine array diseases such as Huntington's, accrues aggregates in muscle 2-6 days posthatch. These foci, isolated on antibody-coupled magnetic beads, were characterized by high-resolution mass spectrometry. Three Q40::YFP-associated proteins were inferred to promote aggregation and cytotoxicity, traits reduced or delayed by their RNA interference knockdown. These RNAi treatments also retarded aggregation/cytotoxicity in Alzheimer's disease models, nematodes with muscle or pan-neuronal Aβ1-42 expression and behavioral phenotypes. The most abundant aggregated proteins are glutamine/asparagine-rich, favoring hydrophobic interactions with other random-coil domains. A particularly potent modulator of aggregation, CRAM-1/HYPK, contributed < 1% of protein aggregate peptides, yet its knockdown reduced Q40::YFP aggregates 72-86% (P < 10(-6) ). In worms expressing Aβ1-42 , knockdown of cram-1 reduced β-amyloid 60% (P < 0.002) and slowed age-dependent paralysis > 30% (P < 10(-6) ). In wild-type worms, cram-1 knockdown reduced aggregation and extended lifespan, but impaired early reproduction. Protection against seeded aggregates requires proteasome function, implying that normal CRAM-1 levels promote aggregation by interfering with proteasomal degradation of misfolded proteins. Molecular dynamic modeling predicts spontaneous and stable interactions of CRAM-1 (or human orthologs) with ubiquitin, and we verified that CRAM-1 reduces degradation of a tagged-ubiquitin reporter. We propose that CRAM-1 exemplifies a class of primitive chaperones that are initially protective and highly beneficial for early reproduction, but ultimately impair aggregate clearance and limit longevity. © 2014 The Authors. Aging Cell published by the Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.Aging Cell 12/2014; · 5.94 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease is a genetic neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expansion in a polyglutamine domain near the N-terminus of the huntingtin (htt) protein that results in the formation of protein aggregates. Here, htt aggregate structure has been examined using hydrogen–deuterium exchange techniques coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. The focus of the study is on the 17-residue N-terminal flanking region of the peptide that has been shown to alter htt aggregation kinetics and morphology. A top-down sequencing strategy employing electron transfer dissociation is utilized to determine the location of accessible and protected hydrogens. In these experiments, peptides aggregate in a deuterium-rich solvent at neutral pH and are subsequently subjected to deuterium–hydrogen back-exchange followed by rapid quenching, disaggregation, and tandem mass spectrometry analysis. Electrospray ionization of the peptide solution produces the [M + 5H]5+ to [M + 10H]10+ charge states and reveals the presence of multiple peptide sequences differing by single glutamine residues. The [M + 7H]7+ to [M + 9]9+ charge states corresponding to the full peptide are used in the electron transfer dissociation analyses. Evidence for protected residues is observed in the 17-residue N-terminal tract and specifically points to lysine residues as potentially playing a significant role in htt aggregation. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.Biological Mass Spectrometry 01/2015; 50(1). · 2.71 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In Huntington's disease, expansion of a CAG triplet repeat occurs in exon 1 of the huntingtin gene (HTT), resulting in a protein bearing>35 polyglutamine residues whose N-terminal fragments display a high propensity to misfold and aggregate. Recent data demonstrate that polyglutamine expansion results in conformational changes in the huntingtin protein (HTT), which likely influence its biological and biophysical properties. Developing assays to characterize and measure these conformational changes in isolated proteins and biological samples would advance the testing of novel therapeutic approaches aimed at correcting mutant HTT misfolding. Time-resolved Förster energy transfer (TR-FRET)-based assays represent high-throughput, homogeneous, sensitive immunoassays widely employed for the quantification of proteins of interest. TR-FRET is extremely sensitive to small distances and can therefore provide conformational information based on detection of exposure and relative position of epitopes present on the target protein as recognized by selective antibodies. We have previously reported TR-FRET assays to quantify HTT proteins based on the use of antibodies specific for different amino-terminal HTT epitopes. Here, we investigate the possibility of interrogating HTT protein conformation using these assays. By performing TR-FRET measurements on the same samples (purified recombinant proteins or lysates from cells expressing HTT fragments or full length protein) at different temperatures, we have discovered a temperature-dependent, reversible, polyglutamine-dependent conformational change of wild type and expanded mutant HTT proteins. Circular dichroism spectroscopy confirms the temperature and polyglutamine-dependent change in HTT structure, revealing an effect of polyglutamine length and of temperature on the alpha-helical content of the protein. The temperature- and polyglutamine-dependent effects observed with TR-FRET on HTT proteins represent a simple, scalable, quantitative and sensitive assay to identify genetic and pharmacological modulators of mutant HTT conformation, and potentially to assess the relevance of conformational changes during onset and progression of Huntington's disease.PLoS ONE 12/2014; 9(12):e112262. · 3.53 Impact Factor