Huntingtin isoform maintains huntingtin function

The new work showed that the protein converted from disease form to its disease-free form maintains its original function, providing new roadblocks to approach Huntington’s disease. This research was published in the online edition of 'Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight'. 

Huntington's disease is a dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disease and is caused by a mutation in a protein called ‘huntingtin’, which adds a distinctive feature of an expanded stretch of glutamine amino acids called polyglutamine to the protein. It is estimated that one in every 10,000 have Huntington's disease in United States. The patients would suffer a decade of regression before death, and, thus far, there is no known cure for the disease. 

The cleavage near the stretched polyglutamine in mutated huntingtin is known to be the cause of the Huntington’s disease. However, as huntingtin protein is required for the development and normal function of the brain, it is critical to specifically eliminate the disease-causing protein while maintaining the ones that are still normally functioning. 

The research team showed that huntingtin delta 12, the converted form of huntingtin that is resistant to developing cleavages at the ends of the protein, the known cause of the Huntington’s disease (HD), alleviated the disease’s symptoms while maintaining the functions of normal huntingtin. Huntington's disease resistance huntingtin protein induced by antisense oligonucleotide (AON) is resistant to Caspase-6 cleavage, therefore, does not cause Huntington’s disease while maintaining normal functions of huntingtin.

The authors generated mice in which HTT exon12 was truncated and found that the canonical exon12 is dispensable for the main physiological functions of HTT, including embryonic development and intracellular trafficking.

They pharmacologically induced HTTΔ12 using the antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) QRX-704. QRX-704 showed predictable pharmacology and efficient biodistribution. In addition, it was stable for several months and inhibited pathogenic proteolysis. Furthermore, QRX-704 treatments resulted in a reduction of HTT aggregation and an increase in dendritic spine count. 
The research was welcomed as it is sure to fuel innovate strategies to tackle Huntington’s disease without altering the essential function of huntingtin.