The Huntington's disease (HD) CAG repeat, encoding a polymorphic glutamine tract in huntingtin, is inversely correlated with cellular energy level, with alleles over ∼37 repeats leading to the loss of striatal neurons. This early HD neuronal specificity can be modeled by respiratory chain inhibitor 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP) and, like 3-NP, mutant huntingtin has been proposed to directly influence the mitochondrion, via interaction or decreased PGC-1α expression. We have tested this hypothesis by comparing the gene expression changes due to mutant huntingtin accurately expressed in STHdh Q111/Q111 cells with the changes produced by 3-NP treatment of wild-type striatal cells. In general, the HD mutation did not mimic 3-NP, although both produced a state of energy collapse that was mildly alleviated by the PGC-1α-coregulated nuclear respiratory factor 1 (Nrf-1). Moreover, unlike 3-NP, the HD CAG repeat did not significantly alter mitochondrial pathways in STHdhQ111/Q111 cells, despite decreased Ppargc1a expression. Instead, the HD mutation enriched for processes linked to huntingtin normal function and Nf-κB signaling. Thus, rather than a direct impact on the mitochondrion, the polyglutamine tract may modulate some aspect of huntingtin's activity in extra-mitochondrial energy metabolism. Elucidation of this HD CAG-dependent pathway would spur efforts to achieve energy-based therapeutics in HD. © 2007 Lee et al.
Lee, J. M., Ivanova, E. V., Ihn, S. S., Cashorali, T., Kohane, I., Gusella, J. F., & MacDonald, M. E. (2007). Unbiased gene expression analysis implicates the huntingtin polyglutamine tract in extra-mitochondrial energy metabolism. PLoS Genetics, 3(8), 1397–1406. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.0030135