Beta-agonist stimulation ameliorates the phenotype of spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy mice and patient-derived myotubes.
ABSTRACT: Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a neuromuscular disease characterized by the loss of lower motor neurons. SBMA is caused by expansions of a polyglutamine tract in the gene coding for androgen receptor (AR). Expression of polyglutamine-expanded AR causes damage to motor neurons and skeletal muscle cells. Here we investigated the effect of ?-agonist stimulation in SBMA myotube cells derived from mice and patients, and in knock-in mice. We show that treatment of myotubes expressing polyglutamine-expanded AR with the ?-agonist clenbuterol increases their size. Clenbuterol activated the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway and decreased the accumulation of polyglutamine-expanded AR. Treatment of SBMA knock-in mice with clenbuterol, which was started at disease onset, ameliorated motor function and extended survival. Clenbuterol improved muscle pathology, attenuated the glycolytic-to-oxidative metabolic alterations occurring in SBMA muscles and induced hypertrophy of both glycolytic and oxidative fibers. These results indicate that ?-agonist stimulation is a novel therapeutic strategy for SBMA.
Project description:The nucleus is the primary site of protein aggregation in many polyglutamine diseases, suggesting a central role in pathogenesis. In SBMA, the nucleus is further implicated by the critical role for disease of androgens, which promote the nuclear translocation of the mutant androgen receptor (AR). To clarify the importance of the nucleus in SBMA, we genetically manipulated the nuclear localization signal of the polyglutamine-expanded AR. Transgenic mice expressing this mutant AR displayed inefficient nuclear translocation and substantially improved motor function compared with SBMA mice. While we found that nuclear localization of polyglutamine-expanded AR is required for SBMA, we also discovered, using cell models of SBMA, that it is insufficient for both aggregation and toxicity and requires androgens for these disease features. Through our studies of cultured motor neurons, we further found that the autophagic pathway was able to degrade cytoplasmically retained expanded AR and represents an endogenous neuroprotective mechanism. Moreover, pharmacologic induction of autophagy rescued motor neurons from the toxic effects of even nuclear-residing mutant AR, suggesting a therapeutic role for autophagy in this nucleus-centric disease. Thus, our studies firmly establish that polyglutamine-expanded AR must reside within nuclei in the presence of its ligand to cause SBMA. They also highlight a mechanistic basis for the requirement for nuclear localization in SBMA neurotoxicity, namely the lack of mutant AR removal by the autophagic protein degradation pathway.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a neuromuscular disorder caused by polyglutamine expansion in the androgen receptor (AR) and characterized by the loss of lower motor neurons. Here we investigated pathological processes occurring in muscle biopsy specimens derived from SBMA patients and, as controls, age-matched healthy subjects and patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and neurogenic atrophy. We detected atrophic fibers in the muscle of SBMA, ALS and neurogenic atrophy patients. In addition, SBMA muscle was characterized by the presence of a large number of hypertrophic fibers, with oxidative fibers having a larger size compared with glycolytic fibers. Polyglutamine-expanded AR expression was decreased in whole muscle, yet enriched in the nucleus, and localized to mitochondria. Ultrastructural analysis revealed myofibrillar disorganization and streaming in zones lacking mitochondria and degenerating mitochondria. Using molecular (mtDNA copy number), biochemical (citrate synthase and respiratory chain enzymes) and morphological (dark blue area in nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide-stained muscle cross-sections) analyses, we found a depletion of the mitochondria associated with enhanced mitophagy. Mass spectrometry analysis revealed an increase of phosphatidylethanolamines and phosphatidylserines in mitochondria isolated from SBMA muscles, as well as a 50% depletion of cardiolipin associated with decreased expression of the cardiolipin synthase gene. These observations suggest a causative link between nuclear polyglutamine-expanded AR accumulation, depletion of mitochondrial mass, increased mitophagy and altered mitochondrial membrane composition in SBMA muscle patients. Given the central role of mitochondria in cell bioenergetics, therapeutic approaches toward improving the mitochondrial network are worth considering to support SBMA patients.
