Expanded polyglutamine repeats have been proposed to cause neuronal degeneration in Huntington's disease (HD) and related disorders, through abnormal interactions with other proteins containing short polyglutamine tracts such as the transcriptional coactivator CREB binding protein, CBP. We found that CBP was depleted from its normal nuclear location and was present in polyglutamine aggregates in HD cell culture models, HD transgenic mice, and human HD postmortem brain. Expanded polyglutamine repeats specifically interfere with CBP-activated gene transcription, and overexpression of CBP rescued polyglutamine-induced neuronal toxicity. Thus, polyglutamine-mediated interference with CBP-regulated gene transcription may constitute a genetic gain of function, underlying the pathogenesis of polyglutamine disorders.
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