Association with proteasome determines pathogenic threshold of polyglutamine expansion diseases

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1 Scopus citations


Expansion of glutamine residue track (polyQ) within soluble protein is responsible for eight autosomal-dominant genetic neurodegenerative disorders. These disorders affect cerebellum, striatum, basal ganglia and other brain regions. Each disease develops when polyQ expansion exceeds a pathogenic threshold (Qth). A pathogenic threshold is unique for each disease but the reasons for variability in Qth within this family of proteins are poorly understood. In the previous publication we proposed that polarity of the regions flanking polyQ track in each protein plays a key role in defining Qth value [1]. To explain the correlation between the polarity of the flanking sequences and Qth we performed quantitative analysis of interactions between polyQ-expanded proteins and proteasome. Based on structural and theoretical modeling, we predict that Qth value is determined by the energy of polar interaction of the flanking regions with the polyQ and proteasome. More polar flanking regions facilitate unfolding of α-helical polyQ conformation adopted inside the proteasome and as a result, increase Qth. Predictions of our model are consistent with Qth values observed in clinic for each of the eight polyQ-expansion disorders. Our results suggest that the agents that can destabilize polyQ α-helical structure may have a beneficial therapeutic effect for treatment of polyQ-expansion disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-99
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
StatePublished - Jan 15 2021


  • Ataxin
  • Huntingtin
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Pathogenic conformation
  • Polyglutamine disorders
  • Proteasome dysfunction
  • Protein structure modeling
  • polyQ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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