Spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2) is a neurodegenerative disorder, which is caused by an unstable CAG-repeat expansion in the SCA2 gene, that encodes a polyglutamine tract (polyQ-tract) expansion in ataxin-2 protein (ATXN2). The RNA-binding protein ATXN2 interacts with the poly(A)-binding protein PABPC1, localizing to ribosomes at the rough endoplasmic reticulum or to polysomes. Under cell stress ATXN2 and PABPC1 show redistribution to stress granules where mRNAs are kept away from translation and from degradation. It is unknown whether ATXN2 associates preferentially with specific mRNAs or how it modulates their processing. Here, we investigated Atxn2 knock-out (Atxn2-/-) mouse liver, cerebellum and midbrain regarding their RNA profile, employing oligonucleotide microarrays for screening and RNA deep sequencing for validation. Modest ~1.4-fold upregulations were observed for the level of many mRNAs encoding ribosomal proteins and other translation pathway factors. Quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR and immunoblots in liver tissue confirmed these effects and demonstrated an inverse correlation also with PABPC1 mRNA and protein. ATXN2 deficiency also enhanced phosphorylation of the ribosomal protein S6, while impairing the global protein synthesis rate, suggesting a block between the enhanced translation drive and the impaired execution. Furthermore, ATXN2 overexpression and deficiency retarded cell cycle progression. ATXN2 mRNA levels showed a delayed phasic twofold increase under amino acid and serum starvation, similar to ATXN3, but different from motor neuron disease genes MAPT and SQSTM1. ATXN2 mRNA levels depended particularly on mTOR signalling. Altogether the data implicate ATXN2 in the adaptation of mRNA translation and cell growth to nutrient availability and stress.
Factorial design comparing ataxin-2 knock-out mice with wild type littermates in three different tissues (midbrain, cerebellum, liver) and 3 different ages.