Nucleocytoplasmic trafficking and transcription effects of huntingtin in Huntington's disease
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There are nine genetic neurodegenerative diseases caused by a similar genetic defect, a CAG DNA triplet-repeat expansion in the disease gene's open reading frame resulting in a polyglutamine expansion in the disease proteins. Despite the commonality of polyglutamine expansion, each of the polyglutamine diseases manifest as unique diseases, with some similarities, but important differences. These differences suggest that the context of the polyglutamine expansion is important to the mechanism of pathology of the disease proteins. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly paramount to understand the normal functions of these polyglutamine disease proteins, which include huntingtin, the polyglutamine-expanded protein in Huntington's disease (HD). Transcriptional dysregulation is seen in HD. Here we discuss the role of normal huntingtin in transcriptional regulation and misregulation in Huntington's disease in relation to potentially analogous model systems, and to other polyglutamine disease proteins. Huntingtin has functional roles in both the cytoplasm and the nucleus. One commonality of activity of polyglutamine disease proteins is at the level of protein dynamics and ability to import and export to and from the nucleus. Knowing the temporal location of huntingtin protein in response to signaling and neuronal communication could lead to valuable insights into an important trigger of HD pathology.
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