[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that recognize sites of complementarity of target messenger RNAs, resulting in transcriptional regulation and translational repression of target genes. In Huntington's disease (HD), a neurodegenerative disease caused by a trinucleotide repeat expansion, miRNA dyregulation has been reported, which may impact gene expression and modify the progression and severity of HD.
We performed next-generation miRNA sequence analysis in prefrontal cortex (Brodmann Area 9) from 26 HD, 2 HD gene positive, and 36 control brains. Neuropathological information was available for all HD brains, including age at disease onset, CAG-repeat size, Vonsattel grade, and Hadzi-Vonsattel striatal and cortical scores, a continuous measure of the extent of neurodegeneration. Linear models were performed to examine the relationship of miRNA expression to these clinical features, and messenger RNA targets of associated miRNAs were tested for gene ontology term enrichment.
We identified 75 miRNAs differentially expressed in HD brain (FDR q-value <0.05). Among the HD brains, nine miRNAs were significantly associated with Vonsattel grade of neuropathological involvement and three of these, miR-10b-5p, miR-10b-3p, and miR-302a-3p, significantly related to the Hadzi-Vonsattel striatal score (a continuous measure of striatal involvement) after adjustment for CAG length. Five miRNAs (miR-10b-5p, miR-196a-5p, miR-196b-5p, miR-10b-3p, and miR-106a-5p) were identified as having a significant relationship to CAG length-adjusted age of onset including miR-10b-5p, the mostly strongly over-expressed miRNA in HD cases. Although prefrontal cortex was the source of tissue profiled in these studies, the relationship of miR-10b-5p expression to striatal involvement in the disease was independent of cortical involvement. Correlation of miRNAs to the clinical features clustered by direction of effect and the gene targets of the observed miRNAs showed association to processes relating to nervous system development and transcriptional regulation.
These results demonstrate that miRNA expression in cortical BA9 provides insight into striatal involvement and support a role for these miRNAs, particularly miR-10b-5p, in HD pathogenicity. The miRNAs identified in our studies of postmortem brain tissue may be detectable in peripheral fluids and thus warrant consideration as accessible biomarkers for disease stage, rate of progression, and other important clinical characteristics of HD.
BMC Medical Genomics 12/2015; 8(1):83. DOI:10.1186/s12920-015-0083-3 · 2.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Huntington's disease (HD) is a dominantly inherited disease caused by a CAG expansion mutation in HTT. The age at onset of clinical symptoms is determined primarily by the length of this CAG expansion but is also influenced by other genetic and/or environmental factors.
Recently, through genome-wide association studies (GWAS) aimed at discovering genetic modifiers, we identified loci associated with age at onset of motor signs that are significant at the genome-wide level. However, many additional HD modifiers may exist but may not have achieved statistical significance due to limited power.
In order to disseminate broadly the entire GWAS results and make them available to complement alternative approaches, we have developed the internet website "GeM MOA" where genetic association results can be searched by gene name, SNP ID, or genomic coordinates of a region of interest.
Users of the Genetic Modifiers of Motor Onset Age (GeM MOA) site can therefore examine support for association between any gene region and age at onset of HD motor signs. GeM MOA's interactive interface also allows users to navigate the surrounding region and to obtain association p-values for individual SNPs.
Our website conveys a comprehensive view of the genetic landscape of modifiers of HD from the existing GWAS, and will provide the means to evaluate the potential influence of genes of interest on the onset of HD. GeM MOA is freely available at https://www.hdinhd.org/.
