Ph.D. Univ. of Massachusetts
Background: Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by CAG-repeat expansions (>36) in exon 1 of HTT, which dysregulates multiple cellular machineries. Translin-associated protein X (TRAX) is a scaffold protein with diverse functions, including suppressing the microRNA (miRNA)-mediated silencing by degrading pre-miRNA. To date, the role of TRAX in neurodegenerative diseases remains unknown.
Objectives: We delineated the role of TRAX upregulation during HD progression.
Methods: Expression of TRAX in the brains of humans and three mouse models with HD were analyzed by immunohistochemistry staining, western blot, and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Adeno-associated viruses harboring TRAX short hairpin RNA were intrastriatally injected into HD mice to downregulate TRAX. HD-like symptoms were analyzed by behavioral and biochemical assessments. The miRNA-sequencing and RNA-sequencing analyses were used to identify the TRAX- regulated miRNA-messenger RNA (mRNA) axis during HD progression. The identified gene targets were validated biochemically in mouse and human striatal cells.
Results: We discovered that TRAX was upregulated in the brains of HD patients and three HD mouse models. Downregulation of TRAX enhanced 83 miRNAs (including miR-330-3p, miR-496a-3p) and subsequently changed the corresponding mRNA networks critical for HD pathogenesis (eg, DARPP-32 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor). Disruption of the TRAX-mediated miRNA-mRNA axis accelerated the progression of HD-like symptoms, including the degeneration of motor function, accumulation of mHTT aggregates, and shortened neurite outgrowth.
Conclusions: We demonstrated that TRAX upregulation is authentic and protective in HD. Our study provides a novel layer of regulation for HD pathogenesis and may lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies for HD. © 2022 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.