Tracking mutant huntingtin aggregation kinetics in cells reveals three major populations that include an invariant oligomer pool

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Olshina, Maya A, Angley, Lauren M, Ramdzan, Yasmin M, Tang, Jinwei, Bailey, Michael F, Hill, Andrew F ORCID: 0000-0001-5581-2354 and Hatters, Danny M ORCID: 0000-0002-9965-2847 (2010) Tracking mutant huntingtin aggregation kinetics in cells reveals three major populations that include an invariant oligomer pool. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 285 (28). pp. 21807-21816. ISSN 0021-9258


Huntington disease is caused by expanded polyglutamine sequences in huntingtin, which procures its aggregation into intracellular inclusion bodies (IBs). Aggregate intermediates, such as soluble oligomers, are predicted to be toxic to cells, yet because of a lack of quantitative methods, the kinetics of aggregation in cells remains poorly understood. We used sedimentation velocity analysis to define and compare the heterogeneity and flux of purified huntingtin with huntingtin expressed in mammalian cells under non-denaturing conditions. Non-pathogenic huntingtin remained as hydrodynamically elongated monomers in vitro and in cells. Purified polyglutamine-expanded pathogenic huntingtin formed elongated monomers (2.4 S) that evolved into a heterogeneous aggregate population of increasing size over time (100-6,000 S). However, in cells, mutant huntingtin formed three major populations: monomers (2.3 S), oligomers (mode s20,w = 140 S) and IBs (mode s20,w = 320,000 S). Strikingly, the oligomers did not change in size heterogeneity or in their proportion of total huntingtin over 3 days despite continued monomer conversion to IBs, suggesting that oligomers are rate-limiting intermediates to IB formation. We also determined how a chaperone known to modulate huntingtin toxicity, Hsc70, influences in-cell huntingtin partitioning. Hsc70 decreased the pool of 140 S oligomers but increased the overall flux of monomers to IBs, suggesting that Hsc70 reduces toxicity by facilitating transfer of oligomers into IBs. Together, our data suggest that huntingtin aggregation is streamlined in cells and is consistent with the 140 S oligomers, which remain invariant over time, as a constant source of toxicity to cells irrespective of total load of insoluble aggregates.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1074/jbc.M109.084434
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3207 Medical microbiology
Current > Division/Research > Chancellery
Keywords Huntington disease, Huntingtin, polyglutamine sequences, neurodegenerative disease
Citations in Scopus 100 - View on Scopus
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