Deterioration of muscle force and contractile characteristics are early pathological events in spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy mice.
ABSTRACT: Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), also known as Kennedy's Disease, is a late-onset X-linked progressive neuromuscular disease, which predominantly affects males. The pathological hallmarks of the disease are selective loss of spinal and bulbar motor neurons, accompanied by weakness, atrophy and fasciculations of bulbar and limb muscles. SBMA is caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the gene that encodes the androgen receptor (AR) protein. Disease manifestation is androgen dependent and results principally from a toxic gain of AR function. There are currently no effective treatments for this debilitating disease. It is important to understand the course of the disease in order to target therapeutics to key pathological stages. This is especially relevant in disorders such as SBMA, for which disease can be identified before symptom onset, through family history and genetic testing. To fully characterise the role of muscle in SBMA, we undertook a longitudinal physiological and histological characterisation of disease progression in the AR100 mouse model of SBMA. Our results show that the disease first manifests in skeletal muscle, before any motor neuron degeneration, which only occurs in late-stage disease. These findings reveal that alterations in muscle function, including reduced muscle force and changes in contractile characteristics, are early pathological events in SBMA mice and suggest that muscle-targeted therapeutics may be effective in SBMA.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, or Kennedy's disease, is an X-linked motor neuron disease caused by polyglutamine repeat expansion in the androgen receptor. The disease is characterised by weakness, atrophy and fasciculations in the limb and bulbar muscles. Affected males may have signs of androgen insensitivity, such as gynaecomastia and reduced fertility. Neurophysiological studies are typically consistent with diffuse denervation atrophy, and serum creatine kinase is usually elevated 2-5 times above normal. Progression of the disease is slow, and the focus of spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) management is to prevent complications.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA, also known as Kennedy's disease) is one of nine neurodegenerative disorders that are caused by expansion of polyglutamine-encoding CAG repeats. Intracellular accumulation of abnormal proteins in these diseases, a pathological hallmark, is associated with defects in protein homeostasis. Enhancement of the cellular proteostasis capacity with small molecules has therefore emerged as a promising approach to treatment. Here, we characterize a novel curcumin analog, ASC-JM17, as an activator of central pathways controlling protein folding, degradation and oxidative stress resistance. ASC-JM17 acts on Nrf1, Nrf2 and Hsf1 to increase the expression of proteasome subunits, antioxidant enzymes and molecular chaperones. We show that ASC-JM17 ameliorates toxicity of the mutant androgen receptor (AR) responsible for SBMA in cell, fly and mouse models. Knockdown of the Drosophila Nrf1 and Nrf2 ortholog cap 'n' collar isoform-C, but not Hsf1, blocks the protective effect of ASC-JM17 on mutant AR-induced eye degeneration in flies. Our observations indicate that activation of the Nrf1/Nrf2 pathway is a viable option for pharmacological intervention in SBMA and potentially other polyglutamine diseases.
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: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:Kennedy's disease, or spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), is an X-linked neuromuscular condition clinically characterised by weakness, atrophy and fasciculations of the limb and bulbar muscles, as a result of lower motor neuron degeneration. The disease is caused by an abnormally expanded triplet repeat expansions in the ubiquitously expressed androgen receptor gene, through mechanisms which are not entirely elucidated. Over the years studies from both humans and animal models have highlighted the involvement of cell populations other than motor neurons in SBMA, widening the disease phenotype. The most compelling aspect of these findings is their potential for therapeutic impact: muscle, for example, which is primarily affected in the disease, has been recently shown to represent a valid alternative target for therapy to motor neurons. In this review, we discuss the emerging study of the extra-motor neuron involvement in SBMA, which, besides increasingly pointing towards a multidisciplinary approach for affected patients, deepens our understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms and holds potential for providing new therapeutic targets for this disease.
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 and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA, Kennedy's disease) is a motor neuron disease caused by polyglutamine repeat expansion in the androgen receptor. Although degeneration occurs in the spinal cord and muscle, the exact mechanism is not clear. Induced pluripotent stem cells from spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy patients provide a useful model for understanding the disease mechanism and designing effective therapy. Stem cells were generated from six patients and compared to control lines from three healthy individuals. Motor neurons from four patients were differentiated from stem cells and characterized to understand disease-relevant phenotypes. Stem cells created from patient fibroblasts express less androgen receptor than control cells, but show androgen-dependent stabilization and nuclear translocation. The expanded repeat in several stem cell clones was unstable, with either expansion or contraction. Patient stem cell clones produced a similar number of motor neurons compared to controls, with or without androgen treatment. The stem cell-derived motor neurons had immunoreactivity for HB9, Isl1, ChAT, and SMI-32, and those with the largest repeat expansions were found to have increased acetylated ?-tubulin and reduced HDAC6. Reduced HDAC6 was also found in motor neuron cultures from two other patients with shorter repeats. Evaluation of stably transfected mouse cells and SBMA spinal cord showed similar changes in acetylated ?-tubulin and HDAC6. Perinuclear lysosomal enrichment, an HDAC6 dependent process, was disrupted in motor neurons from two patients with the longest repeats. SBMA stem cells present new insights into the disease, and the observations of reduced androgen receptor levels, repeat instability, and reduced HDAC6 provide avenues for further investigation of the disease mechanism and development of effective therapy.
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:Expansion of a polyglutamine tract in the androgen receptor (AR) causes spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA). We previously showed that Akt-mediated phosphorylation of AR reduces ligand binding and attenuates the mutant AR toxicity. Here, we show that in culture insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) reduces AR aggregation and increases AR clearance via the ubiquitin-proteasome system through phosphorylation of AR by Akt. In vivo, SBMA transgenic mice overexpressing a muscle-specific isoform of IGF-1 selectively in skeletal muscle show evidence of increased Akt activation and AR phosphorylation and decreased AR aggregation. Augmentation of IGF-1/Akt signaling rescues behavioral and histopathological abnormalities, extends the life span, and reduces both muscle and spinal cord pathology of SBMA mice. This study establishes IGF-1/Akt-mediated inactivation of mutant AR as a strategy to counteract disease in vivo and demonstrates that skeletal muscle is a viable target tissue for therapeutic intervention in SBMA.
Project description:Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a neuromuscular disease caused by the expansion of a polyglutamine tract in the androgen receptor (AR). The mechanism by which expansion of polyglutamine in AR causes muscle atrophy is unknown. Here, we investigated pathological pathways underlying muscle atrophy in SBMA knock-in mice and patients. We show that glycolytic muscles were more severely affected than oxidative muscles in SBMA knock-in mice. Muscle atrophy was associated with early-onset, progressive glycolytic-to-oxidative fiber-type switch. Whole genome microarray and untargeted lipidomic analyses revealed enhanced lipid metabolism and impaired glycolysis selectively in muscle. These metabolic changes occurred before denervation and were associated with a concurrent enhancement of mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling, which induced peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ? coactivator 1 alpha (PGC1?) expression. At later stages of disease, we detected mitochondrial membrane depolarization, enhanced transcription factor EB (TFEB) expression and autophagy, and mTOR-induced protein synthesis. Several of these abnormalities were detected in the muscle of SBMA patients. Feeding knock-in mice a high-fat diet (HFD) restored mTOR activation, decreased the expression of PGC1?, TFEB, and genes involved in oxidative metabolism, reduced mitochondrial abnormalities, ameliorated muscle pathology, and extended survival. These findings show early-onset and intrinsic metabolic alterations in SBMA muscle and link lipid/glucose metabolism to pathogenesis. Moreover, our results highlight an HFD regime as a promising approach to support SBMA patients.