Journal of Huntington's disease 09/2015; 4(3):279-284. DOI:10.3233/JHD-150169
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The HTT CAG expansion mutation causes Huntington's Disease and is associated with a wide range of cellular consequences, including altered metabolism. The mutant allele is expressed widely, in all tissues, but the striatum and cortex are especially vulnerable to its effects. To more fully understand this tissue-specificity, early in the disease process, we asked whether the metabolic impact of the mutant CAG expanded allele in heterozygous B6.HdhQ111/+ mice would be common across tissues, or whether tissues would have tissue-specific responses and whether such changes may be affected by diet. Specifically, we cross-sectionally examined steady state metabolite concentrations from a range of tissues (plasma, brown adipose tissue, cerebellum, striatum, liver, white adipose tissue), using an established liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry pipeline, from cohorts of 8 month old mutant and wild-type littermate mice that were fed one of two different high-fat diets. The differential response to diet highlighted a proportion of metabolites in all tissues, ranging from 3% (7/219) in the striatum to 12% (25/212) in white adipose tissue. By contrast, the mutant CAG-expanded allele primarily affected brain metabolites, with 14% (30/219) of metabolites significantly altered, compared to wild-type, in striatum and 11% (25/224) in the cerebellum. In general, diet and the CAG-expanded allele both elicited metabolite changes that were predominantly tissue-specific and non-overlapping, with evidence for mutation-by-diet interaction in peripheral tissues most affected by diet. Machine-learning approaches highlighted the accumulation of diverse lipid species as the most genotype-predictive metabolite changes in the striatum. Validation experiments in cell culture demonstrated that lipid accumulation was also a defining feature of mutant HdhQ111 striatal progenitor cells. Thus, metabolite-level responses to the CAG expansion mutation in vivo were tissue specific and most evident in brain, where the striatum featured signature accumulation of a set of lipids including sphingomyelin, phosphatidylcholine, cholesterol ester and triglyceride species. Importantly, in the presence of the CAG mutation, metabolite changes were unmasked in peripheral tissues by an interaction with dietary fat, implying that the design of studies to discover metabolic changes in HD mutation carriers should include metabolic perturbations.
PLoS ONE 08/2015; 10(8):e0134465. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0134465 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington’s disease (HD) is a dominant neurodegenerative disorder that is due to expansion of an unstable HTT CAG repeat for which genome-wide genetic scans are now revealing chromosome regions that contain disease-modifying genes. We have explored a novel human–mouse cross-species functional prioritisation approach, by evaluating the HD modifier 6q23–24 linkage interval. This unbiased strategy employs C57BL/6J (B6J) HdhQ111 knock-in mice, replicates of the HD mutation, and the C57BL/6J-chr10A/J/NaJ chromosome substitution strain (CSS10), in which only chromosome 10 (chr10), in synteny with the human 6q23–24 region, is derived from the A/J (AJ) strain. Crosses were performed to assess the possibility of dominantly acting chr10 AJ-B6J variants of strong effect that may modulate CAG-dependent HdhQ111/+ phenotypes. Testing of F1 progeny confirmed that a single AJ chromosome had a significant effect on the rate of body weight gain and in HdhQ111 mice the AJ chromosome was associated subtle alterations in somatic CAG instability in the liver and the formation of intra-nuclear inclusions, as well as DARPP-32 levels, in the striatum. These findings in relatively small cohorts are suggestive of dominant chr10 AJ-B6 variants that may modify effects of the CAG expansion, and encourage a larger study with CSS10 and sub-strains. This cross-species approach may therefore be suited to functional in vivo prioritisation of genomic regions harbouring genes that can modify the early effects of the HD mutation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives
Huntington's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms that are caused by huntingtin gene (HTT) CAG trinucleotide repeat alleles of 36 or more units. A greater than expected prevalence of incompletely penetrant HTT CAG repeat alleles observed among individuals diagnosed with major depressive disorder raises the possibility that another mood disorder, bipolar disorder, could likewise be associated with Huntington's disease.Methods
We assessed the distribution of HTT CAG repeat alleles in a cohort of individuals with bipolar disorder. HTT CAG allele sizes from 2,229 Caucasian individuals diagnosed with DSM-IV bipolar disorder were compared to allele sizes in 1,828 control individuals from multiple cohorts.ResultsWe found that HTT CAG repeat alleles > 35 units were observed in only one of 4,458 chromosomes from individuals with bipolar disorder, compared to three of 3,656 chromosomes from control subjects.Conclusions
These findings do not support an association between bipolar disorder and Huntington's disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The CAG repeat expansion in the Huntington's disease gene HTT extends a polyglutamine tract in mutant huntingtin that enhances its ability to facilitate polycomb repressive complex 2
(PRC2). To gain insight into this dominant gain of function, we mapped histone modifications genome-wide across an isogenic
panel of mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) and neuronal progenitor cell (NPC) lines, comparing the effects of Htt null and different size Htt CAG mutations. We found that Htt is required in ESC for the proper deposition of histone H3K27me3 at a subset of ‘bivalent’ loci but in NPC it is needed at
‘bivalent’ loci for both the proper maintenance and the appropriate removal of this mark. In contrast, Htt CAG size, though changing histone H3K27me3, is prominently associated with altered histone H3K4me3 at ‘active’ loci. The
sets of ESC and NPC genes with altered histone marks delineated by the lack of huntingtin or the presence of mutant huntingtin,
though distinct, are enriched in similar pathways with apoptosis specifically highlighted for the CAG mutation. Thus, the
manner by which huntingtin function facilitates PRC2 may afford mutant huntingtin with multiple opportunities to impinge upon
the broader machinery that orchestrates developmentally appropriate chromatin status.
