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Early detection of exon 1 huntingtin aggregation in zQ175 brains by molecular and histological approaches



Smith, Edward J;

Sathasivam, Kirupa;

Landles, Christian;

Osborne, Georgina F;

Mason, Michael A;

Gomez-Paredes, Casandra;

Taxy, Bridget A;

Bates, Gillian P; + view all

Smith, Edward J;

Sathasivam, Kirupa;

Landles, Christian;

Osborne, Georgina F;

Mason, Michael A;

Gomez-Paredes, Casandra;

Taxy, Bridget A;

Milton, Rebecca E;

Ast, Anne;

Schindler, Franziska;

Zhang, Chuangchuang;

Duan, Wenzhen;

Wanker, Erich E;

Bates, Gillian P;

– view fewer

(2023)

Early detection of exon 1 huntingtin aggregation in zQ175 brains by molecular and histological approaches.

Brain Communications


, Article fcad010. 10.1093/braincomms/fcad010.

(In press).

Abstract

Huntingtin-lowering approaches that target HTT expression are a major focus for therapeutic intervention for Huntington’s disease. When the cytosine, adenine, guanine repeat is expanded, the huntingtin pre-mRNA is alternatively processed to generate the full-length HTT and HTT1a transcripts. HTT1a encodes the aggregation-prone and highly pathogenic exon 1 HTT protein. In evaluating HTT-lowering approaches, understanding how the targeting strategy modulates levels of both transcripts and the HTT protein isoforms that they encode will be essential. Given the aggregation-propensity of exon 1 HTT, the impact of a given strategy on the levels and subcellular location of aggregated HTT will need to be determined. We have developed and applied sensitive molecular approaches to monitor the levels of aggregated and soluble HTT isoforms in tissue lysates. We have used these, in combination with immunohistochemistry, to map the appearance and accumulation of aggregated HTT throughout the CNS of zQ175 mice, a model of Huntington’s disease frequently chosen for preclinical studies.


Aggregation analyses were performed on tissues from zQ175 and wild-type mice at monthly intervals from 1 to 6 months of age. We developed three homogeneous time-resolved fluorescence assays to track the accumulation of aggregated HTT and showed that two of these were specific for the exon 1 HTT protein. Collectively, the homogeneous time-resolved fluorescence assays detected HTT aggregation in the ten zQ175 CNS regions by 1–2 months of age. Immunohistochemistry with the polyclonal S830 anti-HTT antibody showed that nuclear HTT aggregation, in the form of a diffuse nuclear immunostain, could be visualized in the striatum, hippocampal CA1 region and layer IV of the somatosensory cortex by 2 months. That this diffuse nuclear immunostain represented aggregated HTT was confirmed by immunohistochemistry with a polyglutamine-specific antibody, which required formic acid antigen retrieval to expose its epitope. By 6 months of age, nuclear and cytoplasmic inclusions were widely distributed throughout the brain. Homogeneous time-resolved fluorescence analysis showed that the comparative levels of soluble exon 1 HTT between CNS regions correlated with those for HTT aggregation. We found that soluble exon 1 HTT levels decreased over the 6-month period, whilst those of soluble full-length mutant HTT remained unchanged, data that were confirmed for the cortex by immunoprecipitation and western blotting. These data support the hypothesis that exon 1 HTT initiates the aggregation process in knock-in mouse models and pave the way for a detailed analysis of HTT aggregation in response to HTT-lowering treatments.

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