Project description:Expanded polyglutamine tracts cause neurodegeneration through a toxic gain-of-function mechanism. Generation of inclusions is a common feature of polyglutamine diseases and other protein misfolding disorders. Inclusion formation is likely to be a defensive response of the cell to the presence of unfolded protein. Recently, the compound B2 has been shown to increase inclusion formation and decrease toxicity of polyglutamine-expanded huntingtin in cultured cells. We explored the effect of B2 on spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA). SBMA is caused by expansion of polyglutamine in the androgen receptor (AR) and is characterized by the loss of motor neurons in the brainstem and spinal cord. We found that B2 increases the deposition of mutant AR into nuclear inclusions, without altering the ligand-induced aggregation, expression, or subcellular distribution of the mutant protein. The effect of B2 on inclusions was associated with a decrease in AR transactivation function. We show that B2 reduces mutant AR toxicity in cell and fly models of SBMA, further supporting the idea that accumulation of polyglutamine-expanded protein into inclusions is protective. Our findings suggest B2 as a novel approach to therapy for SBMA.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a progressive neuromuscular disease caused by polyglutamine expansion in the androgen receptor (AR) protein. Despite extensive research, the exact pathogenic mechanisms underlying SBMA remain elusive. In this study, we present evidence that Nemo-like kinase (NLK) promotes disease pathogenesis across multiple SBMA model systems. Most remarkably, loss of one copy of Nlk rescues SBMA phenotypes in mice, including extending lifespan. We also investigated the molecular mechanisms by which NLK exerts its effects in SBMA. Specifically, we have found that NLK can phosphorylate the mutant polyglutamine-expanded AR, enhance its aggregation, and promote AR-dependent gene transcription by regulating AR-cofactor interactions. Furthermore, NLK modulates the toxicity of a mutant AR fragment via a mechanism that is independent of AR-mediated gene transcription. Our findings uncover a crucial role for NLK in controlling SBMA toxicity and reveal a novel avenue for therapy development in SBMA.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a motor neuron disease caused by polyglutamine expansion mutation in the androgen receptor (AR). We investigated whether the mutant protein alters mitochondrial function. We found that constitutive and doxycycline-induced expression of the mutant AR in MN-1 and PC12 cells, respectively, are associated with depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane. This was mitigated by cyclosporine A, which inhibits opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. We also found that the expression of the mutant protein in the presence of ligand results in an elevated level of reactive oxygen species, which is blocked by the treatment with the antioxidants co-enzyme Q10 and idebenone. The mutant protein in MN-1 cells also resulted in increased Bax, caspase 9 and caspase 3. We assessed the effects of mutant AR on the transcription of mitochondrial proteins and found altered expression of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 and the mitochondrial specific antioxidant superoxide dismutase-2 in affected tissues of SBMA knock-in mice. In addition, we found that the AR associates with mitochondria in cultured cells. This study thus provides evidence for mitochondrial dysfunction in SBMA cell and animal models, either through indirect effects on the transcription of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes or through direct effects of the mutant protein on mitochondria or both. These findings indicate possible benefit from mitochondrial therapy for SBMA.
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 expansion in androgen receptor (AR) is responsible for spinobulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) that leads to selective loss of lower motor neurons. Using SBMA as a model, we explored the relationship between protein structure/function and neurodegeneration in polyglutamine diseases. We show here that protein arginine methyltransferase 6 (PRMT6) is a specific co-activator of normal and mutant AR and that the interaction of PRMT6 with AR is significantly enhanced in the AR mutant. AR and PRMT6 interaction occurs through the PRMT6 steroid receptor interaction motif, LXXLL, and the AR activating function 2 surface. AR transactivation requires PRMT6 catalytic activity and involves methylation of arginine residues at Akt consensus site motifs, which is mutually exclusive with serine phosphorylation by Akt. The enhanced interaction of PRMT6 and mutant AR leads to neurodegeneration in cell and fly models of SBMA. These findings demonstrate a direct role of arginine methylation in polyglutamine disease pathogenesis.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a neuromuscular disease caused by polyglutamine (polyQ) expansion in the androgen receptor (AR). Prior studies have highlighted the importance of AR nuclear localization in SBMA pathogenesis; therefore, in this study, we sought to determine the role of AR nuclear export in the pathological manifestations of SBMA. We demonstrate here that the nuclear export of polyQ-expanded AR is impaired, even prior to the formation of intranuclear inclusions of aggregated AR. Additionally, we find that promoting AR export with an exogenous nuclear export signal substantially reduces its aggregation and blocks hormone-induced toxicity. Moreover, we show that these protective effects are conferred by destabilization of the mutant protein due to an increase in proteasomal degradation of the cytoplasmic AR. Despite a growing body of evidence that global disruption of nucleo/cytoplasmic transport occurs in ALS and HD, our data suggest that no such global disruption occurs in models of SBMA; rather, AR-specific mechanisms, including reduced phosphorylation at Serine 650, are likely responsible for the impaired nuclear export of polyQ-expanded AR.
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:<h4>Objective</h4>The aim of this study was to explore the pathomechanism underlying the reduction of serum creatinine (Cr) concentrations in spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA).<h4>Methods</h4>We evaluated blood chemistries, motor function, and muscle mass measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in male subjects with SBMA (n = 65), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; n = 27), and healthy controls (n = 25). We also examined the intramuscular concentrations of creatine, a precursor of Cr, as well as the protein and mRNA expression levels of the creatine transporter (SLC6A8) in autopsy specimens derived from subjects who had SBMA and ALS and disease controls. Furthermore, we measured the mRNA expression levels of SLC6A8 in cultured muscle cells (C2C12) transfected with the polyglutamine-expanded androgen receptor (AR-97Q).<h4>Results</h4>Serum Cr concentrations were significantly lower in subjects with SBMA than in those with ALS (P < 0.001), despite similar muscle mass values. Intramuscular creatine concentrations were also lower in with the autopsied specimen of SBMA subjects than in those with ALS subjects (P = 0.018). Moreover, the protein and mRNA expression levels of muscle SLC6A8 were suppressed in subjects with SBMA. The mRNA levels of SLC6A8 were also suppressed in C2C12 cells bearing AR-97Q.<h4>Interpretation</h4>These results suggest that low serum Cr concentration in subjects with SBMA is caused by impaired muscle uptake of creatine in addition to being caused by neurogenic atrophy. Given that creatine serves as an energy source in skeletal muscle, increasing muscle creatine uptake is a possible therapeutic approach for treating SBMA.