Article

Caspase-6 Activity in a BACHD Mouse Modulates Steady-State Levels of Mutant Huntingtin Protein But Is Not Necessary for Production of a 586 Amino Acid Proteolytic Fragment

The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, CA 94945, USA.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.34). 05/2012; 32(22):7454-65. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6379-11.2012
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Huntington's disease (HD) is caused by a mutation in the huntingtin (htt) gene encoding an expansion of glutamine repeats at the N terminus of the Htt protein. Proteolysis of Htt has been identified as a critical pathological event in HD models. In particular, it has been postulated that proteolysis of Htt at the putative caspase-6 cleavage site (at amino acid Asp-586) plays a critical role in disease progression and pathogenesis. However, whether caspase-6 is indeed the essential enzyme that cleaves Htt at this site in vivo has not been determined. To evaluate, we crossed the BACHD mouse model with a caspase-6 knock-out mouse (Casp6(-/-)). Western blot and immunocytochemistry confirmed the lack of caspase-6 protein in Casp6(-/-) mice, regardless of HD genotype. We predicted the Casp6(-/-) mouse would have reduced levels of caspase-6 Htt fragments and increased levels of full-length Htt protein. In contrast, we found a significant reduction of full-length mutant Htt (mHtt) and fragments in the striatum of BACHD Casp6(-/-) mice. Importantly, we detected the presence of Htt fragments consistent with cleavage at amino acid Asp-586 of Htt in the BACHD Casp6(-/-) mouse, indicating that caspase-6 activity cannot fully account for the generation of the Htt 586 fragment in vivo. Our data are not consistent with the hypothesis that caspase-6 activity is critical in generating a potentially toxic 586 aa Htt fragment in vivo. However, our studies do suggest a role for caspase-6 activity in clearance pathways for mHtt protein.

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    • "Additionally , improved performance on the rotarod was shown for BACHD/ Casp6−/− mice (Gafni et al., 2012). Importantly, the mHTT-586 fragment is still present in BACHD/Casp6−/− mice, albeit at reduced levels by immunohistochemical analysis (Gafni et al., 2012). This suggests that other proteases may be capable of cleaving mHTT in the context of a constitutive knockout of Casp6 in the mouse. "
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    ABSTRACT: Huntington Disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by an elongated CAG repeat in the huntingtin (HTT) gene that encodes a polyglutamine tract in the HTT protein. Proteolysis of the mutant HIT protein (mHTT) has been detected in human and murine HD brains and is implicated in the pathogenesis of HD. Of particular importance is the site at amino acid (aa) 586 that contains a caspase-6 (Casp6) recognition motif. Activation of Casp6 occurs presymptomatically in human HD patients and the inhibition of mHTT proteolysis at aa586 in the YAC128 mouse model results in the full rescue of HD-like phenotypes. Surprisingly, Casp6 ablation in two different HD mouse models did not completely prevent the generation of this fragment, and therapeutic benefits were limited, questioning the role of Casp6 in the disease. We have evaluated the impact of the loss of Casp6 in the YAC128 mouse model of HD. Levels of the mHTT-586 fragment are reduced but not absent in the absence of Casp6 and we identify caspase 8 as an alternate enzyme that can generate this fragment. In vivo, the ablation of Casp6 results in a partial rescue of body weight gain, normalized IGF-1 levels, a reversal of the depression-like phenotype and decreased HIT levels. In the YAC128/Casp6-/- striatum there is a concomitant reduction in p62 levels, a marker of autophagic activity, suggesting increased autophagic clearance. These results implicate the HTT-586 fragment as a key contributor to certain features of HD, irrespective of the enzyme involved in its generation.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Neurobiology of Disease
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    • "One factor that may influence the motor phenotype of BAC-225Q mice is body weight loss (Fig. 2). It was shown that decreased body weight correlates negatively with latency to fall in rotarod experiments[19]and is associated with higher motor performance in open field testing[20]. Finally, high levels of neuropil Htt aggregates and loss of diffuse nuclear Htt aggregate staining between 6 months and 12 months (Fig. 1C) correlates with the amelioration of the motor phenotype in BAC-225Q mice. "
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    ABSTRACT: Unusually large CAG repeat expansions (>60) in exon one of Huntingtin (HTT) are invariably associated with a juvenile-onset form of Huntington's disease (HD), characterized by a more extensive and rapidly progressing neuropathology than the more prevalent adult-onset form. However, existing mouse models of HD that express the full-length Htt gene with CAG repeat lengths associated with juvenile HD (ranging between ~75 to ~150 repeats in published models) exhibit selective neurodegenerative phenotypes more consistent with adult-onset HD. Objective: To determine if a very large CAG repeat (>200) in full-length Htt elicits neurodegenerative phenotypes consistent with juvenile HD. Using a …bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) system, we generated mice expressing full-length mouse Htt with ~225 CAG repeats under control of the mouse Htt promoter. Mice were characterized using behavioral, neuropathological, biochemical and brain imaging methods. BAC-225Q mice exhibit phenotypes consistent with a subset of features seen in juvenile-onset HD: very early motor behavior abnormalities, reduced body weight, widespread and progressive increase in Htt aggregates, gliosis, and neurodegeneration. Early striatal pathology was observed, including reactive gliosis and loss of dopamine receptors, prior to detectable volume loss. HD-related blood markers of impaired energy metabolism and systemic inflammation were also increased. Aside from an age-dependent progression of diffuse nuclear aggregates at 6 months of age to abundant neuropil aggregates at 12 months of age, other pathological and motor phenotypes showed little to no progression. The HD phenotypes present in animals 3 to 12 months of age make the BAC-225Q mice a unique and stable model of full-length mutant Htt associated phenotypes, including body weight loss, behavioral impairment and HD-like neurodegenerative phenotypes characteristic of juvenile-onset HD and/or late-stage adult-onset HD.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Journal of Huntington's disease
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    • "Moreover, medium spiny neurons (MSNs) expressing caspase-6 resistant mHtt showed a decreased susceptibility for NMDAR-induced excitotoxicity and no caspase-6 activation compared to MSNs expressing unmodified mHtt [56] [57] [58]. By contrast, two caspase-6 knockout HD mouse models showed that production of a 586 amino acid derived proteolytic fragment was not prevented in the brain, disagreeing with a direct involvement of caspase-6 in mHtt cleavage [59] [60]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The history of polyglutamine diseases dates back approximately 20 years to the discovery of a polyglutamine repeat in the androgen receptor of SBMA followed by the identification of similar expansion mutations in Huntington’s disease, SCA1, DRPLA, and the other spinocerebellar ataxias. This common molecular feature of polyglutamine diseases suggests shared mechanisms in disease pathology and neurodegeneration of disease specific brain regions. In this review, we discuss the main pathogenic pathways including proteolytic processing, nuclear shuttling and aggregation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and clearance of misfolded polyglutamine proteins and point out possible targets for treatment.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · BioMed Research International
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