Polyglutamine-expanded androgen receptor truncation fragments activate a Bax-dependent apoptotic cascade mediated by DP5/Hrk.
ABSTRACT: Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is an inherited neuromuscular disorder caused by a polyglutamine (polyQ) repeat expansion in the androgen receptor (AR). PolyQ-AR neurotoxicity may involve generation of an N-terminal truncation fragment, as such peptides occur in SBMA patients and mouse models. To elucidate the basis of SBMA, we expressed N-terminal truncated AR in motor neuron-derived cells and primary cortical neurons. Accumulation of polyQ-AR truncation fragments in the cytosol resulted in neurodegeneration and apoptotic, caspase-dependent cell death. Using primary neurons from mice transgenic or deficient for apoptosis-related genes, we determined that polyQ-AR apoptotic activation is fully dependent on Bax. Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) was required for apoptotic pathway activation through phosphorylation of c-Jun. Expression of polyQ-AR in DP5/Hrk null neurons yielded significant protection against apoptotic activation, but absence of Bim did not provide protection, apparently due to compensatory upregulation of DP5/Hrk or other BH3-only proteins. Misfolded AR protein in the cytosol thus initiates a cascade of events beginning with JNK and culminating in Bax-dependent, intrinsic pathway activation, mediated in part by DP5/Hrk. As apoptotic mediators are candidates for toxic fragment generation and other cellular processes linked to neuron dysfunction, delineation of the apoptotic activation pathway induced by polyQ-expanded AR may shed light on the pathogenic cascade in SBMA and other motor neuron diseases.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is caused by expression of a polyglutamine (polyQ)-expanded androgen receptor (AR). The inefficient nuclear proteasomal degradation of the mutant AR results in the formation of nuclear inclusions containing amino-terminal fragments of the mutant AR. PA28? (also referred to as REG?) is a nuclear 11S-proteasomal activator with limited proteasome activation capabilities compared to its cytoplasmic 11S (PA28?, PA28?) counterparts. To clarify the role of REG? in polyQ-expanded AR metabolism, we carried out genetic and biochemical studies in cell models of SBMA. Overexpression of REG? in a PC12 cell model of SBMA increased polyQ-expanded AR aggregation and contributed to polyQ-expanded AR toxicity in the presence of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). These effects of REG? were independent of its association with the proteasome and may be due, in part, to the decreased binding of polyQ-expanded AR by the E3 ubiquitin-ligase MDM2. Unlike its effects in PC12 cells, REG? overexpression rescued transgenic SBMA motor neurons from DHT-induced toxicity in a proteasome binding-dependent manner, suggesting that the degradation of a specific 11S proteasome substrate or substrates promotes motor neuron viability. One potential substrate that we found to play a role in mutant AR toxicity is the splicing factor SC35. These studies reveal that, depending on the cellular context, two biological roles for REG? impact cell viability in the face of polyQ-expanded AR; a proteasome binding-independent mechanism directly promotes mutant AR aggregation while a proteasome binding-dependent mechanism promotes cell viability. The balance between these functions likely determines REG? effects on polyQ-expanded AR-expressing cells.
Project description:Macroautophagy (hereafter autophagy) is a key pathway in neurodegeneration. Despite protective actions, autophagy may contribute to neuron demise when dysregulated. Here we consider X-linked spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), a repeat disorder caused by polyglutamine-expanded androgen receptor (polyQ-AR). We found that polyQ-AR reduced long-term protein turnover and impaired autophagic flux in motor neuron-like cells. Ultrastructural analysis of SBMA mice revealed a block in autophagy pathway progression. We examined the transcriptional regulation of autophagy and observed a functionally significant physical interaction between transcription factor EB (TFEB) and AR. Normal AR promoted, but polyQ-AR interfered with, TFEB transactivation. To evaluate physiological relevance, we reprogrammed patient fibroblasts to induced pluripotent stem cells and then to neuronal precursor cells (NPCs). We compared multiple SBMA NPC lines and documented the metabolic and autophagic flux defects that could be rescued by TFEB. Our results indicate that polyQ-AR diminishes TFEB function to impair autophagy and promote SBMA pathogenesis.
