Journal Article

Huntingtin-deficient zebrafish exhibit defects in iron utilization and development

Amanda L. Lumsden, Tanya L. Henshall, Sonia Dayan, Michael T. Lardelli and Robert I. Richards

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 16, issue 16, pages 1905-1920
Published in print August 2007 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online June 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI:
Huntingtin-deficient zebrafish exhibit defects in iron utilization and development

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Huntington's disease (HD) is one of nine neurodegenerative disorders caused by expansion of CAG repeats encoding polyglutamine in their respective, otherwise apparently unrelated proteins. Despite these proteins having widespread and overlapping expression patterns in the brain, a specific and unique subset of neurons exhibits particular vulnerability in each disease. It has been hypothesized that perturbation of normal protein function contributes to the specificity of neuronal vulnerability; however, the normal biological functions of many of these proteins including the HD gene product, Huntingtin (Htt), are unclear. To explore the roles of Htt, we have used antisense morpholino oligonucleotides to observe the effects of Htt deficiency in early zebrafish development. Knockdown of Htt expression resulted in a variety of developmental defects. Most notably, Htt-deficient zebrafish had hypochromic blood due to decreased hemoglobin production, despite the presence of iron within blood cells. Furthermore, transferrin receptor 1 transcripts were increased, suggesting cellular iron starvation. Provision of iron to the cytoplasm in a bio-available form restored hemoglobin production in Htt-deficient embryos. Since erythroid cells acquire iron via receptor-mediated endocytosis of transferrin, these results suggest a role for Htt in making endocytosed iron accessible for cellular utilization. Iron is required for oxidative energy production, and defects in iron homeostasis and energy metabolism are features of HD pathogenesis that are most pronounced in the major region of neurodegeneration. It is therefore plausible that perturbation of Htt's normal role in the iron pathway (by polyglutamine tract expansion) contributes to HD pathology, and particularly to its neuronal specificity.

Journal Article.  10383 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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