Article

Hunting Down Huntingtin

RNA Therapeutics Institute and the Neurotherapeutics Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, USA.
New England Journal of Medicine (Impact Factor: 54.42). 11/2012; 367(18):1753-4. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMcibr1209595
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: The known genetic cause of Huntington's disease (HD) has fueled considerable progress in understanding its pathobiology and the development of therapeutic approaches aimed at correcting specific changes linked to the causative mutation. Among the most promising is reducing expression of mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT) with RNA interference or antisense oligonucleotides; human trials are now being planned. Zinc-finger transcriptional repression is another innovative method to reduce mHTT expression. Modulation of mHTT phosphorylation, chaperone upregulation, and autophagy enhancement represent attempts to alter cellular homeostasis to favor removal of mHTT. Inhibition of histone deacetylases (HDACs) remains of interest; recent work affirms HDAC4 as a target but questions the assumed centrality of its catalytic activity in HD. Phosphodiesterase inhibition, aimed at restoring synaptic function, has progressed rapidly to human trials. Deranged cellular signaling provides several tractable targets, but specificity and complexity are challenges. Restoring neurotrophic support in HD remains a key potential therapeutic approach. with several approaches being pursued, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mimesis through tyrosine receptor kinase B (TrkB) agonism and monoclonal antibodies. An increasing understanding of the role of glial cells in HD has led to several new therapeutic avenues, including kynurenine monooxygenase inhibition, immunomodulation by laquinimod, CB2 agonism, and others. The complex metabolic derangements in HD remain under study, but no clear therapeutic strategy has yet emerged. We conclude that many exciting therapeutics are progressing through the development pipeline, and combining a better understanding of HD biology in human patients, with concerted medicinal chemistry efforts, will be crucial for bringing about an era of effective therapies. © 2014 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society
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    ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG trinucleotide repeat expansion in the huntingtin (HTT) gene. Disease pathogenesis derives, at least in part, from the long polyglutamine tract encoded by mutant HTT. Therefore, considerable effort has been dedicated to the development of therapeutic strategies that significantly reduce the expression of the mutant HTT protein. Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) targeted to the CAG repeat region of HTT transcripts have been of particular interest due to their potential capacity to discriminate between normal and mutant HTT transcripts. Here, we focus on phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers (PMOs), ASOs that are especially stable, highly soluble and non-toxic. We designed three PMOs to selectively target expanded CAG repeat tracts (CTG22, CTG25 and CTG28), and two PMOs to selectively target sequences flanking the HTT CAG repeat (HTTex1a and HTTex1b). In HD patient-derived fibroblasts with expanded alleles containing 44, 77 or 109 CAG repeats, HTTex1a and HTTex1b were effective in suppressing the expression of mutant and non-mutant transcripts. CTGn PMOs also suppressed HTT expression, with the extent of suppression and the specificity for mutant transcripts dependent on the length of the targeted CAG repeat and on the CTG repeat length and concentration of the PMO. PMO CTG25 reduced HTT-induced cytotoxicity in vitro and suppressed mutant HTT expression in vivo in the N171-82Q transgenic mouse model. Finally, CTG28 reduced mutant HTT expression and improved the phenotype of Hdh(Q7/Q150) knock-in HD mice. These data demonstrate the potential of PMOs as an approach to suppressing the expression of mutant HTT.
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