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A role of mitochondrial complex II defects in genetic models of Huntington's disease expressing N-terminal fragments of mutant huntingtin.
Human Molecular Genetics
Publication types: Journal Article
Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by an abnormal expansion of a CAG repeat encoding a polyglutamine tract in the huntingtin (Htt) protein. The mutation leads to neuronal death through mechanisms which are still unknown. One hypothesis is that mitochondrial defects may play a key role. In support of this, the activity of mitochondrial complex II (C-II) is preferentially reduced in the striatum of HD patients. Here, we studied C-II expression in different genetic models of HD expressing N-terminal fragments of mutant Htt (mHtt). Western blot analysis showed that the expression of the 30 kDa Iron-Sulfur (Ip) subunit of C-II was significantly reduced in the striatum of the R6/1 transgenic mice, while the levels of the FAD containing catalytic 70 kDa subunit (Fp) were not significantly changed. Blue native gel analysis showed that the assembly of C-II in mitochondria was altered early in N171-82Q transgenic mice. Early loco-regional reduction in C-II activity and Ip protein expression was also demonstrated in a rat model of HD using intrastriatal injection of lentiviral vectors encoding mHtt. Infection of the rat striatum with a lentiviral vector coding the C-II Ip or Fp subunits induced a significant overexpression of these proteins that led to significant neuroprotection of striatal neurons against mHtt neurotoxicity. These results obtained in vivo support the hypothesis that structural and functional alterations of C-II induced by mHtt may play a critical role in the degeneration of striatal neurons in HD and that mitochondrial-targeted therapies may be useful in its treatment.
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