Identification of human proteins that modify misfolding and proteotoxicity of pathogenic ataxin-1

2012/08/16

Petrakis S, Raskó T, Russ J, Friedrich RP, Stroedicke M, Riechers SP, Muehlenberg K, Möller A, Reinhardt A, Vinayagam A, Schaefer MH, Boutros M, Tricoire H, Andrade-Navarro MA, Wanker EE.

PLoS Genet. 2012;8(8):e1002897. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002897. Epub 2012 Aug 16.OpenAccess Publication


Proteins with long, pathogenic polyglutamine (polyQ) sequences have an enhanced propensity to spontaneously misfold and self-assemble into insoluble protein aggregates. Here, we have identified 21 human proteins that influence polyQ-induced ataxin-1 misfolding and proteotoxicity in cell model systems. By analyzing the protein sequences of these modifiers, we discovered a recurrent presence of coiled-coil (CC) domains in ataxin-1 toxicity enhancers, while such domains were not present in suppressors. This suggests that CC domains contribute to the aggregation- and toxicity-promoting effects of modifiers in mammalian cells. We found that the ataxin-1-interacting protein MED15, computationally predicted to possess an N-terminal CC domain, enhances spontaneous ataxin-1 aggregation in cell-based assays, while no such effect was observed with the truncated protein MED15ΔCC, lacking such a domain. Studies with recombinant proteins confirmed these results and demonstrated that the N-terminal CC domain of MED15 (MED15CC) per se is sufficient to promote spontaneous ataxin-1 aggregation in vitro. Moreover, we observed that a hybrid Pum1 protein harboring the MED15CC domain promotes ataxin-1 aggregation in cell model systems. In strong contrast, wild-type Pum1 lacking a CC domain did not stimulate ataxin-1 polymerization. These results suggest that proteins with CC domains are potent enhancers of polyQ-mediated protein misfolding and aggregation in vitro and in vivo.

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