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Molecular Psychiatry

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DOI: 10.1038/mp.2015.81


Huntington’s disease (HD), a progressive neurodegenerative disease, is caused by an expanded CAG triplet repeat producing a mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT) with a polyglutamine-repeat expansion. Onset of symptoms in mutant huntingtin gene-carrying individuals remains unpredictable. We report that synthetic polyglutamine oligomers and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from BACHD transgenic rats and from human HD subjects can seed mutant huntingtin aggregation in a cell model and its cell lysate. Our studies demonstrate that seeding requires the mutant huntingtin template and may reflect an underlying prion-like protein propagation mechanism. Light and cryo-electron microscopy show that synthetic seeds nucleate and enhance mutant huntingtin aggregation. This seeding assay distinguishes HD subjects from healthy and non-HD dementia controls without overlap (blinded samples). Ultimately, this seeding property in HD patient CSF may form the basis of a molecular biomarker assay to monitor HD and evaluate therapies that target mHTT.


Accepted version. Molecular Psychiatry, Vol. 20 (2015): 1286-1293. DOI. © 2015 Springer. Used with permission.

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