Human Molecular Genetics 01/2015; DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddv006 · 6.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In patients with Huntington's disease (HD), the protein huntingtin (Htt) has an expanded polyglutamine (poly-Q) tract. HD results in early loss of medium spiny neurons in the striatum, which impairs motor and cognitive functions. Identifying the physiological role and molecular functions of Htt may yield insight into HD pathogenesis. We found that Htt promotes signaling by mTORC1 [mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1] and that this signaling is potentiated by poly-Q-expanded Htt. Knocking out Htt in mouse embryonic stem cells or human embryonic kidney cells attenuated amino acid-induced mTORC1 activity, whereas overexpressing wild-type or poly-Q-expanded Htt in striatal neuronal cells increased basal mTOR activity. Striatal cells expressing endogenous poly-Q-expanded Htt showed an increase in the number and size of mTOR puncta on the perinuclear regions compared to cells expressing wild-type Htt. Pull-down experiments indicated that amino acids stimulated the interaction of Htt and the guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) Rheb (a protein that stimulates mTOR activity), and that Htt forms a ternary complex with Rheb and mTOR. Pharmacologically inhibiting PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase) or knocking down Rheb abrogated mTORC1 activity induced by expression of a poly-Q-expanded amino-terminal Htt fragment. Moreover, striatum-specific deletion of TSC1, encoding tuberous sclerosis 1, a negative regulator of mTORC1, accelerated the onset of motor coordination abnormalities and caused premature death in an HD mouse model. Together, our findings demonstrate that mutant Htt contributes to the pathogenesis of HD by enhancing mTORC1 activity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG expansion mutation in HTT, the gene encoding huntingtin. Evidence from both human genotype–phenotype relationships and mouse model systems suggests
that the mutation acts by dysregulating some normal activity of huntingtin. Recent work in the mouse has revealed a role for
huntingtin in epigenetic regulation during development. Here, we examine the role of the Drosophila huntingtin ortholog (dhtt) in chromatin regulation in the development of the fly. Although null dhtt mutants display no overt phenotype, we found that dhtt acts as a suppressor of position-effect variegation (PEV), suggesting that it influences chromatin organization. We demonstrate
that dhtt affects heterochromatin spreading in a PEV model by modulating histone H3K9 methylation levels at the heterochromatin–euchromatin
boundary. To gain mechanistic insights into how dhtt influences chromatin function, we conducted a candidate genetic screen using RNAi lines targeting known PEV modifier genes.
We found that dhtt modifies phenotypes caused by knockdown of a number of key epigenetic regulators, including chromatin-associated proteins,
histone demethylases (HDMs) and methyltransferases. Notably, dhtt strongly modifies phenotypes resulting from loss of the HDM dLsd1, in both the ovary and wing, and we demonstrate that dhtt appears to act as a facilitator of dLsd1 function in regulating
global histone H3K4 methylation levels. These findings suggest that a fundamental aspect of huntingtin function in heterochromatin/euchromatin
organization is evolutionarily conserved across phyla.
Human Molecular Genetics 08/2014; 24(2). DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddu446 · 6.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: The CAG triplet repeat expansion mutation in the HTT locus, which results in neurodegeneration in Huntington's disease, elongates a polyglutamine tract in huntingtin, a HEAT/HEAT-like protein that has been highly structurally conserved through evolution. In several organisms, huntingtin is necessary for proper cell-cell adhesion and normal development. Objective: Dictyostelium discoideum huntingtin null (htt−) cells display a variety of developmental abnormalities and completely fail to acquire EDTA-resistant homotypic cell adhesion during starvation in suspension culture. Methods: Here, we have assessed the hypothesis that htt may be a genetic interactor of csaA, a major regulator of EDTA-resistant homotypic cell adhesion in D. discoideum. Immunoblot analysis demonstrated that csaA protein expression is dysregulated in htt− cells. Results: Unexpectedly, csaA overexpression, previously shown to rescue csaA− cell adhesion, failed to rescue the htt− adhesion defect. Thus, while htt was required for proper expression of the csaA protein, csaA overexpression was not sufficient to confer EDTA-resistant adhesion in the context of the htt− genetic background in contrast to parental cells. This implies a novel role for htt in conferring csaA-dependent, EDTA-resistant cell adhesion that warrants further investigation. Calcium supplementation restored both endogenous csaA protein levels and EDTA-resistant adhesion in htt− cells. Conclusions: Our data suggests the existence of an additional mechanism that overcomes the EDTA-resistant adhesion defect of htt− cells in the early development of D. discoideum.
