Hilda H Brown

McKnight Brain Institute, Gainesville, Florida, United States

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Publications (7)27.47 Total impact

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    Hilda H Brown, David R Borchelt
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) cause familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Disease causing mutations have diverse consequences on the activity and half-life of the protein, ranging from complete inactivity and short half-life to full activity and long-half-life. Uniformly, disease causing mutations induce the protein to misfold and aggregate and such aggregation tendencies are readily visualized by over-expression of the proteins in cultured cells. In the present study we have investigated the potential of using immunoblotting of proteins separated by Blue-Native gel electrophoresis (BNGE) as a means to identify soluble multimeric forms of mutant protein. We find that over-expressed wild-type human SOD1 (hSOD1) is generally not prone to form soluble high molecular weight entities that can be separated by BNGE. For ALS mutant SOD1, we observe that for all mutants examined (A4V, G37R, G85R, G93A, and L126Z), immunoblots of BN-gels separating protein solubilized by digitonin demonstrated varied amounts of high molecular weight immunoreactive entities. These entities lacked reactivity to ubiquitin and were partially dissociated by reducing agents. With the exception of the G93A mutant, these entities were not reactive to the C4F6 conformational antibody. Collectively, these data demonstrate that BNGE can be used to assess the formation of soluble multimeric assemblies of mutant SOD1.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(8):e104583. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Disruptions in metal ion homeostasis have been described in association with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for a number of years but the precise mechanism of involvement is poorly understood. Metal ions are especially important to familial ALS cases caused by mutations in the metalloenzyme copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1). To investigate the role of metals in aggregation of mutant SOD1, we have examined the localization of metal ions in a cell culture model of overexpression. Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHO-K1) were transfected to overexpress SOD1 fused to yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) to readily identify the transfected cells and the intracellular aggregates that develop in the cells expressing mutant or wild-type (WT) SOD1. The concentration and distribution of iron, copper, and zinc were determined for four SOD1 mutants (A4V, G37R, H80R, and D125H) as well as a WT SOD1 using X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM). Results demonstrated that the SOD1 aggregates were metal-deficient within the cells, which is consistent with recent in vitro studies. In addition, all SOD1 mutants showed significantly decreased copper content compared to the WT SOD1 cells, regardless of the mutant's ability to bind copper. These results suggest that SOD1 overexpression creates an unmet demand on the cell for copper. This is particularly true for the SOD1 mutants where copper delivery may also be impaired. Hence, the SOD1 mutants are less stable than WT SOD1 and if copper is limited, aggregate formation of the metal-deficient, mutant SOD1 protein occurs.
    Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 01/2014; 6:110. · 5.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: N-terminal cleavage products of mutant huntingtin (htt) generate pathologic neuronal inclusion bodies. The precise length of the htt fragment, termed Cp-A/1, that produces HD pathologic inclusions is unknown. Objective: We sought to elucidate the protein sequence elements within the N-terminus of htt that mediate its proteolysis based on a model in which engineered htt fragments terminating at residue 171 are cleaved to produce Cp-A/1 fragments. Methods: We expressed htt N171 cDNAs harboring a series of experimental mutations in the presumptive cleavage site that generates Cp-A/1 in cells to identify cleavage resistant mutants of htt N171. One of these constructs was expressed in mice, followed by analysis using immunoblots of brain extracts and immunohistochemistry of transgenic mouse brain tissues. Results: Using the HEK293 cell model, mutagenesis studies mapped the cleavage site in htt N171 to sequences between residues 105-114. Mutation of 8 positively charged residues (H, K, R) located between residues 88 and 114 to alanine to neutralize the charge also blocked the generation of Cp-A/1 like fragments. Transgenic mice expressing this latter construct, termed N171-82Q-N8, developed phenotypes similar to previously characterized N171-82Q transgenic mice, including rotarod deficiency, intranuclear inclusions, and premature death. Surprisingly, the N171-82Q-N8 protein was efficiently cleaved in vivo to produce Cp-A/1 fragments that accumulated as insoluble inclusions. Conclusion: Mutagenesis of htt to identify critical amino acids that direct its cleavage predicted a role for charged residues in the sequence flanking the presumptive cleavage site. However, the role for these residues could not be confirmed in vivo. The basis for the discrepancy between predicted outcomes in HEK293 cells and the mouse models remain unresolved, but the data provide another validation of the hypothesis that Cp-A/1 fragments of mutant htt can induce HD-like phenotypes.
    Journal of Huntington's disease. 01/2014; 3(1):73-86.
