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Altered transcription in yeast expressing expanded polyglutamine

The National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
  • Biological Sciences
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Pharmacology


Expanded polyglutamine tracts are responsible for at least eight fatal neurodegenerative diseases. In mouse models, proteins with expanded polyglutamine cause transcriptional dysregulation before onset of symptoms, suggesting that this dysregulation may be an early event in polyglutamine pathogenesis. Transcriptional dysregulation and cellular toxicity may be due to interaction between expanded polyglutamine and the histone acetyltransferase CREB-binding protein. To determine whether polyglutamine-mediated transcriptional dysregulation occurs in yeast, we expressed polyglutamine tracts in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Gene expression profiles were determined for strains expressing either a cytoplasmic or nuclear protein with 23 or 75 glutamines, and these profiles were compared to existing profiles of mutant yeast strains. Transcriptional induction of genes encoding chaperones and heat-shock factors was caused by expression of expanded polyglutamine in either the nucleus or cytoplasm. Transcriptional repression was most prominent in yeast expressing nuclear expanded polyglutamine and was similar to profiles of yeast strains deleted for components of the histone acetyltransferase complex Spt/Ada/Gcn5 acetyltransferase (SAGA). The promoter from one affected gene (PHO84) was repressed by expanded polyglutamine in a reporter gene assay, and this effect was mitigated by the histone deacetylase inhibitor, Trichostatin A. Consistent with an effect on SAGA, nuclear expanded polyglutamine enhanced the toxicity of a deletion in the SAGA component SPT3. Thus, an early component of polyglutamine toxicity, transcriptional dysregulation, is conserved in yeast and is pharmacologically antagonized by a histone deacetylase inhibitor. These results suggest a therapeutic approach for treatment of polyglutamine diseases and provide the potential for yeast-based screens for agents that reverse polyglutamine toxicity.

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