Journal Article

Genes and pathways affected by CAG<span class="smallCaps">-</span>repeat RNA-based toxicity in <i>Drosophila</i>

Shin-Yi Shieh and Nancy M. Bonini

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 20, issue 24, pages 4810-4821
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online September 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddr420

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Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 is one of the polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases, which are caused by a CAG-repeat expansion within the coding region of the associated genes. The CAG repeat specifies glutamine, and the expanded polyQ domain mutation confers dominant toxicity on the protein. Traditionally, studies have focused on protein toxicity in polyQ disease mechanisms. Recent findings, however, demonstrate that the CAG-repeat RNA, which encodes the toxic polyQ protein, also contributes to the disease in Drosophila. To provide insights into the nature of the RNA toxicity, we extracted brain-enriched RNA from flies expressing a toxic CAG-repeat mRNA (CAG100) and a non-toxic interrupted CAA/G mRNA repeat (CAA/G105) for microarray analysis. This approach identified 160 genes that are differentially expressed specifically in CAG100 flies. Functional annotation clustering analysis revealed several broad ontologies enriched in the CAG100 gene list, including iron ion binding and nucleotide binding. Intriguingly, transcripts for the Hsp70 genes, a powerful suppressor of polyQ and other human neurodegenerative diseases, were also upregulated. We therefore tested and showed that upregulation of heat shock protein 70 mitigates CAG-repeat RNA toxicity. We then assessed whether other modifiers of the pathogenic, expanded Ataxin-3 polyQ protein could also modify the CAG-repeat RNA toxicity. This approach identified the co-chaperone Tpr2, the transcriptional regulator Dpld, and the RNA-binding protein Orb2 as modifiers of both polyQ protein toxicity and CAG-repeat RNA-based toxicity. These findings suggest an overlap in the mechanisms of RNA and protein-based toxicity, providing insights into the pathogenicity of the RNA in polyQ disease.

Journal Article.  7026 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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