PLoS genetics

Elimination of huntingtin in the adult mouse leads to progressive behavioral deficits, bilateral thalamic calcification, and altered brain iron homeostasis.

PMID 28715425


Huntington's Disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by cognitive, behavioral and motor dysfunctions. HD is caused by a CAG repeat expansion in exon 1 of the HD gene that is translated into an expanded polyglutamine tract in the encoded protein, huntingtin (HTT). While the most significant neuropathology of HD occurs in the striatum, other brain regions are also affected and play an important role in HD pathology. To date there is no cure for HD, and recently strategies aiming at silencing HTT expression have been initiated as possible therapeutics for HD. However, the essential functions of HTT in the adult brain are currently unknown and hence the consequence of sustained suppression of HTT expression is unpredictable and can potentially be deleterious. Using the Cre-loxP system of recombination, we conditionally inactivated the mouse HD gene homologue at 3, 6 and 9 months of age. Here we show that elimination of Htt expression in the adult mouse results in behavioral deficits, progressive neuropathological changes including bilateral thalamic calcification, and altered brain iron homeostasis.