Polyglutamine induced misfolding of huntingtin exon1 is modulated by the flanking sequences.
ABSTRACT: Polyglutamine (polyQ) expansion in exon1 (XN1) of the huntingtin protein is linked to Huntington's disease. When the number of glutamines exceeds a threshold of approximately 36-40 repeats, XN1 can readily form amyloid aggregates similar to those associated with disease. Many experiments suggest that misfolding of monomeric XN1 plays an important role in the length-dependent aggregation. Elucidating the misfolding of a XN1 monomer can help determine the molecular mechanism of XN1 aggregation and potentially help develop strategies to inhibit XN1 aggregation. The flanking sequences surrounding the polyQ region can play a critical role in determining the structural rearrangement and aggregation mechanism of XN1. Few experiments have studied XN1 in its entirety, with all flanking regions. To obtain structural insights into the misfolding of XN1 toward amyloid aggregation, we perform molecular dynamics simulations on monomeric XN1 with full flanking regions, a variant missing the polyproline regions, which are hypothesized to prevent aggregation, and an isolated polyQ peptide (Q(n)). For each of these three constructs, we study glutamine repeat lengths of 23, 36, 40 and 47. We find that polyQ peptides have a positive correlation between their probability to form a beta-rich misfolded state and their expansion length. We also find that the flanking regions of XN1 affect its probability to form a beta-rich state compared to the isolated polyQ. Particularly, the polyproline regions form polyproline type II helices and decrease the probability of the polyQ region to form a beta-rich state. Additionally, by lengthening polyQ, the first N-terminal 17 residues are more likely to adopt a beta-sheet conformation rather than an alpha-helix conformation. Therefore, our molecular dynamics study provides a structural insight of XN1 misfolding and elucidates the possible role of the flanking sequences in XN1 aggregation.
Project description:In Huntington's disease, expansion of a polyglutamine (polyQ) domain in the huntingtin (htt) protein leads to misfolding and aggregation. There is much interest in the molecular features that distinguish monomeric, oligomeric, and fibrillar species that populate the aggregation pathway and likely differ in cytotoxicity. The mechanism and rate of aggregation are greatly affected by the domains flanking the polyQ segment within exon 1 of htt. A "protective" C-terminal proline-rich flanking domain inhibits aggregation by inducing polyproline II structure (PPII) within an extended portion of polyQ. The N-terminal flanking segment (htt(NT)) adopts an ?-helical structure as it drives aggregation, helps stabilize oligomers and fibrils, and is seemingly integral to their supramolecular assembly. Via solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (ssNMR), we probe how, in the mature fibrils, the htt flanking domains impact the polyQ domain and in particular the localization of the ?-structured amyloid core. Using residue-specific and uniformly labeled samples, we find that the amyloid core occupies most of the polyQ domain but ends just prior to the prolines. We probe the structural and dynamical features of the remarkably abrupt ?-sheet to PPII transition and discuss the potential connections to certain htt-binding proteins. We also examine the htt(NT) ?-helix outside the polyQ amyloid core. Despite its presumed structural and demonstrated stabilizing roles in the fibrils, quantitative ssNMR measurements of residue-specific dynamics show that it undergoes distinct solvent-coupled motion. This dynamical feature seems reminiscent of molten-globule-like ?-helix-rich features attributed to the nonfibrillar oligomeric species of various amyloidogenic proteins.
Project description:Amyloid-like fibrils formed by huntingtin exon-1 (htt_ex1) are a hallmark of Huntington's disease (HD). The structure of these fibrils is unknown, and determining their structure is an important step toward understanding the misfolding processes that cause HD. In HD, a polyglutamine (polyQ) domain in htt_ex1 is expanded to a degree that it gains the ability to form aggregates comprising the core of the resulting fibrils. Despite the simplicity of this polyQ sequence, the structure of htt_ex1 fibrils has been difficult to determine. This study provides a detailed structural investigation of fibrils formed by htt_ex1 using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. We show that the polyQ domain of htt_ex1 forms the static amyloid core similar to polyQ model peptides. The Gln residues of this domain exist in two distinct conformations that are found in separate domains or monomers but are relatively close in space. The rest of htt_ex1 is relatively dynamic on an NMR time scale, especially the proline-rich C-terminus, which we found to be in a polyproline II helical and random coil conformation. We observed a similar dynamic C-terminus in a soluble form of htt_ex1, indicating that the conformation of this part of htt_ex1 is not changed upon its aggregation into an amyloid fibril. From these data, we propose a bottlebrush model for the fibrils formed by htt_ex1. In this model, the polyQ domains form the center and the proline-rich domains the bristles of the bottlebrush.
Project description:Expansions of polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts in nine different proteins cause a family of neurodegenerative disorders called polyQ diseases. Because polyQ tracts are potential therapeutic targets for these pathologies there is great interest in characterizing the conformations that they adopt and in understanding how their aggregation behavior is influenced by the sequences flanking them. We used solution NMR to study at single-residue resolution a 156-residue proteolytic fragment of the androgen receptor that contains a polyQ tract associated with the disease spinobulbar muscular atrophy, also known as Kennedy disease. Our findings indicate that a Leu-rich region preceding the polyQ tract causes it to become ?-helical and appears to protect the protein against aggregation, which represents a new, to our knowledge, mechanism by which sequence context can minimize the deleterious properties of these repetitive regions. Our results have implications for drug discovery for polyQ diseases because they suggest that the residues flanking these repetitive sequences may represent viable therapeutic targets.
Project description:PolyQ peptides teeter between polyproline II (PPII) and beta-sheet conformations. In tandem polyQ-polyP peptides, the polyP segment tips the balance toward PPII, increasing the threshold number of Gln residues needed for fibrillation. To investigate the mechanism of cis-inhibition by flanking polyP segments on polyQ fibrillation, we examined short polyQ, polyP, and tandem polyQ-polyP peptides. These polyQ peptides have only three glutamines and cannot form beta-sheet fibrils. We demonstrate that polyQ-polyP peptides form small, soluble oligomers at high concentrations (as shown by size exclusion chromatography and diffusion coefficient measurements) with PPII structure (as shown by circular dichroism spectroscopy and (3)J(HN-C alpha) constants of Gln residues from constant time correlation spectroscopy NMR). Nuclear Overhauser effect spectroscopy and molecular modeling suggest that self-association of these peptides occurs as a result of both hydrophobic and steric effects. Pro side chains present three methylenes to solvent, favoring self-association of polyP through the hydrophobic effect. Gln side chains, with two methylene groups, can adopt a conformation similar to that of Pro side chains, also permitting self-association through the hydrophobic effect. Furthermore, steric clashes between Gln and Pro side chains to the C-terminal side of the polyQ segment favor adoption of the PPII-like structure in the polyQ segment. The conformational adaptability of the polyQ segment permits the cis-inhibitory effect of polyP segments on fibrillation by the polyQ segments in proteins such as huntingtin.
Project description:Protein misfolding and aggregation in the brain have been recognized to be crucial in the pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and the polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases, which are collectively called the "protein misfolding diseases". In the polyQ diseases, an abnormally expanded polyQ stretch in the responsible proteins causes the proteins to misfold and aggregate, eventually resulting in neurodegeneration. Hypothesizing that polyQ protein misfolding and aggregation could be inhibited by molecules specifically binding to the expanded polyQ stretch, we identified polyQ binding peptide 1 (QBP1). We show that QBP1 does, indeed, inhibit misfolding and aggregation of the expanded polyQ protein in vitro. Furthermore overexpression of QBP1 by the crossing of transgenic animals inhibits neurodegeneration in Drosophila models of the polyQ diseases. We also introduce our attempts to deliver QBP1 into the brain by administration using viral vectors and protein transduction domains. Interestingly, recent data suggest that QBP1 can also inhibit the misfolding/aggregation of proteins responsible for other protein misfolding diseases, highlighting the potential of QBP1 as a general therapeutic molecule for a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases. We hope that in the near future, aggregation inhibitor-based drugs will be developed and bring relief to patients suffering from these currently intractable protein misfolding diseases.
Project description:Huntington's disease is a genetic neurodegenerative disorder resulting from polyglutamine (polyQ) expansion (>36Q) within the first exon of Huntingtin (Htt) protein. We applied X-ray crystallography to determine the secondary structure of the first exon (EX1) of Htt17Q. The structure of Htt17Q-EX1 consists of an amino-terminal alpha helix, poly17Q region, and polyproline helix formed by the proline-rich region. The poly17Q region adopts multiple conformations in the structure, including alpha helix, random coil, and extended loop. The conformation of the poly17Q region is influenced by the conformation of neighboring protein regions, demonstrating the importance of the native protein context. We propose that the conformational flexibility of the polyQ region observed in our structure is a common characteristic of many amyloidogenic proteins. We further propose that the pathogenic polyQ expansion in the Htt protein increases the length of the random coil, which promotes aggregation and facilitates abnormal interactions with other proteins in cells.
Project description:Expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) stretches in at least nine unrelated proteins lead to inherited neuronal dysfunction and degeneration. The expansion size in all diseases correlates with age at onset (AO) of disease and with polyQ protein aggregation, indicating that the expanded polyQ stretch is the main driving force for the disease onset. Interestingly, there is marked interpatient variability in expansion thresholds for a given disease. Between different polyQ diseases the repeat length vs. AO also indicates the existence of modulatory effects on aggregation of the upstream and downstream amino acid sequences flanking the Q expansion. This can be either due to intrinsic modulation of aggregation by the flanking regions, or due to differential interaction with other proteins, such as the components of the cellular protein quality control network. Indeed, several lines of evidence suggest that molecular chaperones have impact on the handling of different polyQ proteins. Here, we review factors differentially influencing polyQ aggregation: the Q-stretch itself, modulatory flanking sequences, interaction partners, cleavage of polyQ-containing proteins, and post-translational modifications, with a special focus on the role of molecular chaperones. By discussing typical examples of how these factors influence aggregation, we provide more insight on the variability of AO between different diseases as well as within the same polyQ disorder, on the molecular level.
Project description:Expansion of polyglutamine (polyQ) tract may cause protein misfolding and aggregation that lead to cytotoxicity and neurodegeneration, but the underlying mechanism remains to be elucidated. We applied ataxin-3 (Atx3), a polyQ tract-containing protein, as a model to study sequestration of normal cellular proteins. We found that the aggregates formed by polyQ-expanded Atx3 sequester its interacting partners, such as P97/VCP and ubiquitin conjugates, into the protein inclusions through specific interactions both in vitro and in cells. Moreover, this specific sequestration impairs the normal cellular function of P97 in down-regulating neddylation. However, expansion of polyQ tract in Atx3 does not alter the conformation of its surrounding regions and the interaction affinities with the interacting partners, although it indeed facilitates misfolding and aggregation of the Atx3 protein. Thus, we propose a loss-of-function pathology for polyQ diseases that sequestration of the cellular essential proteins via specific interactions into inclusions by the polyQ aggregates causes dysfunction of the corresponding proteins, and consequently leads to neurodegeneration.
Project description:Small heat-shock proteins (sHsps) are molecular chaperones that play an important protective role against cellular protein misfolding by interacting with partially unfolded proteins on their off-folding pathway, preventing their aggregation. Polyglutamine (polyQ) repeat expansion leads to the formation of fibrillar protein aggregates and neuronal cell death in nine diseases, including Huntington disease and the spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs). There is evidence that sHsps have a role in suppression of polyQ-induced neurodegeneration; for example, the sHsp alphaB-crystallin (alphaB-c) has been identified as a suppressor of SCA3 toxicity in a Drosophila model. However, the molecular mechanism for this suppression is unknown. In this study we tested the ability of alphaB-c to suppress the aggregation of a polyQ protein. We found that alphaB-c does not inhibit the formation of SDS-insoluble polyQ fibrils. We further tested the effect of alphaB-c on the aggregation of ataxin-3, a polyQ protein that aggregates via a two-stage aggregation mechanism. The first stage involves association of the N-terminal Josephin domain followed by polyQ-mediated interactions and the formation of SDS-resistant mature fibrils. Our data show that alphaB-c potently inhibits the first stage of ataxin-3 aggregation; however, the second polyQ-dependent stage can still proceed. By using NMR spectroscopy, we have determined that alphaB-c interacts with an extensive region on the surface of the Josephin domain. These data provide an example of a domain/region flanking an amyloidogenic sequence that has a critical role in modulating aggregation of a polypeptide and plays a role in the interaction with molecular chaperones to prevent this aggregation.
Project description:The glutamine/asparagine (Q/N)-rich yeast prion protein Sup35 has a low intrinsic propensity to spontaneously self-assemble into ordered, beta-sheet-rich amyloid fibrils. In yeast cells, de novo formation of Sup35 aggregates is greatly facilitated by high protein concentrations and the presence of preformed Q/N-rich protein aggregates that template Sup35 polymerization. Here, we have investigated whether aggregation-promoting polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts can stimulate the de novo formation of ordered Sup35 protein aggregates in the absence of Q/N-rich yeast prions. Fusion proteins with polyQ tracts of different lengths were produced and their ability to spontaneously self-assemble into amlyloid structures was analyzed using in vitro and in vivo model systems. We found that Sup35 fusions with pathogenic (>or=54 glutamines), as opposed to non-pathogenic (19 glutamines) polyQ tracts efficiently form seeding-competent protein aggregates. Strikingly, polyQ-mediated de novo assembly of Sup35 protein aggregates in yeast cells was independent of pre-existing Q/N-rich protein aggregates. This indicates that increasing the content of aggregation-promoting sequences enhances the tendency of Sup35 to spontaneously self-assemble into insoluble protein aggregates. A similar result was obtained when pathogenic polyQ tracts were linked to the yeast prion protein Rnq1, demonstrating that polyQ sequences are generic inducers of amyloidogenesis. In conclusion, long polyQ sequences are powerful molecular tools that allow the efficient production of seeding-competent amyloid structures.