Project description:X-linked spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is characterized by adult-onset muscle weakness and lower motor neuron degeneration. SBMA is caused by CAG-polyglutamine (polyQ) repeat expansions in the androgen receptor (AR) gene. Pathological findings include motor neuron loss, with polyQ-AR accumulation in intranuclear inclusions. SBMA patients exhibit myopathic features, suggesting a role for muscle in disease pathogenesis. To determine the contribution of muscle, we developed a BAC mouse model featuring a floxed first exon to permit cell-type-specific excision of human AR121Q. BAC fxAR121 mice develop systemic and neuromuscular phenotypes, including shortened survival. After validating termination of AR121 expression and full rescue with ubiquitous Cre, we crossed BAC fxAR121 mice with Human Skeletal Actin-Cre mice. Muscle-specific excision prevented weight loss, motor phenotypes, muscle pathology, and motor neuronopathy and dramatically extended survival. Our results reveal a crucial role for muscle expression of polyQ-AR in SBMA and suggest muscle-directed therapies as effective treatments.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA, Kennedy's disease), a late-onset neuromuscular disorder, is caused by expansion of the polymorphic polyglutamine tract in the androgen receptor (AR). The AR is a ligand-activated transcription factor, but plays roles in other cellular pathways. In SBMA, selective motor neuron degeneration occurs in the brainstem and spinal cord, thus the causes of neuronal dysfunction have been studied. However, pathogenic pathways in muscles may also be involved. Cultured cells, fly and mouse models are used to study the molecular mechanisms leading to SBMA. Both the structure of the polyglutamine-expanded AR (polyQ AR) and its interactions with other proteins are altered relative to the normal AR. The ligand-dependent translocation of the polyQ AR to the nucleus appears to be critical, as are interdomain interactions. The polyQ AR, or fragments thereof, can form nuclear inclusions, but their pathogenic or protective nature is unclear. Other data suggests soluble polyQ AR oligomers can be harmful. Post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation, acetylation, and ubiquitination influence AR function and modulate the deleterious effects of the polyQ AR. Transcriptional dysregulation is highly likely to be a factor in SBMA; deregulation of non-genomic AR signaling may also be involved. Studies on polyQ AR-protein degradation suggest inhibition of the ubiquitin proteasome system and changes to autophagic pathways may be relevant. Mitochondrial function and axonal transport may also be affected by the polyQ AR. Androgens, acting through the AR, can be neurotrophic and are important in muscle development; hence both loss of normal AR functions and gain of novel harmful functions by the polyQ AR can contribute to neurodegeneration and muscular atrophy. Thus investigations into polyQ AR function have shown that multiple complex mechanisms lead to the initiation and progression of SBMA.
Project description:Polyglutamine (polyQ) expansions in the androgen receptor (AR) gene cause spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), a neuromuscular disease characterized by lower motor neuron (MN) loss and skeletal muscle atrophy, with an unknown mechanism. We generated new mouse models of SBMA for constitutive and inducible expression of mutant AR and performed biochemical, histological and functional analyses of phenotype. We show that polyQ-expanded AR causes motor dysfunction, premature death, IIb-to-IIa/IIx fiber-type change, glycolytic-to-oxidative fiber-type switching, upregulation of atrogenes and autophagy genes and mitochondrial dysfunction in skeletal muscle, together with signs of muscle denervation at late stage of disease. PolyQ expansions in the AR resulted in nuclear enrichment. Within the nucleus, mutant AR formed 2% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-resistant aggregates and inclusion bodies in myofibers, but not spinal cord and brainstem, in a process exacerbated by age and sex. Finally, we found that two-week induction of expression of polyQ-expanded AR in adult mice was sufficient to cause premature death, body weight loss and muscle atrophy, but not aggregation, metabolic alterations, motor coordination and fiber-type switch, indicating that expression of the disease protein in the adulthood is sufficient to recapitulate several, but not all SBMA manifestations in mice. These results imply that chronic expression of polyQ-expanded AR, i.e. during development and prepuberty, is key to induce the full SBMA muscle pathology observed in patients. Our data support a model whereby chronic expression of polyQ-expanded AR triggers muscle atrophy through toxic (neomorphic) gain of function mechanisms distinct from normal (hypermorphic) gain of function mechanisms.