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J Biol Chem. 2009 Jan 16;284(3):1917-29. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M806256200. Epub 2008 Nov 5.

Misfolding of proteins with a polyglutamine expansion is facilitated by proteasomal chaperones.

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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Rd., Cambridge CB2 0QH, United Kingdom.


Deposition of misfolded proteins with a polyglutamine expansion is a hallmark of Huntington disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Impairment of the proteolytic function of the proteasome has been reported to be both a cause and a consequence of polyglutamine accumulation. Here we found that the proteasomal chaperones that unfold proteins to be degraded by the proteasome but also have non-proteolytic functions co-localized with huntingtin inclusions both in primary neurons and in Huntington disease patients and formed a complex independently of the proteolytic particle. Overexpression of Rpt4 or Rpt6 facilitated aggregation of mutant huntingtin and ataxin-3 without affecting proteasomal degradation. Conversely, reducing Rpt6 or Rpt4 levels decreased the number of inclusions in primary neurons, indicating that endogenous Rpt4 and Rpt6 facilitate inclusion formation. In vitro reconstitution experiments revealed that purified 19S particles promote mutant huntingtin aggregation. When fused to the ornithine decarboxylase destabilizing sequence, proteins with expanded polyglutamine were efficiently degraded and did not aggregate. We propose that aggregation of proteins with expanded polyglutamine is not a consequence of a proteolytic failure of the 20S proteasome. Rather, aggregation is elicited by chaperone subunits of the 19S particle independently of proteolysis.

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