Navigation Links
UCLA scientists find molecular switch to prevent Huntington's disease in mice
Date:12/24/2009

UCLA scientists have identified a molecular switch that prevents Huntington's disease from developing in mice. Published in the Dec. 24 edition of the journal Neuron, the discovery suggests a new approach to treating the genetic disorder, which ultimately leads to death in as little as 10 years.

Affecting one out of every 10,000 Americans, Huntington's progressively deprives patients of their ability to walk, speak, think clearly and swallow. People who inherit the disorder don't show symptoms until mid-life, after many have had children and unknowingly passed on the disease. Currently, there is no effective treatment to prevent the onset or slow the progression of the disease.

Huntington's is caused by a mutation in the polyglutamine (polyQ) region of a very large protein called huntingtin. Because huntingtin is found everywhere in the body, it is a challenge to study, and the function and mechanism behind the mutant protein still remain elusive.

"It's unclear how the mutant protein causes age-related and progressive loss of brain cells in patients with Huntington's disease," said senior study author X. William Yang, associate professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. "We explored whether regions of the protein besides the polyQ mutation play a role in the development of the disorder."

Collaborators Joan Steffan and Leslie Thompson, of the University of California, Irvine, showed that two amino acids near the beginning of the huntingtin protein can be modified by a chemical process called phosphorylation, which cells use to control protein function after the proteins have been made.

To test whether phosphorylation could influence Huntington's disease in a living animal, Yang's laboratory generated two mouse models to carry the polyQ HD mutation and modified the two amino acids in two different ways one to mimic phosphorylation, the other to prevent it.

The researchers found that preventing phosphorylation caused the mice to develop symptoms suggestive of Huntington's disease in humans. Mimicking phosphorylation, however, did not cause the disorder.

These results in mice have striking parallels to experiments performed by collaborator Ron Wetzel, of the University of Pittsburgh, who found that mimicking phosphorylation of a toxic fragment of mutant huntingtin reduces the protein's tendency to form clumps.

A separate UC Irvine study by Steffan and Thompson also suggests that phosphorylation of mutant huntingtin may help cells dispose of the toxic form of mutant huntingtin. Combined, these studies suggest new directions of research to understand the roles of huntingtin misfolding, clumping and clearance in the disease mechanism.

"Our study identified a critical molecular switch which lies next to the polyQ mutation in the huntingtin protein," Yang said. "We were surprised to find that subtle modification of only two amino acids in this very large protein can prevent the onset of disease. This finding suggests an exciting new avenue to develop therapeutics for Huntington's disease."


'/>"/>

Contact: Elaine Schmidt Haber
ehaber@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2272
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Turtles Christmas journey tracked by scientists
2. Scientists isolate new antifreeze molecule in Alaska beetle
3. Scientists use nanosensors for first time to measure cancer biomarkers in blood
4. Scripps Research scientists crack mystery of proteins dual function
5. Scientists identify natural anti-cancer defenses
6. Princeton scientists find way to catalog all that goes wrong in a cancer cell
7. The pitch of blue whale songs is declining around the world, scientists discover
8. Stand Up to Cancer funds high-risk/high-reward cancer research by 13 young scientists
9. Scientists discover gene module underlying atherosclerosis development
10. Scientists think killer petunias should join the ranks of carnivorous plants
11. Scientists gain new understanding of disease-causing bacteria
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/5/2017)... April 5, 2017 Today HYPR Corp. ... the server component of the HYPR platform is officially ... the end-to-end security architecture that empowers biometric authentication across ... has already secured over 15 million users across the ... of connected home product suites and physical access represent ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... WASHINGTON , April 3, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ ... single-cell precision engineering platform, detected a statistically ... cell product prior to treatment and objective ... highlight the potential to predict whether cancer ... prior to treatment, as well as to ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... , March 30, 2017 Trends, opportunities ... (physiological and behavioral), by technology (fingerprint, AFIS, iris recognition, ... recognition, and others), by end use industry (government and ... immigration, financial and banking, and others), and by region ... , Asia Pacific , and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... (ADC) therapeutics, today confirmed licensing rights that give it exclusive global access ... developed in collaboration with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). Additionally, an ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... SANTA CRUZ, Calif. , Oct. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... SBIR grant from the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single ... preparation kit for profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from ... Cell Analysis Program highlights the need to accelerate development ... "New techniques for ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... , ... October 09, 2017 , ... The award-winning American ... broadcast first quarter 2018. American Farmer airs Tuesdays at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , ... faced with the challenge of how to continue to feed a growing nation. At ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... and applications consulting for microscopy and surface analysis, Nanoscience Instruments is now ... Analytical offers a broad range of contract analysis services for advanced applications. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: