Jennifer Bradford

Emory University, Atlanta, GA, United States

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Publications (3)26.39 Total impact

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    Jennifer W Bradford, Shihua Li, Xiao-Jiang Li
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    ABSTRACT: The neurodegenerative polyglutamine diseases are caused by an expansion of unstable polyglutamine repeats in various disease proteins. Although these mutant proteins are expressed ubiquitously in neuronal and non-neuronal cells, they cause selective degeneration of specific neuronal populations. Recently, increasing evidence shows that polyglutamine disease proteins also affect non-neuronal cells. However, it remains unclear how the expression of polyglutamine proteins in non-neuronal cells contributes to the course of the polyglutamine diseases. Here, we discuss recent findings about the expression of mutant polyglutamine proteins in non-neuronal cells and their influence on neurological symptoms. Understanding the contribution of non-neuronal polyglutamine proteins to disease progression will help elucidate disease mechanisms and also help in the development of new treatment options.
    Cell Research 03/2010; 20(4):400-7. DOI:10.1038/cr.2010.32
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    ABSTRACT: Huntington disease (HD) is caused by an expansion of the polyglutamine (polyQ) repeat (>37Q) in huntingtin (htt), and age of onset is inversely correlated with the length of the polyQ repeat. Mutant htt with expanded polyQ is ubiquitously expressed in various types of cells, including glia, but causes selective neurodegeneration. Our recent study demonstrated that expression of the N-terminal mutant htt with a large polyQ repeat (160Q) in astrocytes is sufficient to induce neurological symptoms in mice (Bradford, J., Shin, J. Y., Roberts, M., Wang, C. E., Li, X.-J., and Li, S. H. (2009) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106, 22480-22485). Because glia-neuron interactions are critical for maintaining the normal function and survival of neurons in the brain and because mutant htt is more abundant in neurons than in glial cells, it is important to investigate whether glial htt can still contribute to HD pathology when mutant htt is abundantly expressed in neuronal cells. We generated transgenic mice that express mutant htt with 98Q in astrocytes. Unlike our recently generated htt-160Q transgenic mice, htt-98Q mice do not show obvious neurological phenotypes, suggesting that the length of the polyQ repeat determines the severity of glial dysfunction. However, htt-98Q mice show increased susceptibility to glutamate-induced seizure. Mice expressing mutant htt in astrocytes were mated with N171-82Q mice that express mutant htt primarily in neuronal cells. Double transgenic mice expressing mutant htt in both neuronal and glial cells display more severe neurological symptoms and earlier death than N171-82Q mice. These findings indicate a role of glial mutant htt in exacerbating HD neuropathology and underscore the importance of improving glial function in treating HD.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 02/2010; 285(14):10653-61. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M109.083287
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    ABSTRACT: Huntington disease (HD) is an inherited neurological disorder caused by a polyglutamine expansion in the protein huntingtin and is characterized by selective neurodegeneration that preferentially occurs in striatal medium spiny neurons. Because the medium spiny neurons are innervated abundantly by glutamatergic axons from cortical neurons, the preferential degeneration in the striatal neurons supports the glutamate excitotoxicity theory for HD pathogenesis. Thus, glutamate uptake by glia may be particularly important for preventing glutamate excitotoxicity in HD. Although mutant huntingtin is expressed ubiquitously in various types of cells, it accumulates and forms aggregates in fewer glial cells than in neuronal cells. It remains largely unknown whether and how mutant huntingtin in glia can contribute to the neurological symptoms of HD. We generated transgenic mice that express N-terminal mutant huntingtin in astrocytes, a major type of glial cell that remove extracellular glutamate in the brain. Although transgenic mutant huntingtin in astrocytes is expressed below the endogenous level, it can cause age-dependent neurological phenotypes in transgenic mice. Mice expressing mutant huntingtin show body weight loss, have motor function deficits, and die earlier than wild-type or control transgenic mice. We also found that mutant huntingtin in astrocytes decreases the expression of glutamate transporter by increasing its binding to Sp1 and reducing the association of Sp1 with the promoter of glutamate transporter. These results imply an important role for glial mutant huntingtin in HD pathology and suggest possibilities for treatment.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2009; 106(52):22480-5. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0911503106