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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1999 May 21;69(1):10-20.

Localization of rabbit huntingtin using a new panel of monoclonal antibodies.

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MRIC Biochemistry Group, NE Wales Institute, Plas Coch, Wrexham, LL11 2AW, UK.


Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by the expansion of a CAG repeat which is expressed as a polyglutamine tract near the N-terminus of the gene product, huntingtin. N-terminal huntingtin fragments form intranuclear aggregates in HD patients and these may be involved in the pathogenesis. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against three different regions of huntingtin (amino acids 997-1276, 1844-2131 and 2703-2911) have been produced and two of the epitopes have been identified using phage displayed peptide libraries. All mAbs reacted with 350 kDa huntingtin on Western blots and one mAb from each region was selected for further study by strong immunoreactivity with neurons in different regions of rabbit brain and by ability to immunoprecipitate native huntingtin. Subcellular fractionation and sucrose density centrifugation of rabbit brain extract showed that most of the huntingtin exists as a high molecular weight complex in the cytoplasm. Two outstanding problems have been addressed; the location of huntingtin in tissues outside the central nervous system and whether huntingtin is present in the nucleus of normal cells. We conclude that huntingtin is present at low levels in most non-neuronal cells though we have identified an interstitial cell type in skin with very high immunoreactivity. Using both immunolocalization and nuclear purification methods, we were unable to exclude the possibility that a small proportion of full-length huntingtin is present in the nucleus.

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