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J Hum Genet. 2019 Oct;64(10):995-1004. doi: 10.1038/s10038-019-0639-8. Epub 2019 Jul 11.

Full sequence of mutant huntingtin 3'-untranslated region and modulation of its gene regulatory activity by endogenous microRNA.

Author information

1
Molecular Neurogenetics Unit, Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, 02114, USA.
2
Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.
3
CHDI Foundation, Princeton, NJ, 08540, USA.
4
Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.
5
Medical and Population Genetics Program, The Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, 02142, USA.
6
Molecular Neurogenetics Unit, Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, 02114, USA. jlee51@mgh.harvard.edu.
7
Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02115, USA. jlee51@mgh.harvard.edu.
8
Medical and Population Genetics Program, The Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, 02142, USA. jlee51@mgh.harvard.edu.

Abstract

Huntington's disease (HD) is caused by an expanded CAG trinucleotide repeat in the first exon of the huntingtin gene (HTT). Since the entire course of the disease starts from this dominant gain-of-function mutation, lowering total or mutant huntingtin mRNA/protein has emerged as an appealing therapeutic strategy. We reasoned that endogenous mechanisms underlying HTT gene regulation may inform strategies to target the source of the disease. As part of our investigation to understand how the expression of HTT is controlled, we performed (1) complete sequencing analysis for mutant HTT 3'-UTR and (2) unbiased screening assays to identify naturally-occurring miRNAs that could lower the HTT mRNA levels. By sequencing HD families inheriting the major European mutant haplotype, we determined the full sequence of HTT 3'-UTRs of the most frequent mutant (i.e., hap.01) and normal (i.e., hap.08) haplotypes, revealing 5 sites with alternative alleles. In subsequent miRNA activity assays using the full-length hap.01 and hap.08 3'-UTR reporter vectors and follow-up validation experiments, hsa-miR-4324 and hsa-miR-4756-5p significantly reduced HTT 3'-UTR reporter activity and endogenous HTT protein levels. However, those miRNAs did not show strong haplotype-specific effects. Nevertheless, our data highlighting full sequences of HTT 3'-UTR haplotypes, effects of miRNAs on HTT levels, and potential interaction sites provide rationale and promising targets for total and mutant-specific HTT lowering intervention strategies using endogenous and artificial miRNAs, respectively.

PMID:
31296921
DOI:
10.1038/s10038-019-0639-8

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