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Hum Mol Genet. 2018 Jul 15;27(14):2546-2562. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddy160.

Glial expression of disease-associated poly-glutamine proteins impairs the blood-brain barrier in Drosophila.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Bioscience Technology, Chung Yuan Christian University, Chung Li, Taiwan.
Department of Life Sciences, College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.
Laboratory for Morphogenetic Signaling, RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR), Chuou-ku, Kobe, Japan.
Graduate Institute of Clinical Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan.


Expansion of poly-glutamine (polyQ) stretches in several proteins has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases. The effects of polyQ-expanded proteins on neurons have been extensively studied, but their effects on glia remain unclear. We found that expression of distinct polyQ proteins exclusively in all glia or specifically in the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and blood-retina barrier (BRB) glia caused cell-autonomous impairment of BBB/BRB integrity, suggesting that BBB/BRB glia are most vulnerable to polyQ-expanded proteins. Furthermore, we also found that BBB/BRB leakage in Drosophila is reflected in reversed waveform polarity on the basis of electroretinography (ERG), making ERG a sensitive method to detect BBB/BRB leakage. The polyQ-expanded protein Atxn3-84Q forms aggregates, induces BBB/BRB leakage, restricts Drosophila lifespan and reduces the level of Repo (a pan-glial transcriptional factor required for glial differentiation). Expression of Repo in BBB/BRB glia can rescue BBB/BRB leakage, suggesting that the reduced expression of Repo is important for the effect of polyQ on BBB/BRB impairment. Coexpression of the chaperon HSP40 and HSP70 effectively rescues the effects of Atxn3-84Q, indicating that polyQ protein aggregation in glia is deleterious. Intriguingly, coexpression of wild-type Atxn3-27Q can also rescue BBB/BRB impairment, suggesting that normal polyQ protein may have a protective function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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