Journal Article

Inactivation of <i>Drosophila Apaf-1 related killer</i> suppresses formation of polyglutamine aggregates and blocks polyglutamine pathogenesis

Tzu-Kang Sang, Chenjian Li, Wencheng Liu, Antony Rodriguez, John M. Abrams, S. Lawrence Zipursky and George R. Jackson

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 14, issue 3, pages 357-372
Published in print February 2005 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online December 2004 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI:
Inactivation of Drosophila Apaf-1 related killer suppresses formation of polyglutamine aggregates and blocks polyglutamine pathogenesis

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Huntington's disease (HD) is caused by expansion of a polyglutamine tract near the N-terminal of huntingtin. Mutant huntingtin forms aggregates in striatum and cortex, where extensive cell death occurs. We used a Drosophila polyglutamine peptide model to assess the role of specific cell death regulators in polyglutamine-induced cell death. Here, we report that polyglutamine-induced cell death was dramatically suppressed in flies lacking Dark, the fly homolog of human Apaf-1, a key regulator of apoptosis. Dark appeared to play a role in the accumulation of polyglutamine-containing aggregates. Suppression of cell death, caspase activation and aggregate formation were also observed when mutant huntingtin exon 1 was expressed in homozygous dark mutant animals. Expanded polyglutamine induced a marked increase in expression of Dark, and Dark was observed to colocalize with ubiquitinated protein aggregates. Apaf-1 also was found to colocalize with huntingtin-containing aggregates in a murine model and HD brain, suggesting a common role for Dark/Apaf-1 in polyglutamine pathogenesis in invertebrates, mice and man. These findings suggest that limiting Apaf-1 activity may alleviate both pathological protein aggregation and neuronal cell death in HD.

Journal Article.  10471 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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