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Brain. 2012 Aug;135(Pt 8):2428-39. doi: 10.1093/brain/aws177.

Calpastatin-mediated inhibition of calpains in the mouse brain prevents mutant ataxin 3 proteolysis, nuclear localization and aggregation, relieving Machado-Joseph disease.

Author information

1
Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, 3004-517 Coimbra, Portugal; Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Coimbra, 3000-548 Coimbra, Portugal.

Abstract

Machado-Joseph disease is the most frequently found dominantly-inherited cerebellar ataxia. Over-repetition of a CAG trinucleotide in the MJD1 gene translates into a polyglutamine tract within the ataxin 3 protein, which upon proteolysis may trigger Machado-Joseph disease. We investigated the role of calpains in the generation of toxic ataxin 3 fragments and pathogenesis of Machado-Joseph disease. For this purpose, we inhibited calpain activity in mouse models of Machado-Joseph disease by overexpressing the endogenous calpain-inhibitor calpastatin. Calpain blockage reduced the size and number of mutant ataxin 3 inclusions, neuronal dysfunction and neurodegeneration. By reducing fragmentation of ataxin 3, calpastatin overexpression modified the subcellular localization of mutant ataxin 3 restraining the protein in the cytoplasm, reducing aggregation and nuclear toxicity and overcoming calpastatin depletion observed upon mutant ataxin 3 expression. Our findings are the first in vivo proof that mutant ataxin 3 proteolysis by calpains mediates its translocation to the nucleus, aggregation and toxicity and that inhibition of calpains may provide an effective therapy for Machado-Joseph disease.

PMID:
22843411
DOI:
10.1093/brain/aws177
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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