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is caused by the polyglutamine androgen receptor (polyQ-AR), a protein expressed by both lower motor neurons and skeletal muscle. Although viewed as a motor neuronopathy, data from patients and mouse models suggest that muscle contributes to disease pathogenesis. Here, we tested this hypothesis using AR113Q knockin and human bacterial artificial chromosome/clone (BAC) transgenic mice that express the full-length polyQ-AR and display androgen-dependent weakness, muscle atrophy, and early death. We developed antisense oligonucleotides that suppressed AR gene expression in the periphery but not the CNS after subcutaneous administration. Suppression of polyQ-AR in the periphery rescued deficits in muscle weight, fiber size, and grip strength, reversed changes in muscle gene expression, and extended the lifespan of mutant males. We conclude that polyQ-AR expression in the periphery is an important contributor to pathology in SBMA mice and that peripheral administration of therapeutics should be explored for SBMA patients.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), also known as Kennedy’s Disease, is a slowly progressive adult-onset neuromuscular disease which results from a polyglutamine (polyQ) encoding CAG repeat expansion within the androgen receptor gene (AR). Despite the ubiquitous expression of the androgen receptor, it is unclear why motor neurons selectively degenerate and there are no effective treatments or disease modifying therapies for this debilitating disease. In order to identify potential therapeutic targets, we set out to establish the genes and molecular pathways involved in early motor neuron dysfunction in SBMA. We therefore undertook global transcriptomic profiling of cultured primary embryonic motor neurons from the spinal cord of AR100 mice, which model SBMA.. Four biological replicate samples were used for genome wide analysis using Affymetrix 430 v2.0 mouse arrays. Data was normalised using therobust multichip average (RMA) algorithm.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a neuromuscular disease caused by a polyglutamine (polyQ) expansion in the androgen receptor (AR). Despite the fact that the monogenic cause of SBMA has been known for nearly 3 decades, there is no effective treatment for this disease, underscoring the complexity of the pathogenic mechanisms that lead to a loss of motor neurons and muscle in SBMA patients. In the current review, we provide an overview of the system-wide clinical features of SBMA, summarize the structure and function of the AR, discuss both gain-of-function and loss-of-function mechanisms of toxicity caused by polyQ-expanded AR, and describe the cell and animal models utilized in the study of SBMA. Additionally, we summarize previously conducted clinical trials which, despite being based on positive results from preclinical studies, proved to be largely ineffective in the treatment of SBMA; nonetheless, these studies provide important insights as researchers develop the next generation of therapies.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a polyglutamine repeat (polyQ) expansion within the human androgen receptor (AR). Unlike other neurodegenerative diseases caused by abnormal polyQ expansion, the onset of SBMA depends on androgen binding to mutant human polyQ-AR proteins. This is also observed in Drosophila eyes ectopically expressing the polyQ-AR mutants. We have genetically screened mediators of androgen-induced neurodegeneration caused by polyQ-AR mutants in Drosophila eyes. We identified Rbf (Retinoblastoma-family protein), the Drosophila homologue of human Rb (Retinoblastoma protein), as a neuroprotective factor. Androgen-dependent association of Rbf or Rb with AR was remarkably potentiated by aberrant polyQ expansion. Such potentiated Rb association appeared to attenuate recruitment of histone deacetyltransferase 1 (HDAC1), a corepressor of E2F function. Either overexpression of Rbf or E2F deficiency in fly eyes reduced the neurotoxicity of the polyQ-AR mutants. Induction of E2F function by polyQ-AR-bound androgen was suppressed by Rb in human neuroblastoma cells. We conclude that abnormal expansion of polyQ may potentiate innate androgen-dependent association of AR with Rb. This appears to lead to androgen-dependent onset of SBMA through aberrant E2F transactivation caused by suppressed histone deacetylation.
Project description:Expansion of the polyglutamine (polyQ) tract within the androgen receptor (AR) causes neuromuscular degeneration in individuals with spinobulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA). PolyQ AR has diminished transcriptional function and exhibits ligand-dependent proteotoxicity, features that have both been implicated in SBMA; however, the extent to which altered AR transcriptional function contributes to pathogenesis remains controversial. Here, we sought to dissociate effects of diminished AR function from polyQ-mediated proteotoxicity by enhancing the transcriptional activity of polyQ AR. To accomplish this, we bypassed the inhibitory effect of AR SUMOylation (where SUMO indicates small ubiquitin-like modifier) by mutating conserved lysines in the polyQ AR that are sites of SUMOylation. We determined that replacement of these residues by arginine enhances polyQ AR activity as a hormone-dependent transcriptional regulator. In a murine model, disruption of polyQ AR SUMOylation rescued exercise endurance and type I muscle fiber atrophy; it also prolonged survival. These changes occurred without overt alterations in polyQ AR expression or aggregation, revealing the favorable trophic support exerted by the ligand-activated receptor. Our findings demonstrate beneficial effects of enhancing the transcriptional function of the ligand-activated polyQ AR and indicate that the SUMOylation pathway may be a potential target for therapeutic intervention in SBMA.