Native mutant huntingtin in human brain: Evidence for prevalence of full-length monomer

ArticleinJournal of Biological Chemistry 287(16):13487-99 · February 2012with13 Reads
DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.286609 · Source: PubMed
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.
    • "Moreover, this level of interaction is so low (<2.5% of mutant htt is associated with normal htt) that it is unlikely that sequestration is contributing to potential loss-of-function phenotypes in vivo by reducing the steady-state levels of normal htt. Our co-immunoprecipitation data also suggest that full-length wild-type mouse htt (7Q-htt) does not interact stably with itself, and supports prior work suggesting that htt is predominantly a monomeric protein in vivo [33,48,49], with the caveat that our conditions of co-immunoprecipitation select for stable interactions, and a weak or transient association between htt monomers would likely escape detection. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background Huntington’s disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease that is caused by the expansion of a polyglutamine (polyQ) stretch within Huntingtin (htt), the protein product of the HD gene. Although studies in vitro have suggested that the mutant htt can act in a potentially dominant negative fashion by sequestering wild-type htt into insoluble protein aggregates, the role of the length of the normal htt polyQ stretch, and the adjacent proline-rich region (PRR) in modulating HD mouse model pathogenesis is currently unknown. Results We describe the generation and characterization of a series of knock-in HD mouse models that express versions of the mouse HD gene (Hdh) encoding N-terminal hemaglutinin (HA) or 3xFlag epitope tagged full-length htt with different polyQ lengths (HA7Q-, 3xFlag7Q-, 3xFlag20Q-, and 3xFlag140Q-htt) and substitution of the adjacent mouse PRR with the human PRR (3xFlag20Q- and 3xFlag140Q-htt). Using co-immunoprecipitation and immunohistochemistry analyses, we detect no significant interaction between soluble full-length normal 7Q- htt and mutant (140Q) htt, but we do observe N-terminal fragments of epitope-tagged normal htt in mutant htt aggregates. When the sequences encoding normal mouse htt’s polyQ stretch and PRR are replaced with non-pathogenic human sequence in mice also expressing 140Q-htt, aggregation foci within the striatum, and the mean size of htt inclusions are increased, along with an increase in striatal lipofuscin and gliosis. Conclusion In mice, soluble full-length normal and mutant htt are predominantly monomeric. In heterozygous knock-in HD mouse models, substituting the normal mouse polyQ and PRR with normal human sequence can exacerbate some neuropathological phenotypes.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2012
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is a monogenic disorder caused by an aberrant expansion of CAG repeats in the huntingtin gene (HTT). Pathogenesis is associated with expression of the mutant (mHTT) protein in the CNS, with its levels most likely related to disease progression and symptom severity. Since non-invasive methods to quantify HTT in the CNS do not exist, measuring amount of soluble HTT in peripheral cells represents an important step in development of disease-modifying interventions in HD. An ELISA assay using commercially available antibodies was developed to quantify HTT levels in complex matrices like mammalian cell cultures lysates and human samples. The immunoassay was optimized using a recombinant full-length HTT protein, and validated both on wild-type and mutant HTT species. The ability of the assay to detect significant variations of soluble HTT levels was evaluated using an HSP90 inhibitor that is known to enhance HTT degradation. Once optimized, the bioassay was applied to peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from HD patients, demonstrating good potential in tracking the disease course. The method described here represents a validated, simple and rapid bio-molecular assay to evaluate soluble HTT levels in blood cells as useful tool in disease and pharmacodynamic marker identification for observational and clinical trials.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Classical targeted drug discovery is based on targeting druggable targets, typically kinases and receptors of which the function can be agonized or antagonized. This strategy meets difficulties in cases such as Huntington's disease (HD) and similar neurodegenerative disorders, where the pathological function of the protein causing the disease is not clear. HD is caused by mutant HTT protein (mHTT) containing an expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) stretch, but the function of mHTT and how mHTT causes HD are unknown, thus preventing efforts to screen for mHTT 'inhibitors'. However, HD is appealing for drug discovery because the genetic mutation is clear, as compared with other major neurodegenerative disorders. Although mHTT is not a conventional 'druggable' target, one approach that appears promising is lowering its level, which might be applicable to other neurodegenerative disorders and proteinopathies linked to aberrant accumulation of proteins. Here we review mHTT lowering strategies that might provide promising avenues for drugging such diseases.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014
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