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Loss-of-huntingtin in medial and lateral ganglionic lineages differentially disrupts regional interneuron and projection neuron subtypes and promotes Huntington’s disease-associated behavioral, cellular and pathological hallmarks.

J Neurosci. 2019 Jan 09;:

Authors: Mehler MF, Petronglo JR, Arteaga-Bracho EE, Gulinello M, Winchester ML, Pichamoorthy N, Young SK, DeJesus CD, Ishtiaq H, Gokhan S, Molero AE

Emerging studies are providing compelling evidence that the pathogenesis of Huntington’s disease (HD), a neurodegenerative disorder with frequent midlife onset, encompasses developmental components. Moreover, our previous studies using a hypomorphic model targeting huntingtin during the neurodevelopmental period indicated that loss-of-function mechanisms account for this pathogenic developmental component (Arteaga-Bracho et al., 2016). In the present study, we specifically ascertained the roles of subpallial lineage species in eliciting the previously observed HD-like phenotypes. Accordingly, we used the Cre-loxP system to conditionally ablate the murine huntingtin gene (Httflx) in cells expressing the subpallial patterning markers, Gsx2 (Gsx2-Cre) or Nkx2.1 (Nkx2.1-Cre) in Httflx mice of both genders. These genetic manipulations elicited anxiety-like behaviors, hyperkinetic locomotion, age-dependent motor deficits and weight loss in both Httflx;Gsx2-Cre and Httflx;Nkx2.1-Cre mice. In addition, these strains displayed unique but complementary spatial patterns of basal ganglia degeneration that are strikingly reminiscent of those seen in human cases of HD. Furthermore, we observed early deficits of somatostatin+ and Reelin+ interneurons in both Htt subpallial null-strains, as well as early increases of cholinergic interneurons, Foxp2+ arkypallidal neurons, and incipient deficits with age-dependent loss of parvalbumin+ neurons in Httflx;Nkx2.1-Cre mice. Overall, our findings indicate that selective loss-of-huntingtin function in subpallial lineages differentially disrupts the number, complement and survival of forebrain interneurons and globus pallidus GABAergic neurons, thereby leading to the development of key neurological hallmarks of HD during adult life. Our findings have important implications for the establishment and deployment of neural circuitries and the integrity of network reserve in health and disease.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTHD is a progressive degenerative disorder caused by aberrant trinucleotide expansion in the huntingtin gene. Mechanistically, this mutation involves both loss- and gain-of-function mechanisms affecting a broad array of cellular and molecular processes. Although huntingtin is widely expressed during adult life, the mutant protein only causes the demise of selective neuronal subtypes. The mechanisms accounting for this differential vulnerability remain elusive. In this study, we have demonstrated that loss-of-huntingtin function in subpallial lineages not only differentially disrupts distinct interneuron species early in life, but also leads to a pattern of neurological deficits that are reminiscent of HD. This work suggests that early disruption of selective neuronal subtypes may account for the profiles of enhanced regional cellular vulnerability to death in HD.

PMID: 30626701 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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