Spinocerebellar ataxia type1 (SCA1) is one of several neurodegenerative disorders caused by expansions of translated CAG trinucleotide repeats which code for polyglutamine in the respective proteins. Most hypotheses about the molecular defect in these disorders suggest a gain of function, which may involve interactions with other proteins via the expanded polyglutamine tract. In this study we used ataxin-1, the SCA1 gene product, as a bait in the yeast two-hybrid system and identified the glycolytic enzyme glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase as an ataxin-1 interacting protein. In addition, the yeast two hybrid data demonstrate that wild type and mutant ataxin-1 form homo and heterodimers. Physical interaction between GAPDH and ataxin-1 was also demonstrated in vitro. To investigate if GAPDH might interact with other glutamine repeat-containing proteins involved in neurodegenerative disorders, we tested its binding to the androgen receptor which is mutated in spinobulbar muscular atrophy. The androgen receptor interacts with GAPDH both in the yeast two-hybrid system and in vitro. The binding of both ataxin-1 and the androgen receptor to GAPDH does not vary with the length of the polyglutamine tract. While provocative, these findings do not address the selective neuronal loss in each of these disorders in light of the wide expression patterns of GAPDH and the respective polyglutamine containing proteins. Nonetheless, such interactions may increase the susceptibility of specific neurons to a variety of insults and initiate degeneration.
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