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J Clin Invest. 2011 Nov;121(11):4372-82. doi: 10.1172/JCI57552. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

Ciliogenesis is regulated by a huntingtin-HAP1-PCM1 pathway and is altered in Huntington disease.

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  • 1Institut Curie, Orsay, France.


Huntington disease (HD) is a devastating autosomal-dominant neurodegenerative disorder. It is caused by expansion of a CAG repeat in the first exon of the huntingtin (HTT) gene that encodes a mutant HTT protein with a polyglutamine (polyQ) expansion at the amino terminus. Here, we demonstrate that WT HTT regulates ciliogenesis by interacting through huntingtin-associated protein 1 (HAP1) with pericentriolar material 1 protein (PCM1). Loss of Htt in mouse cells impaired the retrograde trafficking of PCM1 and thereby reduced primary cilia formation. In mice, deletion of Htt in ependymal cells led to PCM1 mislocalization, alteration of the cilia layer, and hydrocephalus. Pathogenic polyQ expansion led to centrosomal accumulation of PCM1 and abnormally long primary cilia in mouse striatal cells. PCM1 accumulation in ependymal cells was associated with longer cilia and disorganized cilia layers in a mouse model of HD and in HD patients. Longer cilia resulted in alteration of the cerebrospinal fluid flow. Thus, our data indicate that WT HTT is essential for protein trafficking to the centrosome and normal ciliogenesis. In HD, hypermorphic ciliogenesis may affect signaling and neuroblast migration so as to dysregulate brain homeostasis and exacerbate disease progression.

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