UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Wild-type huntingtin ameliorates striatal neuronal atrophy but does not prevent other abnormalities in the YAC128 mouse model of Huntington disease Van Raamsdonk, Jeremy M; Pearson, Jacqueline; Murphy, Zoe; Hayden, Michael R; Leavitt, Blair R


Background. Huntington disease (HD) is an adult onset neurodegenerative disorder caused by a polyglutamine expansion in the huntingtin (htt) protein. Htt function is essential for embryonic survival as well as normal function during the postnatal period. In addition to having roles in transcription and transport, recent evidence demonstrates that wild-type htt is neuroprotective in vivo. To determine whether treatment with wild-type htt would be beneficial in HD, we crossed the YAC128 mouse model of HD with mice that over-express wild-type htt (YAC18 mice) to generate YAC128 mice that over-express wild-type htt (YAC18/128 mice). Results YAC18/128 mice were found to express mutant htt at the same level as YAC128 mice and wild-type htt at the same level as YAC18 mice. YAC18/128 mice show no significant behavioural improvement compared to YAC128 mice in the rotarod test of motor coordination or in an automated open field test. In the brain, YAC18/128 mice show no significant improvement in striatal volume, striatal neuronal numbers or striatal DARPP-32 expression compared to YAC128 mice. In contrast, striatal neuronal cross-sectional area showed significant improvement in YAC18/128 mice compared to YAC128 mice. Conclusion While the over-expression of wild-type htt results in a mild improvement in striatal neuropathology in YAC128 mice, our findings suggest that treatment with wild-type htt may not be sufficient to ameliorate the symptoms of HD in this model.

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