Neuropathogenic forms of huntingtin and androgen receptor inhibit fast axonal transport

Neuron. 2003 Sep 25;40(1):41-52. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00569-5.


Huntington's and Kennedy's disease are autosomal dominant neurodegenerative diseases caused by pathogenic expansion of polyglutamine tracts. Expansion of glutamine repeats must in some way confer a gain of pathological function that disrupts an essential cellular process and leads to loss of affected neurons. Association of huntingtin with vesicular structures raised the possibility that axonal transport might be altered. Here we show that polypeptides containing expanded polyglutamine tracts, but not normal N-terminal huntingtin or androgen receptor, directly inhibit both fast axonal transport in isolated axoplasm and elongation of neuritic processes in intact cells. Effects were greater with truncated polypeptides and occurred without detectable morphological aggregates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport / physiology*
  • Cell Size / physiology
  • Decapodiformes
  • Humans
  • Huntingtin Protein
  • Nerve Degeneration / genetics
  • Nerve Degeneration / metabolism
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / chemistry
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Nuclear Proteins / chemistry
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / chemistry
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • HTT protein, human
  • Huntingtin Protein
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • polyglutamine