Heat shock promotes inclusion body formation of mutant huntingtin (mHtt) and alleviates mHtt-induced transcription factor dysfunction

Justin Y. Chen, Miloni Parekh, Hadear Seliman, Dariya Bakshinskaya, Wei Dai, Kelvin Kwan, Kuang Yu Chen, Alice Liu

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PolyQ-expanded huntingtin (mHtt) variants form aggregates, termed inclusion bodies (IBs), in individuals with and models of Huntington's disease (HD). The role of IB versus diffusible mHtt in neurotoxicity remains unclear. Using a ponasterone (PA)- inducible cell model of HD, here we evaluated the effects of heat shock on the appearance and functional outcome of Htt103QExon1-EGFP expression. Quantitative image analysis indicated that 80-90% of this mHtt protein initially appears as "diffuse" signals in the cytosol, with IBs forming at high mHtt expression. A 2-h heat shock during the PA induction reduced the diffuse signal, but greatly increased mHtt IB formation in both cytosol and nucleus. Dose- And time-dependent mHtt expression suggested that nucleated polymerization drives IB formation. RNA-mediated knockdown of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) and heat shock cognate 70 protein (HSC70) provided evidence for their involvement in promoting diffuse mHtt to form IBs. Reporter gene assays assessing the impacts of diffuse versus IB mHtt showed concordance of diffuse mHtt expression with the repression of heat shock factor 1, cAMP-responsive element-binding protein (CREB), and NF-κB activity. CREB repression was reversed by heat shock coinciding with mHtt IB formation. In an embryonic striatal neuron-derivedHDmodel, the chemical chaperone sorbitol similarly promoted the structuring of diffuse mHtt into IBs and supported cell survival under stress. Our results provide evidence that mHtt IB formation is a chaperone-supported cellular coping mechanism that depletes diffusible mHtt conformers, alleviates transcription factor dysfunction, and promotes neuron survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15581-15593
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number40
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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