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Huntington’s disease (HD) results from expansions of polyglutamine stretches (polyQ) in the huntingtin protein (Htt) that promote protein aggregation, neurodegeneration, and death. Since the diversity and sizes of the soluble Htt-polyQ aggregates that have been linked to cytotoxicity are unknown, we investigated soluble Htt-polyQ aggregates using analytical ultracentrifugation. Soon after induction in a yeast HD model system, non-toxic Htt-25Q and cytotoxic Htt-103Q both formed soluble aggregates 29S to 200S in size. Because current models indicate that Htt-25Q does not form soluble aggregates, reevaluation of previous studies may be necessary. Only Htt-103Q aggregation behavior changed, however, with time. At 6 hr mid-sized aggregates (33S to 84S) and large aggregates (greater than 100S) became present while at 24 hr primarily only mid-sized aggregates (20S to 80S) existed. Multiple factors that decreased cytotoxicity of Htt-103Q (changing the length of or sequences adjacent to the polyQ, altering ploidy or chaperone dosage, or deleting anti-aging factors) altered the Htt-103Q aggregation pattern in which the suite of mid-sized aggregates at 6 hr were most correlative with cytotoxicity. Hence, the amelioration of HD and other neurodegenerative diseases may require increased attention to and discrimination of the dynamic alterations in soluble aggregation processes.
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Wen Xi, Xin Wang, Thomas M. Laue & Clyde L. Denis. Multiple discrete soluble aggregates influence polyglutamine toxicity in a Huntington's disease model system. Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 10; 6:34916. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep34916