, Volume 63, Issue 14, pp 1677-1685

Expansion of amino acid homo-sequences in proteins: Insights into the role of amino acid homo-polymers and of the protein context in aggregation

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Abstract.

Expansion of amino acid homo-sequences, such as polyglutamines or polyalanines, in proteins has been directly implicated in various degenerative diseases through a mechanism of protein misfolding and aggregation. However, it is still unclear how the nature of the expansion and the protein context influence the tendency of a protein to aggregate. Here, we have addressed these questions using spinocerebellar ataxia type-3 (ATX3) protein, the best characterised of the polyglutamine proteins, chosen as a model system. Using a transfected mammalian cell line, we demonstrate that ATX3 aggregation is noticeably reduced by deletion or replacement of regions other than the polyglutamine tract. The nature of the amino acid homo-sequences also has a strong influence on aggregation. From our studies, we draw general conclusions on the effect of the protein architecture and of the amino acid homo-sequence on pathology.

Received 3 March 2006; received after revision 19 April 2006; accepted 22 May 2006