Autophagy Function and Benefits of Autophagy Induction in Models of Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 3

Watchon, M., Luu, L., Plenderleith, S.K., Yuan, K.C., Laird, A.S.
Cells   12(6): (Journal)
Registered Authors
Laird, Angela, Luu, Luan, Watchon, Maxinne, Yuan, Kristy
autophagy, polyglutamine, zebrafish
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Ataxin-3/genetics
  • Autophagy/physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Machado-Joseph Disease*/genetics
  • Machado-Joseph Disease*/metabolism
  • Neuroblastoma*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*
  • Zebrafish/metabolism
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Spinocerebellar ataxia 3 (SCA3, also known as Machado Joseph disease) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease caused by the expansion of the trinucleotide repeat region within the ATXN3/MJD gene. The presence of this genetic expansion results in an ataxin-3 protein containing a polyglutamine repeat region, which renders the ataxin-3 protein aggregation prone. Formation of ataxin-3 protein aggregates is linked with neuronal loss and, therefore, the development of motor deficits.
Here, we investigated whether the autophagy protein quality control pathway, which is important in the process of protein aggregate removal, is impaired in a cell culture and zebrafish model of SCA3.
We found that SH-SY5Y cells expressing human ataxin-3 containing polyglutamine expansion exhibited aberrant levels of autophagy substrates, including increased p62 and decreased LC3II (following bafilomycin treatment), compared to the controls. Similarly, transgenic SCA3 zebrafish showed signs of autophagy impairment at early disease stages (larval), as well as p62 accumulation at advanced age stages (18 months old). We then examined whether treating with compounds known to induce autophagy activity, would aid removal of human ataxin-3 84Q and improve the swimming of the SCA3 zebrafish larvae. We found that treatment with loperamide, trehalose, rapamycin, and MG132 each improved the swimming of the SCA3 zebrafish compared to the vehicle-treated controls.
We propose that signs of autophagy impairment occur in the SH-SY5Y model of SCA3 and SCA3 zebrafish at larval and advanced age stages. Treatment of the larval SCA3 zebrafish with various compounds with autophagy induction capacity was able to produce the improved swimming of the zebrafish, suggesting the potential benefit of autophagy-inducing compounds for the treatment of SCA3.
Genes / Markers
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Mutations / Transgenics
Human Disease / Model
Sequence Targeting Reagents
Engineered Foreign Genes