Hands, Sarah, Sinadinos, Christopher and Wyttenbach, Andreas
Polyglutamine gene function and dysfunction in the ageing brain
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA), 1779, (8), . (doi:10.1016/j.bbagrm.2008.05.008).
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The coordinated regulation of gene expression and protein interactions determines how mammalian nervous systems develop and retain function and plasticity over extended periods of time such as a human life span. By studying mutations that occur in a group of genes associated with chronic neurodegeneration, the polyglutamine (polyQ) disorders, it has emerged that CAG/glutamine stretches play important roles in transcriptional regulation and protein–protein interactions.
However, it is still unclear what the many structural and functional roles of CAG and other low-complexity sequences in eukaryotic genomes are, despite being the most commonly shared peptide fragments in such proteomes. In this review we examine the function of genes responsible for at least 10 polyglutamine disorders in relation to the nervous system and how expansion mutations lead to neuronal dysfunction, by particularly focusing on Huntington's disease (HD).
We argue that the molecular and cellular pathways that turn out to be dysfunctional during such diseases, as a consequence of a CAG expansion, are also involved in the ageing of the central nervous system. These are pathways that control protein degradation systems (including molecular chaperones), axonal transport, redox-homeostasis and bioenergetics. CAG expansion mutations confer novel properties on proteins that lead to a slow-progressing neuronal pathology and cell death similar to that found in other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
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