Document Type


Publication Date



IOS Press

Source Publication

Journal of Huntington's Disease

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.3233/jhd-2012-129004


The Huntington's disease (HD) mutation leads to a complex process of Huntingtin (Htt) aggregation into multimeric species that eventually form visible inclusions in cytoplasm, nuclei and neuronal processes. One hypothesis is that smaller, soluble forms of amyloid proteins confer toxic effects and contribute to early cell dysfunction. However, analysis of mutant Htt aggregation intermediates to identify conformers that may represent toxic forms of the protein and represent potential drug targets remains difficult. We performed a detailed analysis of aggregation conformers in multiple in vitro, cell and ex vivo models of HD. Conformation-specific antibodies were used to identify and characterize aggregation species, allowing assessment of multiple conformers present during the aggregation process. Using a series of assays together with these antibodies, several forms could be identified. Fibrillar oligomers, defined as having a β-sheet rich conformation, are observed in vitro using recombinant protein and in protein extracts from cells in culture or mouse brain and shown to be globular, soluble and non-sedimentable structures. Compounds previously described to modulate visible inclusion body formation and reduce toxicity in HD models were also tested and consistently found to alter the formation of fibrillar oligomers. Interestingly, these compounds did not alter the rate of visible inclusion formation, indicating that fibrillar oligomers are not necessarily the rate limiting step of inclusion body formation. Taken together, we provide insights into the structure and formation of mutant Htt fibrillar oligomers that can be modulated by small molecules with protective potential in HD models.


Published version. Journal of Huntington's Disease, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2012): 119-132. DOI. © 2012 IOS Press. Used with permission.

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