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Overexpression of Q-rich prion-like proteins suppresses polyQ cytotoxicity and alters the polyQ interactome

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Dec 8. pii: 201421313. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Ripaud L, Chumakova V, Antonin M, Hastie AR, Pinkert S, Körner R, Ruff KM, Pappu RV, Hornburg D, Mann M, Hartl FU, Hipp MS.
Publication Date: 2014



Expansion of a poly-glutamine (polyQ) repeat in a group of functionally unrelated proteins is the cause of several inherited neurodegenerative disorders, including Huntington's disease. The polyQ length-dependent aggregation and toxicity of these disease proteins can be reproduced in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This system allowed us to screen for genes that when overexpressed reduce the toxic effects of an N-terminal fragment of mutant huntingtin with 103 Q. Surprisingly, among the identified suppressors were three proteins with Q-rich, prion-like domains (PrDs): glycine threonine serine repeat protein (Gts1p), nuclear polyadenylated RNA-binding protein 3, and minichromosome maintenance protein 1. Overexpression of the PrD of Gts1p, containing an imperfect 28 residue glutamine-alanine repeat, was sufficient for suppression of toxicity. Association with this discontinuous polyQ domain did not prevent 103Q aggregation, but altered the physical properties of the aggregates, most likely early in the assembly pathway, as reflected in their increased SDS solubility. Molecular simulations suggested that Gts1p arrests the aggregation of polyQ molecules at the level of nonfibrillar species, acting as a cap that destabilizes intermediates on path to form large fibrils. Quantitative proteomic analysis of polyQ interactors showed that expression of Gts1p reduced the interaction between polyQ and other prion-like proteins, and enhanced the association of molecular chaperones with the aggregates. These findings demonstrate that short, Q-rich peptides are able to shield the interactive surfaces of toxic forms of polyQ proteins and direct them into nontoxic aggregates.

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