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The Cu-binding capacity of SOD1 has spawned hypotheses that implicate metal-mediated production of reactive species as a potential mechanism of toxicity. In past experiments, we have tested such hypotheses by mutating residues in SOD1 that normally coordinate the binding of Cu, finding that such mutants retain the capacity to induce motor neuron disease. We now describe the lack of disease in mice that express a variant of human SOD1 in which residues that coordinate the binding of Cu and Zn have been mutated (SODMD). SODMD encodes three disease-causing and four experimental mutations that ultimately eliminate all histidines involved in the binding of metals; and includes one disease-causing and one experimental mutation that eliminate secondary metal binding at C6 and C111. We show that the combined effect of these mutations produces a protein that is unstable but does not aggregate on its own, is not toxic, and does not induce disease when co-expressed with high levels of wild-type SOD1. In cell culture models, we determine that the combined mutation of C6 and C111 to G and S, respectively, dramatically reduces the aggregation propensity of SODMD and may account for the lack of toxicity for this mutant.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 02/2012; 121(3):475-85. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pathologic aggregates of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) harboring mutations linked to familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS) have been shown to contain aberrant intermolecular disulfide cross-links. In prior studies, we observed that intermolecular bonding was not necessary in the formation of detergent- insoluble SOD1 complexes by mutant SOD1, but we were unable to assess whether this type of bonding may be important for pathologic inclusion formation. In the present study, we visually assess the formation of large inclusions by fusing mutant SOD1 to yellow fluorescent protein (YFP). Experimental constructs possessing mutations at all cysteine residues in SOD1 (sites 6, 57, 111, and 146 to F,S,Y,R or G,S,Y,R, respectively) were shown to maintain a high propensity of inclusion formation despite the inability to form disulfide cross-links. Interestingly, although aggregates form when all cysteines were mutated, double mutants of the ALS mutation C6G with an experimental mutation C111S exhibited low aggregation propensity. Overall, this study is an extension of previous work demonstrating that cysteine residues in mutant SOD1 play a role in modulating aggregation and that intermolecular disulfide bonds are not required to produce large intracellular inclusion-like structures.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(10):e47838. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: N-terminal fragments of mutant huntingtin (htt) that terminate between residues 90-115, termed cleavage product A or 1 (cp-A/1), form intracellular and intranuclear inclusion bodies in the brains of patients with Huntington's disease (HD). These fragments appear to be proteolytic products of the full-length protein. Here, we use an HEK293 cell culture model to investigate huntingtin proteolytic processing; previous studies of these cells have demonstrated cleavage of htt to cp-A/1 like htt fragments. Recombinant N-terminal htt fragments, terminating at residue 171 (also referred to as cp-B/2 like), were efficiently cleaved to produce cp-A/1 whereas fragments representing endogenous caspase, calpain, and metalloproteinase cleavage products, terminating between residues 400-600, were inefficiently cleaved. Using cysteine-labeling techniques and antibody binding mapping, we localized the C-terminus of the cp-A/1 fragments produced by HEK293 cells to sequences minimally limited by cysteine 105 and an antibody epitope composed of residues 115-124. A combination of genetic and pharmacologic approaches to inhibit potential proteases, including γ-secretase and calpain, proved ineffective in preventing production of cp-A/1. Our findings indicate that HEK293 cells express a protease that is capable of efficiently cleaving cp-B/2 like fragments of htt with normal or expanded glutamine repeats. For reasons that remain unclear, this protease cleaves longer htt fragments, with normal or expanded glutamine expansions, much less efficiently. The protease in HEK293 cells that is capable of generating a cp-A/1 like htt fragment may be a novel protease with a high preference for a cp-B/2-like htt fragment as substrate.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(12):e50750. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies have implicated an N-terminal caspase-6 cleavage product of mutant huntingtin (htt) as an important mediator of toxicity in Huntington's disease (HD). To directly assess the consequences of such fragments on neurologic function, we produced transgenic mice that express a caspase-6 length N-terminal fragment of mutant htt (N586) with both normal (23Q) and disease (82Q) length glutamine repeats. In contrast to mice expressing N586-23Q, mice expressing N586-82Q accumulate large cytoplasmic inclusion bodies that can be visualized with antibodies to epitopes throughout the N586 protein. However, biochemical analyses of aggregated mutant huntingtin in these mice demonstrated that the inclusion bodies are composed largely of a much smaller htt fragment (terminating before residue 115), with lesser amounts of full-length N586-82Q fragments. Mice expressing the N586-82Q fragment show symptoms typical of previously generated mice expressing mutant huntingtin fragments, including failure to maintain weight, small brain weight and reductions in specific mRNAs in the striatum. Uniquely, these N586-82Q mice develop a progressive movement disorder that includes dramatic deficits in motor performance on the rotarod and ataxia. Our findings suggest that caspase-6-derived fragments of mutant htt are capable of inducing novel HD-related phenotypes, but these fragments are not terminal cleavage products as they are subject to further proteolysis. In this scenario, mutant htt fragments derived from caspase 6, or possibly other proteases, could mediate HD pathogenesis via a 'hit and run' type of mechanism in which caspase-6, or other larger N-terminal fragments, mediate a neurotoxic process before being cleaved to a smaller fragment that accumulates pathologically.
    Human Molecular Genetics 07/2011; 20(14):2770-82. · 7.69 Impact Factor