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J Biol Chem. 2006 May 5;281(18):12580-6. Epub 2005 Dec 28.

Sodium butyrate ameliorates histone hypoacetylation and neurodegenerative phenotypes in a mouse model for DRPLA.

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Institute of Developmental Biology and Molecular Medicine, Morgan-Tan International Center for Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China.


Dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by polyglutamine expansion within the Atrophin-1 protein. To study the mechanism of this disease and to test potential therapeutic methods, we established Atro-118Q transgenic mice, which express in neurons a mutant human Atrophin-1 protein that contains an expanded stretch of 118 glutamines. Consistent with the results from previous studies on transgenic mice that expressed mutant Atrophin-1 with 65 glutamines, Atro-118Q mice exhibited several neurodegenerative phenotypes that are commonly seen in DRPLA patients, including ataxia, tremors, and other motor defects. Overexpression of wild-type human Atrophin-1 could not rescue the motor and survival defects in Atro-118Q mice, indicating that the mutant protein with polyglutamine expansion does not simply function in a dominant negative manner. Biochemical analysis of Atro-118Q mice revealed hypoacetylation of histone H3 in brain tissues and thus suggested that global gene repression is an underlying mechanism for neurodegeneration in this mouse model. We further show that intraperitoneal administration of sodium butyrate, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, ameliorated the histone acetylation defects, significantly improved motor performance, and extended the average life span of Atro-118Q mice. These results support the hypothesis that transcription deregulation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of polyglutamine expansion diseases and suggest that reversion of transcription repression with small molecules such as sodium butyrate is a feasible approach to treating DRPLA symptoms.

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