Abnormalities of Germ Cell Maturation and Sertoli Cell Cytoskeleton in Androgen Receptor 113 CAG Knock-In Mice Reveal Toxic Effects of the Mutant Protein

Department of Pathology, University of Michigan Medical School, 1301 Catherine, 4233 Medical Science 1, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.
American Journal Of Pathology (Impact Factor: 4.59). 02/2006; 168(1):195-204. DOI: 10.2353/ajpath.2006.050619
Source: PubMed


An unresolved question in the study of the polyglutamine neurodegenerative disorders is the extent to which partial loss of normal function of the mutant protein contributes to the disease phenotype. To address this, we studied Kennedy disease, a degenerative disorder of lower motor neurons caused by a CAG/glutamine expansion in the androgen receptor (Ar) gene. Signs of partial androgen insensitivity, including testicular atrophy and decreased fertility, are common in affected males, although the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we describe a knock-in mouse model that reproduces the testicular atrophy, diminished fertility, and systemic signs of partial androgen insensitivity that occur in Kennedy disease patients. Using this model, we demonstrate that the testicular pathology in this disorder is distinct from that mediated by loss of AR function. Testes pathology in 113 CAG knock-in mice was characterized by morphological abnormalities of germ cell maturation, decreased solubility of the mutant AR protein, and alterations of the Sertoli cell cytoskeleton, changes that are distinct from those produced by AR loss-of-function mutation in testicular feminization mutant mice. Our data demonstrate that toxic effects of the mutant protein mediate aspects of the Kennedy disease phenotype previously attributed to a loss of AR function.

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    • "Mice Derivation of AR113Q mice with a targeted Ar allele containing 113 CAG repeats in exon 1 was described previously (Yu et al., 2006b). Briefly, mice were generated by recombining a portion of human exon 1 (amino acids 31– 484) with the mouse Ar gene in CJ7 embryonic stem cells. "
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    ABSTRACT: Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is caused by the polyglutamine androgen receptor (polyQ-AR), a protein expressed by both lower motor neurons and skeletal muscle. Although viewed as a motor neuronopathy, data from patients and mouse models suggest that muscle contributes to disease pathogenesis. Here, we tested this hypothesis using AR113Q knockin and human bacterial artificial chromosome/clone (BAC) transgenic mice that express the full-length polyQ-AR and display androgen-dependent weakness, muscle atrophy, and early death. We developed antisense oligonucleotides that suppressed AR gene expression in the periphery but not the CNS after subcutaneous administration. Suppression of polyQ-AR in the periphery rescued deficits in muscle weight, fiber size, and grip strength, reversed changes in muscle gene expression, and extended the lifespan of mutant males. We conclude that polyQ-AR expression in the periphery is an important contributor to pathology in SBMA mice and that peripheral administration of therapeutics should be explored for SBMA patients.
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    • "Similar data have been obtained in spinal cord of ALS patients (Anagnostou et al., 2010). Finally, preliminary results obtained in our laboratory suggest that HspB8 expression is also increased at later stages of disease in the spinal cord of transgenic SBMA mice (knock-in mice developed by Prof Andrew Lieberman) (Jordan and Lieberman, 2008; Yu et al., 2006) (Rusmini et al, unpublished observation). Therefore, on the basis of the HspB8 mechanism of action proposed here, it is possible that HspB8 plays a protective role in affected motoneurons by facilitating the clearance of potentially neurotoxic misfolded proteins. "
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    ABSTRACT: Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is an X-linked motoneuron disease caused by an abnormal expansion of a tandem CAG repeat in exon 1 of the androgen receptor (AR) gene that results in an abnormally long polyglutamine tract (polyQ) in the AR protein. As a result, the mutant AR (ARpolyQ) misfolds, forming cytoplasmic and nuclear aggregates in the affected neurons. Neurotoxicity only appears to be associated with the formation of nuclear aggregates. Thus, improved ARpolyQ cytoplasmic clearance, which indirectly decreases ARpolyQ nuclear accumulation, has beneficial effects on affected motoneurons. In addition, increased ARpolyQ clearance contributes to maintenance of motoneuron proteostasis and viability, preventing the blockage of the proteasome and autophagy pathways that might play a role in the neuropathy in SBMA. The expression of heat shock protein B8 (HspB8), a member of the small heat shock protein family, is highly induced in surviving motoneurons of patients affected by motoneuron diseases, where it seems to participate in the stress response aimed at cell protection. We report here that HspB8 facilitates the autophagic removal of misfolded aggregating species of ARpolyQ. In addition, though HspB8 does not influence p62 and LC3 (two key autophagic molecules) expression, it does prevent p62 bodies formation, and restores the normal autophagic flux in these cells. Interestingly, trehalose, a well-known autophagy stimulator, induces HspB8 expression, suggesting that HspB8 might act as one of the molecular mediators of the proautophagic activity of trehalose. Collectively, these data support the hypothesis that treatments aimed at restoring a normal autophagic flux that result in the more efficient clearance of mutant ARpolyQ might produce beneficial effects in SBMA patients.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Neurobiology of aging
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    • "In contrast to the AR100Tfm mice, in the transgenic AR113Q mice, the polyQ AR was able to effectively masculinize the male mice, likely because the AR113Q is under the regulatory control of the mouse AR gene promoter. The AR113Q knock-in mice show signs of partial androgen insensitivity, including testicular atrophy and decreased fertility, which are seen in SBMA patients (Yu et al., 2006b). A striking age-dependent testicular pathology was observed in the AR113Q, which was distinct from the testicular atrophy seen in Tfm mice. "
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    ABSTRACT: Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA, Kennedy's disease), a late-onset neuromuscular disorder, is caused by expansion of the polymorphic polyglutamine tract in the androgen receptor (AR). The AR is a ligand-activated transcription factor, but plays roles in other cellular pathways. In SBMA, selective motor neuron degeneration occurs in the brainstem and spinal cord, thus the causes of neuronal dysfunction have been studied. However, pathogenic pathways in muscles may also be involved. Cultured cells, fly and mouse models are used to study the molecular mechanisms leading to SBMA. Both the structure of the polyglutamine-expanded AR (polyQ AR) and its interactions with other proteins are altered relative to the normal AR. The ligand-dependent translocation of the polyQ AR to the nucleus appears to be critical, as are interdomain interactions. The polyQ AR, or fragments thereof, can form nuclear inclusions, but their pathogenic or protective nature is unclear. Other data suggests soluble polyQ AR oligomers can be harmful. Post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation, acetylation, and ubiquitination influence AR function and modulate the deleterious effects of the polyQ AR. Transcriptional dysregulation is highly likely to be a factor in SBMA; deregulation of non-genomic AR signaling may also be involved. Studies on polyQ AR-protein degradation suggest inhibition of the ubiquitin proteasome system and changes to autophagic pathways may be relevant. Mitochondrial function and axonal transport may also be affected by the polyQ AR. Androgens, acting through the AR, can be neurotrophic and are important in muscle development; hence both loss of normal AR functions and gain of novel harmful functions by the polyQ AR can contribute to neurodegeneration and muscular atrophy. Thus investigations into polyQ AR function have shown that multiple complex mechanisms lead to the initiation and progression of SBMA.
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