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J Neurosci Res. 2010 Jan;88(1):179-90. doi: 10.1002/jnr.22184.

Mutant huntingtin and glycogen synthase kinase 3-beta accumulate in neuronal lipid rafts of a presymptomatic knock-in mouse model of Huntington's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, Massachusetts, USA.


Patients with Huntington's disease have an expanded polyglutamine tract in huntingtin and suffer severe brain atrophy and neurodegeneration. Because membrane dysfunction can occur in Huntington's disease, we addressed whether mutant huntingtin in brain and primary neurons is present in lipid rafts, which are cholesterol-enriched membrane domains that mediate growth and survival signals. Biochemical analysis of detergent-resistant membranes from brains and primary neurons of wild-type and presymptomatic Huntington's disease knock-in mice showed that wild-type and mutant huntingtin were recovered in lipid raft-enriched detergent-resistant membranes. The association with lipid rafts was stronger for mutant huntingtin than wild-type huntingtin. Lipid rafts extracted from Huntington's disease mice had normal levels of lipid raft markers (G(alphaq), Ras, and flotillin) but significantly more glycogen synthase kinase 3-beta. Increases in glycogen synthase kinase 3-beta have been associated with apoptotic cell death. Treating Huntington's disease primary neurons with inhibitors of glycogen synthase kinase 3-beta reduced neuronal death. We speculate that accumulation of mutant huntingtin and glycogen synthase kinase 3-beta in lipid rafts of presymptomatic Huntington's disease mouse neurons contributes to neurodegeneration in Huntington's disease.

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