Rinsho Shinkeigaku (Clinical Neurology)

Special article by the winner of Japanese Society of Neurology

Molecular mechanism for spinocerebellar ataxias

Osamu Onodera, M.D., Ph.D.

Department of Molecular Neuroscience, Resource Branch for Brain Disease Research, Brain Research Institute, Niigata University

Recent advance of molecular biology reveals that quality control of intracellular environment takes an important role for maintaining the neuronal function. One is a quality control of protein and another is a quality control of nucleotide. Polyglutamine disease is a disease which caused by a failure of quality control of protein. Expanded polyglutamine repeats result in neurodegenerative disorders, but their cytotoxic structures remain to be elucidated. We have applied fluorescence resonance energy transfer analysis to clarify the cytotoxicity of soluble polyglutamine oligomers. By using this method we revealed that polyglutamine monomers assemble into oligomer in a parallel β-sheet or a head-to-tail cylindrical β-sheet manner. We distinguished oligomers from monomers and inclusion bodies in a single living cell. Survival assay of neuronally differentiated cells revealed that cells with soluble oligomers died faster than those with inclusion bodies or monomers. These results indicate that a formation of oligomers is an essential mechanism underlying neurodegeneration in polyglutamine-mediated disorders. About the quality control of nucleotide in neuron, DNA single-strand breaks were continually produced by endogenous reactive oxygen species or exogenous genotoxic agents. These damaged ends posses damaged 3'-ends including 3'-phosphate, 3'-phosphoglycolate, or 3'-α, β-unsaturated aldehyde ends, and should be restored to 3'-hydroxyl ends for subsequent repair processes. We have demonstrated by in vitro assay that aprataxin, the causative gene product for early-onset ataxia with ocular motor apraxia and hypoalbuminemia/ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 1 (EAOH/AOA1), specifically removes 3'-phosphoglycolate and 3'-phosphate ends at DNA 3'-ends, but not 3'-α, β-unsaturated aldehyde ends. The findings indicate that aprataxin removes blocking molecules from 3'-ends, and that the accumulation of unrepaired DNA single-strand breaks with damaged 3'-ends underlies the pathogenesis of EAOH/AOA1. The findings will provide new insight into the mechanism underlying degeneration and DNA repair in neurons. Taken together, these results indicate that the quality control of protein and nucleotide is crucial to understand the neurodegenerative disorder.
Full Text of this Article in Japanese PDF (692K)

(CLINICA NEUROL, 49: 1|8, 2009)
key words: polyglutamine disease, aprataxin, oligomer, DNA break, quality control system

(Received: 3-Oct-08)