Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder associated with aging, caused by an expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) repeat within the Huntingtin (HTT) protein. In HD, degeneration of the striatum and atrophy of the cortex are observed while cerebellum is less affected.
To test the hypothesis that HTT protein levels decline with age, which together with HTT mutation could influence disease progression.
Using whole brain cell lysates, a unique method of SDS-PAGE and western analysis was used to quantitate HTT protein, which resolves as a monomer and as a high molecular weight species that is modulated by the presence of transglutaminase 2. HTT levels were measured in striatum, cortex and cerebellum in congenic homozygous Q140 and HdhQ150 knock-in mice and WT littermate controls.
Mutant HTT in both homozygous knock-in HD mouse models and WT HTT in control striatal and cortical tissues significantly declined in a progressive manner over time. Levels of mutant HTT in HD cerebellum remained high during aging.
A general decline in mutant HTT levels in striatum and cortex is observed that may contribute to disease progression in homozygous knock-in HD mouse models through reduction of HTT function. In cerebellum, sustained levels of mutant HTT with aging may be protective to this tissue which is less overtly affected in HD.