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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27746. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027746. Epub 2011 Nov 28.

SAHA decreases HDAC 2 and 4 levels in vivo and improves molecular phenotypes in the R6/2 mouse model of Huntington's disease.

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Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.


Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive neurological disorder for which there are no disease-modifying treatments. Transcriptional dysregulation is a major molecular feature of HD, which significantly contributes to disease progression. Therefore, the development of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as therapeutics for HD has been energetically pursued. Suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) - a class I HDAC as well an HDAC6 inhibitor, improved motor impairment in the R6/2 mouse model of HD. Recently it has been found that SAHA can also promote the degradation of HDAC4 and possibly other class IIa HDACs at the protein level in various cancer cell lines. To elucidate whether SAHA is a potent modifier of HDAC protein levels in vivo, we performed two independent mouse trials. Both WT and R6/2 mice were chronically treated with SAHA and vehicle. We found that prolonged SAHA treatment causes the degradation of HDAC4 in cortex and brain stem, but not hippocampus, without affecting its transcript levels in vivo. Similarly, SAHA also decreased HDAC2 levels without modifying the expression of its mRNA. Consistent with our previous data, SAHA treatment diminishes Hdac7 transcript levels in both wild type and R6/2 brains and unexpectedly was found to decrease Hdac11 in R6/2 but not wild type. We investigated the effects of SAHA administration on well-characterised molecular readouts of disease progression. We found that SAHA reduces SDS-insoluble aggregate load in the cortex and brain stem but not in the hippocampus of the R6/2 brains, and that this was accompanied by restoration of Bdnf cortical transcript levels.

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