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Formation of Polyglutamine Inclusions in a Wide Range of Non-CNS Tissues in the HdhQ150 Knock-In Mouse Model of Huntington's Disease

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      BackgroundHuntington's disease (HD) is an inherited progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the ubiquitously expressed HD gene resulting in an abnormally long polyglutamine repeat in the huntingtin protein. Polyglutamine inclusions are a hallmark of the neuropathology of HD. We have previously shown that inclusion pathology is also present in the peripheral tissues of the R6/2 mouse model of HD which expresses a small N-terminal fragment of mutant huntingtin. To determine whether this peripheral pathology is a consequence of the aberrant expression of this N-terminal fragment, we extend this analysis to the genetically precise knock-in mouse model of HD, HdhQ150, which expresses mutant mouse huntingtin.Methodology/Principal FindingsWe have previously standardized the CAG repeat size and strain background of the R6/2 and HdhQ150 knock-in mouse models and found that they develop a comparable and widespread neuropathology. To determine whether HdhQ150 knock-in mice also develop peripheral inclusion pathology, homozygous HdhQ150/Q150 mice were perfusion fixed at 22 months of age, and tissues were processed for histology and immunohistochemistry with the anti-huntingtin antibody S830. The peripheral inclusion pathology was almost identical to that found in R6/2 mice at 12 weeks of age with minor differences in inclusion abundance.Conclusions/SignificanceThe highly comparable peripheral inclusion pathology that is present in both the R6/2 and HdhQ150 knock-in models of HD indicates that the presence of peripheral inclusions in R6/2 mice is not a consequence of the aberrant expression of an N-terminal huntingtin protein. It remains to be determined whether peripheral inclusions are a pathological feature of the human disease. Both mouse models carry CAG repeats that cause childhood disease in humans, and therefore, inclusion pathology may be a feature of the childhood rather than the adult forms of HD. It is important to establish the extent to which peripheral pathology causes the peripheral symptoms of HD from the perspective of a mechanistic understanding and future treatment options.

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      Most cited references 58

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      A novel gene containing a trinucleotide repeat that is expanded and unstable on Huntington's disease chromosomes. The Huntington's Disease Collaborative Research Group.

       M Shah,  N Datson,  L Srinidhi (1993)
      The Huntington's disease (HD) gene has been mapped in 4p16.3 but has eluded identification. We have used haplotype analysis of linkage disequilibrium to spotlight a small segment of 4p16.3 as the likely location of the defect. A new gene, IT15, isolated using cloned trapped exons from the target area contains a polymorphic trinucleotide repeat that is expanded and unstable on HD chromosomes. A (CAG)n repeat longer than the normal range was observed on HD chromosomes from all 75 disease families examined, comprising a variety of ethnic backgrounds and 4p16.3 haplotypes. The (CAG)n repeat appears to be located within the coding sequence of a predicted approximately 348 kd protein that is widely expressed but unrelated to any known gene. Thus, the HD mutation involves an unstable DNA segment, similar to those described in fragile X syndrome, spino-bulbar muscular atrophy, and myotonic dystrophy, acting in the context of a novel 4p16.3 gene to produce a dominant phenotype.
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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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          Aggregation of huntingtin in neuronal intranuclear inclusions and dystrophic neurites in brain.

          The cause of neurodegeneration in Huntington's disease (HD) is unknown. Patients with HD have an expanded NH2-terminal polyglutamine region in huntingtin. An NH2-terminal fragment of mutant huntingtin was localized to neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NIIs) and dystrophic neurites (DNs) in the HD cortex and striatum, which are affected in HD, and polyglutamine length influenced the extent of huntingtin accumulation in these structures. Ubiquitin was also found in NIIs and DNs, which suggests that abnormal huntingtin is targeted for proteolysis but is resistant to removal. The aggregation of mutant huntingtin may be part of the pathogenic mechanism in HD.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, King's College London School of Medicine, London, United Kingdom
            [2 ]Division of Cellular Pathology, Barts and the London NHS Trust, Royal London Hospital, London, United Kingdom
            [3 ]Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, Kings College London School of Medicine, London, United Kingdom
            Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan
            Author notes

            Conceived and designed the experiments: HM GPB. Performed the experiments: HM GDM. Analyzed the data: HM GDM. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: BW CH. Wrote the paper: HM GPB.

            Role: Editor
            PLoS One
            PLoS ONE
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            30 November 2009
            : 4
            : 11
            Moffitt et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
            Pages: 11
            Research Article
            Neurological Disorders
            Neurological Disorders/Movement Disorders
            Neurological Disorders/Neurogenetics
            Pathology/Cellular Pathology



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