Journal of Huntington's disease 08/2014; 3(3). DOI:10.3233/JHD-140112
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The length of the huntingtin (HTT) CAG repeat is strongly correlated with both age at onset of Huntington's disease (HD) symptoms and age at death of HD patients. Dichotomous analysis comparing HD to controls is widely used to study the effects of HTT CAG repeat expansion. However, a potentially more powerful approach is a continuous analysis strategy that takes advantage of all of the different CAG lengths, to capture effects that are expected to be critical to HD pathogenesis.
We used continuous and dichotomous approaches to analyze microarray gene expression data from 107 human control and HD lymphoblastoid cell lines. Of all probes found to be significant in a continuous analysis by CAG length, only 21.4% were so identified by a dichotomous comparison of HD versus controls. Moreover, of probes significant by dichotomous analysis, only 33.2% were also significant in the continuous analysis. Simulations revealed that the dichotomous approach would require substantially more than 107 samples to either detect 80% of the CAG-length correlated changes revealed by continuous analysis or to reduce the rate of significant differences that are not CAG length-correlated to 20% (n = 133 or n = 206, respectively). Given the superior power of the continuous approach, we calculated the correlation structure between HTT CAG repeat lengths and gene expression levels and created a freely available searchable website, "HD CAGnome," that allows users to examine continuous relationships between HTT CAG and expression levels of ∼20,000 human genes.
Our results reveal limitations of dichotomous approaches compared to the power of continuous analysis to study a disease where human genotype-phenotype relationships strongly support a role for a continuum of CAG length-dependent changes. The compendium of HTT CAG length-gene expression level relationships found at the HD CAGnome now provides convenient routes for discovery of candidates influenced by the HD mutation.
PLoS ONE 04/2014; 9(4):e95556. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0095556 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transcriptional dysregulation has long been recognized as central to the pathogenesis of Huntington's disease (HD). MicroRNAs (miRNAs) represent a major system of post-transcriptional regulation, by either preventing translational initiation or by targeting transcripts for storage or for degradation. Using next-generation miRNA sequencing in prefrontal cortex (Brodmann Area 9) of twelve HD and nine controls, we identified five miRNAs (miR-10b-5p, miR-196a-5p, miR-196b-5p, miR-615-3p and miR-1247-5p) up-regulated in HD at genome-wide significance (FDR q-value<0.05). Three of these, miR-196a-5p, miR-196b-5p and miR-615-3p, were expressed at near zero levels in control brains. Expression was verified for all five miRNAs using reverse transcription quantitative PCR and all but miR-1247-5p were replicated in an independent sample (8HD/8C). Ectopic miR-10b-5p expression in PC12 HTT-Q73 cells increased survival by MTT assay and cell viability staining suggesting increased expression may be a protective response. All of the miRNAs but miR-1247-5p are located in intergenic regions of Hox clusters. Total mRNA sequencing in the same samples identified fifteen of 55 genes within the Hox cluster gene regions as differentially expressed in HD, and the Hox genes immediately adjacent to the four Hox cluster miRNAs as up-regulated. Pathway analysis of mRNA targets of these miRNAs implicated functions for neuronal differentiation, neurite outgrowth, cell death and survival. In regression models among the HD brains, huntingtin CAG repeat size, onset age and age at death were independently found to be inversely related to miR-10b-5p levels. CAG repeat size and onset age were independently inversely related to miR-196a-5p, onset age was inversely related to miR-196b-5p and age at death was inversely related to miR-615-3p expression. These results suggest these Hox-related miRNAs may be involved in neuroprotective response in HD. Recently, miRNAs have shown promise as biomarkers for human diseases and given their relationship to disease expression, these miRNAs are biomarker candidates in HD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by the expansion of a CAG trinucleotide repeat in the HTT gene encoding huntingtin. The disease has an insidious course, typically progressing over 10-15 years until death. Currently there is no effective disease-modifying therapy. To better understand the HD pathogenic process we have developed genetic HTT CAG knock-in mouse models that accurately recapitulate the HD mutation in man. Here, we describe results of a broad, standardized phenotypic screen in 10-46 week old heterozygous HdhQ111 knock-in mice, probing a wide range of physiological systems. The results of this screen revealed a number of behavioral abnormalities in HdhQ111/+ mice that include hypoactivity, decreased anxiety, motor learning and coordination deficits, and impaired olfactory discrimination. The screen also provided evidence supporting subtle cardiovascular, lung, and plasma metabolite alterations. Importantly, our results reveal that a single mutant HTT allele in the mouse is sufficient to elicit multiple phenotypic abnormalities, consistent with a dominant disease process in patients. These data provide a starting point for further investigation of several organ systems in HD, for the dissection of underlying pathogenic mechanisms and for the identification of reliable phenotypic endpoints for therapeutic testing.
