Many neurodegenerative diseases are linked to amyloid aggregation. In Huntington’s disease (HD), neurotoxicity correlates with an increased aggregation propensity of a polyglutamine (polyQ) expansion in exon 1 of mutant huntingtin protein (mHtt). Here we establish how the domains flanking the polyQ tract shape the mHtt conformational landscape in vitro and in neurons. In vitro, the flanking domains have opposing effects on the conformation and stabilities of oligomers and amyloid fibrils. The N-terminal N17 promotes amyloid fibril formation, while the C-terminal Proline Rich Domain destabilizes fibrils and enhances oligomer formation. However, in neurons both domains act synergistically to engage protective chaperone and degradation pathways promoting mHtt proteostasis. Surprisingly, when proteotoxicity was assessed in rat corticostriatal brain slices, either flanking region alone sufficed to generate a neurotoxic conformation, while the polyQ tract alone exhibited minimal toxicity. Linking mHtt structural properties to its neuronal proteostasis should inform new strategies for neuroprotection in polyQ- expansion diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Neuroscience
- General Immunology and Microbiology
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology