Sequencing analysis of the spinal bulbar muscular atrophy CAG expansion reveals absence of repeat interruptions.
ABSTRACT: Trinucleotide repeat disorders are a heterogeneous group of diseases caused by the expansion, beyond a pathogenic threshold, of unstable DNA tracts in different genes. Sequence interruptions in the repeats have been described in the majority of these disorders and may influence disease phenotype and heritability. Spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a motor neuron disease caused by a CAG trinucleotide expansion in the androgen receptor (AR) gene. Diagnostic testing and previous research have relied on fragment analysis polymerase chain reaction to determine the AR CAG repeat size, and have therefore not been able to assess the presence of interruptions. We here report a sequencing study of the AR CAG repeat in a cohort of SBMA patients and control subjects in the United Kingdom. We found no repeat interruptions to be present, and we describe differences between sequencing and traditional sizing methods.
Project description:With this paper, we deliberately challenge the prevailing neurocentric theory of the etiology of spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA). We offer data supporting an alternative view that androgen receptor (AR) acts in skeletal muscles to cause the symptoms of SBMA. While SBMA has been linked to a CAG repeat expansion in the AR gene and mutant AR is presumed to act in motoneurons to cause SBMA, we find that over-expression of wild type AR solely in skeletal muscle fibers results in the same androgen-dependent disease phenotype as when mutant AR is broadly expressed. Like other recent SBMA mouse models, transgenic (tg) females in our model exhibit a motor phenotype only when exposed to androgens, and this motor dysfunction is independent of motoneuronal or muscle fiber cell death. Muscles from symptomatic females also show denervation-like changes in gene expression comparable to a knock-in model of SBMA. Furthermore, once androgen treatment ends, tg females rapidly recover motor function and muscle gene expression, demonstrating the strict androgen-dependence of the disease phenotype in our model. Our results argue that SBMA may be caused by AR acting in muscle.
Project description:Spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is caused by a CAG repeat expansion mutation in the androgen receptor (AR) gene, and mutant AR is presumed to act in motoneurons to cause SBMA. However, we found that mice overexpressing wild-type (wt) AR solely in skeletal muscle fibers display the same androgen-dependent disease phenotype as when mutant AR is broadly expressed, challenging the assumptions that only an expanded AR can induce disease and that SBMA is strictly neurogenic. We have previously reported that AR toxicity was ligand dependent in our model, and that very few transgenic (tg) males survived beyond birth.We tested whether the AR antagonist flutamide could block perinatal toxicity. tg males were treated prenatally with flutamide and assessed for survival and motor behavior in adulthood.Prenatal treatment with flutamide rescued tg male pups from perinatal death, and, as adults, such perinatally rescued tg males showed an SBMA phenotype that was comparable to that of previously described untreated tg males. Moreover, tg males carrying a mutant endogenous allele for AR--the testicular feminization mutation (tfm)--and thus having functional AR only in muscle fibers nevertheless displayed the same androgen-dependent disease phenotype as adults.These mice represent an excellent model to study the myogenic contribution to SBMA as they display many of the core features of disease as other mouse models. These data demonstrate that AR acting exclusively in muscle fibers is sufficient to induce SBMA symptoms and that flutamide is protective perinatally.
Project description:The CAG repeat expansions that occur in translated regions of specific genes can cause human genetic disorders known as polyglutamine (poly-Q)-triggered diseases. Huntington's disease and spinobulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) are examples of these diseases in which underlying mutations are localized near other trinucleotide repeats in the huntingtin (HTT) and androgen receptor (AR) genes, respectively. Mutant proteins that contain expanded polyglutamine tracts are well-known triggers of pathogenesis in poly-Q diseases, but a toxic role for mutant transcripts has also been proposed. To gain insight into the structural features of complex triplet repeats of HTT and AR transcripts, we determined their structures in vitro and showed the contribution of neighboring repeats to CAG repeat hairpin formation. We also demonstrated that the expanded transcript is retained in the nucleus of human HD fibroblasts and is colocalized with the MBNL1 protein. This suggests that the CAG repeats in the HTT mRNA adopt ds-like RNA conformations in vivo. The intracellular structure of the CAG repeat region of mutant HTT transcripts was not sufficiently stable to be protected from cleavage by an siRNA targeting the repeats and the silencing efficiency was higher for the mutant transcript than for its normal counterpart.
