Elena Agostoni

Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati di Trieste, Trieste, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

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Publications (4)23.69 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Huntington disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the gene coding for huntingtin protein. Several mechanisms have been proposed by which mutant huntingtin (mHtt) may trigger striatal neurodegeneration, including mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and apoptosis. Furthermore, mHtt induces DNA damage and activates a stress response. In this context, p53 plays a crucial role in mediating mHtt toxic effects. Here we have dissected the pathway of p53 activation by mHtt in human neuronal cells and in HD mice, with the aim of highlighting critical nodes that may be pharmacologically manipulated for therapeutic intervention. We demonstrate that expression of mHtt causes increased phosphorylation of p53 on Ser46, leading to its interaction with phosphorylation-dependent prolyl isomerase Pin1 and consequent dissociation from the apoptosis inhibitor iASPP, thereby inducing the expression of apoptotic target genes. Inhibition of Ser46 phosphorylation by targeting homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 2 (HIPK2), PKCĪ“, or ataxia telangiectasia mutated kinase, as well as inhibition of the prolyl isomerase Pin1, prevents mHtt-dependent apoptosis of neuronal cells. These results provide a rationale for the use of small-molecule inhibitors of stress-responsive protein kinases and Pin1 as a potential therapeutic strategy for HD treatment.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2011; 108(44):17979-84. · 9.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Huntington disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expansion of polyglutamines in the first exon of huntingtin (HTT), which confers aggregation-promoting properties to amino-terminal fragments of the protein (N-HTT). Mutant N-HTT aggregates are enriched for ubiquitin and contain ubiquitin E3 ligases, thus suggesting a role for ubiquitination in aggregate formation. Here, we report that tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) binds to WT and polyQ-expanded N-HTT in vitro as well as to endogenous full-length proteins in mouse and human brain in vivo. Endogenous TRAF6 is recruited to cellular inclusions formed by mutant N-HTT. Transient overexpression of TRAF6 promotes WT and mutant N-HTT atypical ubiquitination with Lys6, Lys27, and Lys29 linkage formation. Both interaction and ubiquitination seem to be independent from polyQ length. In cultured cells, TRAF6 enhances mutant N-HTT aggregate formation, whereas it has no effect on WT N-HTT protein localization. Mutant N-HTT inclusions are enriched for ubiquitin staining only when TRAF6 and Lys6, Lys27, and Lys29 ubiquitin mutants are expressed. Finally, we show that TRAF6 is up-regulated in post-mortem brains from HD patients where it is found in the insoluble fraction. These results suggest that TRAF6 atypical ubiquitination warrants investigation in HD pathogenesis.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2011; 286(28):25108-25117. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Huntington disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expansion of polyglutamines in the first exon of huntingtin (HTT), which confers aggregation-promoting properties to amino-terminal fragments of the protein (N-HTT). Mutant N-HTT aggregates are enriched for ubiquitin and contain ubiquitin E3 ligases, thus suggesting a role for ubiquitination in aggregate formation. Here, we report that tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) binds to WT and polyQ-expanded N-HTT in vitro as well as to endogenous full-length proteins in mouse and human brain in vivo. Endogenous TRAF6 is recruited to cellular inclusions formed by mutant N-HTT. Transient overexpression of TRAF6 promotes WT and mutant N-HTT atypical ubiquitination with Lys(6), Lys(27), and Lys(29) linkage formation. Both interaction and ubiquitination seem to be independent from polyQ length. In cultured cells, TRAF6 enhances mutant N-HTT aggregate formation, whereas it has no effect on WT N-HTT protein localization. Mutant N-HTT inclusions are enriched for ubiquitin staining only when TRAF6 and Lys(6), Lys(27), and Lys(29) ubiquitin mutants are expressed. Finally, we show that TRAF6 is up-regulated in post-mortem brains from HD patients where it is found in the insoluble fraction. These results suggest that TRAF6 atypical ubiquitination warrants investigation in HD pathogenesis.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 03/2011; 286(28):25108-17. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The induction of Rrs1 expression is one of the earliest events detected in a presymptomatic knock-in mouse model of Huntington disease (HD). Rrs1 up-regulation fulfills the HD criteria of dominance, striatal specificity, and polyglutamine dependence. Here we show that mammalian Rrs1 is localized both in the nucleolus as well as in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of neurons. This dual localization is shared with its newly identified molecular partner 3D3/lyric. We then show that both genes are induced by ER stress in neurons. Interestingly, we demonstrate that ER stress is an early event in a presymptomatic HD mouse model that persists throughout the life span of the rodent. We further show that ER stress also occurs in postmortem brains of HD patients.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2009; 284(27):18167-73. · 4.65 Impact Factor