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Mol Cell. 1998 Mar;1(4):595-601.

Transglutaminase action imitates Huntington's disease: selective polymerization of Huntingtin containing expanded polyglutamine.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Centre de Recherche sur l'Endocrinologie Moléculaire et le Développement, Meudon-Bellevue, France.


Different proteins bearing polyglutamine of excessive length are lethal to neurons and cause human disease of the central nervous system. In parts of the brain affected by Huntington's disease, the amount of the huntingtin with expanded polyglutamine is reduced and there appear huntingtin-containing polymers of larger molecular weight. We show here that huntingtin is a substrate of transglutaminase in vitro and that the rate constant of the reaction increases with length of the polyglutamine over a range of an order of magnitude. As a result, huntingtin with expanded polyglutamine is preferentially incorporated into polymers. Both disappearance of the huntingtin with expanded polyglutamine and its replacement by polymeric forms are prevented by inhibitors of transglutaminase. The effect of transglutaminase therefore duplicates the changes in the affected parts of the brain.

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