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FASEB J. 2008 Apr;22(4):1083-93. Epub 2007 Nov 20.

Mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinase-1 deficiency is involved in expanded-huntingtin-induced transcriptional dysregulation and striatal death.

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  • 1Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, CNRS, UMR 7102, 9 quai St. Bernard, 75005, Paris, France.


Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder due to an abnormal polyglutamine expansion in the N-terminal region of huntingtin protein (Exp-Htt). This expansion causes protein aggregation and neuronal dysfunction and death. Transcriptional dysregulation due to Exp-Htt participates in neuronal death in HD. Here, using the R6/2 transgenic mouse model of HD, we identified a new molecular alteration that could account for gene dysregulation in these mice. Despite a nuclear activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) along with Elk-1 and cAMP responsive element binding, two transcription factors involved in c-Fos transcription, we failed to detect any histone H3 phosphorylation, which is expected after nuclear ERK activation. Accordingly, we found in the striatum of these mice a deficiency of mitogen- and stress-activated kinase-1 (MSK-1), a kinase downstream ERK, critically involved in H3 phosphorylation and c-Fos induction. We extended this observation to Exp-Htt-expressing striatal neurons and postmortem brains of HD patients. In vitro, knocking out MSK-1 expression potentiated Exp-Htt-induced striatal death. Its overexpression induced H3 phosphorylation and c-Fos expression and totally protected against striatal neurodegeneration induced by Exp-Htt. We propose that MSK-1 deficiency is involved in transcriptional dysregulation and striatal degeneration. Restoration of its expression and activity may be a new therapeutic target in HD.

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