Huntington's Disease (HD) is caused by expansion of a CAG repeat within a putative open reading frame of a recently identified gene, IT15. We have examined the expression of the gene's protein product using antibodies developed against the N-terminus and an internal epitope. Both antisera recognize a 350 kDa protein, the predicted size, indicating that the CAG repeat is translated into polyglutamine. The HD protein product is widely expressed, most highly in neurons in the brain. There is no enrichment in the striatum, the site of greatest pathology in HD. Within neurons, the protein is diminished in nuclei and mitochondria and is present in the soluble cytoplasmic compartment, as well as loosely associated with membranes or cytoskeleton, in cell bodies, dendrites, and axons. It is concentrated in nerve terminals, including terminals within the caudate and putamen. Thus, the normal HD gene product maybe involved in common intracellular functions, and possibly in regulation of nerve terminal function. The product of the expanded allele is expressed, consistent with a gain of function mechanism for HD at the protein level.
ASJC Scopus subject areas