PLoS ONE 11/2013; 8(11):e80923. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0080923 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Huntington's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, typically with clinical manifestations in adult years, caused by an expanded polyglutamine-coding repeat in HTT. There are no treatments that delay or prevent the onset or progression of this devastating disease.
Objective and methods:
In order to study its pre-symptomatic molecular progression and provide a large mammalian model for determining natural history of the disease and for therapeutic testing, we generated and previously reported on lines of transgenic sheep carrying a full length human HTT cDNA transgene, with expression driven by a minimal HTT promoter. We report here further characterization of our preferred line, OVT73.
This line reliably expresses the expanded human huntingtin protein at modest, but readily detectable levels throughout the brain, including the striatum and cortex. Transmission of the 73 unit glutamine coding repeat was relatively stable over three generations. At the first time-point of a longitudinal study, animals sacrificed at 6 months (7 transgenic, 7 control) showed reduced striatum GABAA α1 receptor, and globus pallidus leu-enkephalin immunoreactivity. Two of three 18 month old animals sacrificed revealed cortical neuropil aggregates. Furthermore, neuronal intranuclear inclusions were identified in the piriform cortex of a single 36 month old animal in addition to cortical neuropil aggregates.
Taken together, these data indicate that the OVT73 transgenic sheep line will progressively reveal early HD pathology and allow therapeutic testing over a period of time relevant to human patients.
Journal of Huntington's disease 09/2013; 2(3):279-295. DOI:10.3233/JHD-130067
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor, cognitive, and behavioral disturbances. It is caused by the expansion of the HTT CAG repeat, which is the major determinant of age at onset (AO) of motor symptoms. Aberrant function of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors and/or overexposure to dopamine has been suggested to cause significant neurotoxicity, contributing to HD pathogenesis. We used genetic association analysis in 1,628 HD patients to evaluate candidate polymorphisms in N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subtype genes (GRIN2A rs4998386 and rs2650427, and GRIN2B rs1806201) and functional polymorphisms in genes in the dopamine pathway (DAT1 3' UTR 40-bp variable number tandem repeat (VNTR), DRD4 exon 3 48-bp VNTR, DRD2 rs1800497, and COMT rs4608) as potential modifiers of the disease process. None of the seven polymorphisms tested was found to be associated with significant modification of motor AO, either in a dominant or additive model, after adjusting for ancestry. The results of this candidate-genetic study therefore do not provide strong evidence to support a modulatory role for these variations within glutamatergic and dopaminergic genes in the AO of HD motor manifestations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The genetics of complex disease produce alterations in the molecular interactions of cellular pathways whose collective effect may become clear through the organized structure of molecular networks. To characterize molecular systems associated with late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD), we constructed gene-regulatory networks in 1,647 postmortem brain tissues from LOAD patients and nondemented subjects, and we demonstrate that LOAD reconfigures specific portions of the molecular interaction structure. Through an integrative network-based approach, we rank-ordered these network structures for relevance to LOAD pathology, highlighting an immune- and microglia-specific module that is dominated by genes involved in pathogen phagocytosis, contains TYROBP as a key regulator, and is upregulated in LOAD. Mouse microglia cells overexpressing intact or truncated TYROBP revealed expression changes that significantly overlapped the human brain TYROBP network. Thus the causal network structure is a useful predictor of response to gene perturbations and presents a framework to test models of disease mechanisms underlying LOAD.