Native mutant huntingtin in human brain: Evidence for prevalence of full-length monomer
Huntington disease (HD) is caused by polyglutamine expansion in the N terminus of huntingtin (htt). Analysis of human postmortem brain lysates by SDS-PAGE and Western blot reveals htt as full-length and fragmented. Here we used Blue Native PAGE (BNP) and Western blots to study native htt in human postmortem brain. Antisera against htt detected a single band broadly migrating at 575–850 kDa in control brain and at 650–885 kDa in heterozygous and Venezuelan homozygous HD brains. Anti-polyglutamine antisera detected full-length mutant htt in HD brain. There was little htt cleavage even if lysates were pretreated with trypsin, indicating a property of native htt to resist protease cleavage. A soluble mutant htt fragment of about 180 kDa was detected with anti-htt antibody Ab1 (htt-(1–17)) and increased when lysates were treated with denaturants (SDS, 8 m urea, DTT, or trypsin) before BNP. Wild-type htt was more resistant to denaturants. Based on migration of in vitro translated htt fragments, the 180-kDa segment terminated ≈htt 670–880 amino acids. If second dimension SDS-PAGE followed BNP, the 180-kDa mutant htt was absent, and 43–50 kDa htt fragments appeared. Brain lysates from two HD mouse models expressed native full-length htt; a mutant fragment formed if lysates were pretreated with 8 m urea + DTT. Native full-length mutant htt in embryonic HD140Q/140Q mouse primary neurons was intact during cell death and when cell lysates were exposed to denaturants before BNP. Thus, native mutant htt occurs in brain and primary neurons as a soluble full-length monomer.