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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44785. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044785. Epub 2012 Sep 6.

Aggregation of polyQ proteins is increased upon yeast aging and affected by Sir2 and Hsf1: novel quantitative biochemical and microscopic assays.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, George S Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Aging-related neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's diseases, are characterized by accumulation of protein aggregates in distinct neuronal cells that eventually die. In Huntington's disease, the protein huntingtin forms aggregates, and the age of disease onset is inversely correlated to the length of the protein's poly-glutamine tract. Using quantitative assays to estimate microscopically and capture biochemically protein aggregates, here we study in Saccharomyces cerevisiae aging-related aggregation of GFP-tagged, huntingtin-derived proteins with different polyQ lengths. We find that the short 25Q protein never aggregates whereas the long 103Q version always aggregates. However, the mid-size 47Q protein is soluble in young logarithmically growing yeast but aggregates as the yeast cells enter the stationary phase and age, allowing us to plot an "aggregation timeline". This aging-dependent aggregation was associated with increased cytotoxicity. We also show that two aging-related genes, SIR2 and HSF1, affect aggregation of the polyQ proteins. In Δsir2 strain the aging-dependent aggregation of the 47Q protein is aggravated, while overexpression of the transcription factor Hsf1 attenuates aggregation. Thus, the mid-size 47Q protein and our quantitative aggregation assays provide valuable tools to unravel the roles of genes and environmental conditions that affect aging-related aggregation.

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