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Neuron. 1998 Sep;21(3):633-42.

Polyglutamine-expanded human huntingtin transgenes induce degeneration of Drosophila photoreceptor neurons.

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Department of Neurology, University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, 90095, USA.


Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder. Disease alleles contain a trinucleotide repeat expansion of variable length, which encodes polyglutamine tracts near the amino terminus of the HD protein, huntingtin. Polyglutamine-expanded huntingtin, but not normal huntingtin, forms nuclear inclusions. We describe a Drosophila model for HD. Amino-terminal fragments of human huntingtin containing tracts of 2, 75, and 120 glutamine residues were expressed in photoreceptor neurons in the compound eye. As in human neurons, polyglutamine-expanded huntingtin induced neuronal degeneration. The age of onset and severity of neuronal degeneration correlated with repeat length, and nuclear localization of huntingtin presaged neuronal degeneration. In contrast to other cell death paradigms in Drosophila, coexpression of the viral antiapoptotic protein, P35, did not rescue the cell death phenotype induced by polyglutamine-expanded huntingtin.

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