Altered cholesterol homeostasis contributes to enhanced excitotoxicity in Huntington's disease.
ABSTRACT Recent findings suggest that altered cholesterol homeostasis may contribute to the pathophysiology of Huntington's disease (HD). To understand the underlying mechanisms, here we used a combination of two-photon microscopy, epifluorescence, and biochemical methods to visualize and quantify lipid distribution in cell cultures expressing mutant huntingtin. Such expression promotes lipid imbalance, and cholesterol accumulation in cellular and murine models and in HD-affected human brains. Interestingly, cells expressing mutant huntingtin also showed higher content of ordered domains in their plasma membranes. These findings correlated with high levels of caveolin-1 and glycosphingolipid GM1, two well-defined markers of cholesterol-enriched domains, at the cell surface. In addition, cells expressing mutant huntingtin showed increased localization of NMDA receptors with cholesterol-enriched domains, contributing to increased NMDA receptor susceptibility to excitotoxic insults. Treatment with simvastatin or β-cyclodextrin, two cholesterol-lowering drugs, reduced the content of ordered domains at the cell surface, which in turn, protected cells against NMDA-mediated excitotoxicity. Taken together, our results indicate that mutant huntingtin produces accumulation of cholesterol and alters its cellular distribution that contributes to NMDA-mediated excitotoxicity. Administration of drugs that recover this effect, such as simvastatin could be beneficial for the treatment of HD.
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ABSTRACT: Caveolae are 50-100 nm plasma membrane invaginations, which function in cell signaling, in transcytosis, and in regulating cellular cholesterol homeostasis. These subcompartments of the plasma membrane are characterized by the presence of caveolin proteins. Recent studies have indicated that caveolae may be involved in the regulation of cellular cholesterol efflux to high-density lipoproteins (HDL), as well as selective cholesteryl ester uptake mediated by scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI). In the present studies, we show that caveolin-1 expression in HEK-293T cells has no effect on SR-BI-mediated cellular cholesterol efflux to reconstituted HDL. However, SR-BI-mediated selective cholesteryl ester uptake is significantly inhibited by caveolin-1. Interestingly, we also found that SR-BI, but not CD36, can induce the dramatic stabilization of the caveolin-1 protein, independently of its transcriptional control. On the other hand, caveolin-1 has little effect on SR-BI stability, but clearly increases CD36 stability. Since SR-BI expression has been shown to increase cellular cholesterol levels, we next examined the effect of cholesterol itself on caveolin-1 stabilization and localization. When cells were loaded with cholesterol, we observed the dramatic stabilization of caveolin-1 with significant clustering of caveolin-1 at the cell surface. In addition, a palmitoylation-deficient caveolin-1 mutant was still responsive to cholesterol-induced stabilization, indicating that palmitoylation of caveolin-1 is not required for the cholesterol-induced stabilization of caveolin-1. These results suggest an important role for cholesterol and SR-BI in the regulation of caveolin functioning, especially in cell types such as endothelial cells and macrophages, which can be dramatically affected by changes in their cholesterol content during the development of atherosclerosis.Biochemistry 11/2002; 41(39):11931-40. · 3.38 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease is associated with an expanded sequence of CAG repeats in a gene on chromosome 4p16.3. However, neither the sensitivity of expanded CAG repeats in affected persons of different ethnic origins nor the specificity of such repeats for Huntington's disease as compared with other neuropsychiatric disorders has been determined. We studied 1007 patients with diagnosed Huntington's disease from 565 families and 43 national and ethnic groups. In addition, the length of the CAG repeat was determined in 113 control subjects with a family history of Alzheimer's disease (44 patients), schizophrenia (39), major depression (16), senile chorea (5), benign hereditary chorea (5), neuroacanthocytosis (2), and dentatorubropallidoluysian atrophy (2). The number of CAG repeats was also assessed in 1595 control chromosomes, with the size of adjacent polymorphic CCG trinucleotide repeats taken into account. Of 1007 patients with signs and symptoms compatible with a diagnosis of Huntington's disease, 995 had an expanded CAG repeat that included from 36 to 121 repeats (median, 44) (sensitivity, 98.8 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, 97.7 to 99.4 percent). There were no significant differences among national and ethnic groups in the number of repeats. No CAG expansion was found in the 110 control subjects with other neuropsychiatric disorders (specificity, 100 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, 95.2 to 100 percent). In 1581 of the 1595 control chromosomes (99.1 percent), the number of CAG repeats ranged from 10 to 29 (median, 18). In 12 control chromosomes (0.75 percent), intermediate-sized CAG sequences with 30 to 35 repeats were found, and 2 normal chromosomes unexpectedly had expanded CAG sequences, of 39 and 37 repeats. CAG trinucleotide expansion is the molecular basis of Huntington's disease worldwide and is a highly sensitive and specific marker for inheritance of the disease mutation.New England Journal of Medicine 06/1994; 330(20):1401-6. · 51.66 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Gene expression studies conducted with mouse models of Huntington's disease (HD) have revealed profound modifications in gene transcription. However, the complexity of in vivo tissue hampers definition of very early transcriptional modifications and does not allow discrimination between cell-autonomous changes and those resulting from intercellular activity processes. To identify early, cell-autonomous transcriptional changes, we compared gene expression profiles of clonal striata-derived cells expressing different N-terminal 548-amino-acid huntingtin fragments (with 26, 67, 105 or 118 glutamines) under the control of a doxycycline-regulated promoter. In these cells, mutant huntingtin did not form aggregates or cause cell death; therefore, the gene expression profiles report transcriptional changes reflecting early pathogenic events. We found that genes involved in cell signaling, transcription, lipid metabolism and vesicle trafficking were affected, in some cases, within 12 hours of mutant protein induction. Interestingly, this study revealed differential expression of a number of genes involved in cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism, suggesting that these metabolic pathways may play a role in HD pathogenesis.Human Molecular Genetics 09/2002; 11(17):1953-65. · 7.69 Impact Factor