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      Inclusion body formation reduces levels of mutant huntingtin and the risk of neuronal death.

      Nature

      metabolism, Rats, Cell Survival, Cells, Cultured, Humans, Huntington Disease, genetics, pathology, Cell Line, Inclusion Bodies, Models, Biological, Mutation, Neostriatum, cytology, Nerve Tissue Proteins, chemistry, Neurons, Nuclear Proteins, Peptides, Animals, Cell Death

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          Abstract

          Huntington's disease is caused by an abnormal polyglutamine expansion within the protein huntingtin and is characterized by microscopic inclusion bodies of aggregated huntingtin and by the death of selected types of neuron. Whether inclusion bodies are pathogenic, incidental or a beneficial coping response is controversial. To resolve this issue we have developed an automated microscope that returns to precisely the same neuron after arbitrary intervals, even after cells have been removed from the microscope stage. Here we show, by survival analysis, that neurons die in a time-independent fashion but one that is dependent on mutant huntingtin dose and polyglutamine expansion; many neurons die without forming an inclusion body. Rather, the amount of diffuse intracellular huntingtin predicts whether and when inclusion body formation or death will occur. Surprisingly, inclusion body formation predicts improved survival and leads to decreased levels of mutant huntingtin elsewhere in a neuron. Thus, inclusion body formation can function as a coping response to toxic mutant huntingtin.

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          Most cited references 49

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          Exon 1 of the HD gene with an expanded CAG repeat is sufficient to cause a progressive neurological phenotype in transgenic mice.

          Huntington's disease (HD) is one of an increasing number of neurodegenerative disorders caused by a CAG/polyglutamine repeat expansion. Mice have been generated that are transgenic for the 5' end of the human HD gene carrying (CAG)115-(CAG)150 repeat expansions. In three lines, the transgene is ubiquitously expressed at both mRNA and protein level. Transgenic mice exhibit a progressive neurological phenotype that exhibits many of the features of HD, including choreiform-like movements, involuntary stereotypic movements, tremor, and epileptic seizures, as well as nonmovement disorder components. This transgenic model will greatly assist in an eventual understanding of the molecular pathology of HD and may open the way to the testing of intervention strategies.
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            Inhibition of mTOR induces autophagy and reduces toxicity of polyglutamine expansions in fly and mouse models of Huntington disease.

            Huntington disease is one of nine inherited neurodegenerative disorders caused by a polyglutamine tract expansion. Expanded polyglutamine proteins accumulate abnormally in intracellular aggregates. Here we show that mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is sequestered in polyglutamine aggregates in cell models, transgenic mice and human brains. Sequestration of mTOR impairs its kinase activity and induces autophagy, a key clearance pathway for mutant huntingtin fragments. This protects against polyglutamine toxicity, as the specific mTOR inhibitor rapamycin attenuates huntingtin accumulation and cell death in cell models of Huntington disease, and inhibition of autophagy has the converse effects. Furthermore, rapamycin protects against neurodegeneration in a fly model of Huntington disease, and the rapamycin analog CCI-779 improved performance on four different behavioral tasks and decreased aggregate formation in a mouse model of Huntington disease. Our data provide proof-of-principle for the potential of inducing autophagy to treat Huntington disease.
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              A monomeric red fluorescent protein.

              All coelenterate fluorescent proteins cloned to date display some form of quaternary structure, including the weak tendency of Aequorea green fluorescent protein (GFP) to dimerize, the obligate dimerization of Renilla GFP, and the obligate tetramerization of the red fluorescent protein from Discosoma (DsRed). Although the weak dimerization of Aequorea GFP has not impeded its acceptance as an indispensable tool of cell biology, the obligate tetramerization of DsRed has greatly hindered its use as a genetically encoded fusion tag. We present here the stepwise evolution of DsRed to a dimer and then either to a genetic fusion of two copies of the protein, i.e., a tandem dimer, or to a true monomer designated mRFP1 (monomeric red fluorescent protein). Each subunit interface was disrupted by insertion of arginines, which initially crippled the resulting protein, but red fluorescence could be rescued by random and directed mutagenesis totaling 17 substitutions in the dimer and 33 in mRFP1. Fusions of the gap junction protein connexin43 to mRFP1 formed fully functional junctions, whereas analogous fusions to the tetramer and dimer failed. Although mRFP1 has somewhat lower extinction coefficient, quantum yield, and photostability than DsRed, mRFP1 matures >10 times faster, so that it shows similar brightness in living cells. In addition, the excitation and emission peaks of mRFP1, 584 and 607 nm, are approximately 25 nm red-shifted from DsRed, which should confer greater tissue penetration and spectral separation from autofluorescence and other fluorescent proteins.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                15483602
                10.1038/nature02998

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