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Prog Neurobiol. 2007 Nov;83(4):228-48. Epub 2007 Apr 1.

Transcriptional signatures in Huntington's disease.

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  • MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, 114 16th Street/B114-2000, Charlestown, MA 02129-4404, USA. cha@helix.mgh.harvard.edu


While selective neuronal death has been an influential theme in Huntington's disease (HD), there is now a preponderance of evidence that significant neuronal dysfunction precedes frank neuronal death. The best evidence for neuronal dysfunction is the observation that gene expression is altered in HD brain, suggesting that transcriptional dysregulation is a central mechanism. Studies of altered gene expression began with careful observations of postmortem human HD brain and subsequently were accelerated by the development of transgenic mouse models. The application of DNA microarray technology has spurred tremendous progress with respect to the altered transcriptional processes that occur in HD, through gene expression studies of both transgenic mouse models as well as cellular models of HD. Gene expression profiles are remarkably comparable across these models, bolstering the idea that transcriptional signatures reflect an essential feature of disease pathogenesis. Finally, gene expression studies have been applied to human HD, thus not only validating the approach of using model systems, but also solidifying the idea that altered transcription is a key mechanism in HD pathogenesis. In the future, gene expression profiling will be used as a readout in clinical trials aimed at correcting transcriptional dysregulation in Huntington's disease.

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