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), also known as Kennedy's disease, is a rare, X-linked, late onset neuromuscular disorder. The disease is caused by a CAG trinucleotide repeat expansion in the first exon of the androgen receptor gene. It is characterized by slowly progressive lower motor neurons degeneration, primary myopathy and widespread multisystem involvement. Respiratory involvement is rare, and the condition is associated with a normal life expectancy. Despite a plethora of therapeutic studies in mouse models, no effective disease-modifying therapy has been licensed for clinical use to date. The development of sensitive monitoring markers for the particularly slowly progressing pathology of SBMA is urgently required to aid future clinical trials. A small number of outcome measures have been proposed recently, including promising biochemical markers, which show correlation with clinical disability and disease-stage and progression. Nevertheless, a paucity of SBMA-specific biomarker studies persists, delaying the development of monitoring markers for pharmaceutical trials. Collaborative efforts through international consortia and multicenter registries are likely to contribute to the characterization of the natural history of the condition, the establishment of disease-specific biomarker panels and ultimately contribute to the development of disease-modifying drugs.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is an adult-onset motor neuron disease caused by the expansion of a trinucleotide CAG repeat encoding the polyglutamine tract in the first exon of the androgen receptor gene (AR). The pathogenic, polyglutamine-expanded AR protein accumulates in the cell nucleus in a ligand-dependent manner and inhibits transcription by interfering with transcriptional factors and coactivators. Heat-shock proteins (HSPs) are stress-induced chaperones that facilitate the refolding and, thus, the degradation of abnormal proteins. Geranylgeranylacetone (GGA), a nontoxic antiulcer drug, has been shown to potently induce HSP expression in various tissues, including the central nervous system. In a cell model of SBMA, GGA increased the levels of Hsp70, Hsp90, and Hsp105 and inhibited cell death and the accumulation of pathogenic AR. Oral administration of GGA also up-regulated the expression of HSPs in the central nervous system of SBMA-transgenic mice and suppressed nuclear accumulation of the pathogenic AR protein, resulting in amelioration of polyglutamine-dependent neuromuscular phenotypes. These observations suggest that, although a high dose appears to be needed for clinical effects, oral GGA administration is a safe and promising therapeutic candidate for polyglutamine-mediated neurodegenerative diseases, including SBMA.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a neuromuscular disease caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the androgen receptor (AR) gene. Here, we perform a comprehensive analysis of signaling pathways in a mouse model of SBMA (AR-97Q mice) utilizing a phosphoprotein assay. We measure the levels of 17 phosphorylated proteins in spinal cord and skeletal muscle of AR-97Q mice at three stages. The level of phosphorylated Src (p-Src) is markedly increased in the spinal cords and skeletal muscles of AR-97Q mice prior to the onset. Intraperitoneal administration of a Src kinase inhibitor improves the behavioral and histopathological phenotypes of the transgenic mice. We identify p130Cas as an effector molecule of Src and show that the phosphorylated p130Cas is elevated in murine and cellular models of SBMA. These results suggest that Src kinase inhibition is a potential therapy for SBMA.
Project description:DNA trinucleotide repeats (TRs) can exhibit dynamic expansions by integer numbers of trinucleotides that lead to neurodegenerative disorders. Strand slipped hairpins during DNA replication, repair and/or recombination may contribute to TR expansion. Here, we combine single-molecule FRET experiments and molecular dynamics studies to elucidate slipping dynamics and conformations of (CAG)n TR hairpins. We directly resolve slipping by predominantly two CAG units. The slipping kinetics depends on the even/odd repeat parity. The populated states suggest greater stability for 5'-AGCA-3' tetraloops, compared with alternative 5'-CAG-3' triloops. To accommodate the tetraloop, even(odd)-numbered repeats have an even(odd) number of hanging bases in the hairpin stem. In particular, a paired-end tetraloop (no hanging TR) is stable in (CAG)n = even, but such situation cannot occur in (CAG)n = odd, where the hairpin is "frustrated'' and slips back and forth between states with one TR hanging at the 5' or 3' end. Trinucleotide interrupts in the repeating CAG pattern associated with altered disease phenotypes select for specific conformers with favorable loop sequences. Molecular dynamics provide atomic-level insight into the loop configurations. Reducing strand slipping in TR hairpins by sequence interruptions at the loop suggests disease-associated variations impact expansion mechanisms at the level of slipped hairpins.
Project description:To characterize the clinical and genetic features of spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), a rare neurodegenerative disorder caused by the expansion of a CAG repeat in the first exon of the androgen receptor gene, in the United Kingdom.We created a national register for SBMA in the United Kingdom and recruited 61 patients between 2005 and 2013. In our cross-sectional study, we assessed, by direct questioning, impairment of activities of daily living (ADL) milestones, functional rating, and subjective disease impact, and performed correlations with both CAG repeat size and degree of somatic mosaicism. Ten patients were deceased, 46 patients participated in the study, and 5 declined.Subjects had an average age at onset of 43.4 years, and weakness onset most frequently occurred in the lower limbs (87%). Impaired mobility was the most frequently reported problem by patients, followed by bulbar dysfunction. Age distribution of the impairment of ADL milestones showed remarkable overlap with a Japanese study. We have identified a significant correlation between the number of CAG repeats and both age at onset and ADL milestones. Somatic mosaicism also showed a correlation with CAG expansion size and age at onset.Clinical features in SBMA show a substantial overlap when comparing populations with different genetic backgrounds. This finding has major implications, because multicenter trials will be necessary to obtain sufficient power in future clinical trials. Clinical-genetic correlations are strong in SBMA and should inform any clinical research strategy in this condition.
Project description:The factors influencing the tissue-specific pattern of somatic mosaicism in CAG-repeat diseases have not yet been fully resolved. We performed a detailed analysis of the degree of somatic mosaicism in various tissues from 20 patients with spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), including 4 who were deceased. The most outstanding feature was the prominent somatic mosaicism observed in the cardiac and skeletal muscles, composed predominantly of postmitotic cells, and in the skin, prostate, and testis. The CNS tissues, liver, and spleen showed the least mosaicism. The tissue distribution of somatic mosaicism in patients with SBMA was markedly different from that in patients with Huntington disease (HD) and from that in patients with dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA). The degree of somatic mosaicism correlated with the CAG-repeat number but not with age at examination. Furthermore, tissues with a higher mosaicism level corresponded well to those with a higher expression level of androgen receptor protein. The tissue-specific pattern of somatic mosaicism related not only to cell composition with different cell turnover rates but to repeat size and gene expression levels, and postnatal cell division is unlikely to be a major cause of somatic mosaicism probably because of the relative stability of CAG repeat in SBMA.