Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor, psychiatric, and cognitive abnormalities. In this present study, we tested whether abnormal motor behavior in a mouse model of HD, the R6/1 transgenic (Tg) mice, was associated with changes in cerebellar lipid composition and gene expression. We report altered motor behavior, which was associated with abnormal expression of glycosyltransferase genes in the cerebellum of R6/1 Tg mice. Cerebellar wet weight and total ganglioside concentration was significantly lower in R6/1 Tg mice than in wild-type (Wt) mice. Furthermore, the Purkinje cell-enriched ganglioside LD1 and the granule cell-enriched ganglioside GD1a were significantly lower in R6/1 Tg mice than in Wt mice. The myelin-enriched lipid sulfatides was also reduced in the cerebellum of R6/1 Tg mice. In contrast to the R6/1 Tg mice, total cerebellar ganglioside concentration did not differ between HD and control subjects. However, expression of several cerebellar glycosyltransferases genes was significantly less in HD subjects than in control subjects. Our findings indicate that the R6/1 Tg mice have severe cerebellar glycosphingolipid (GSL) abnormalities that may account, in part, for their abnormal motor behavior. Although the cerebellar lipid abnormalities found in the R6/1 Tg mice were not found in these HD subjects, the R6/1 Tg mice may be useful for evaluating the role of GSLs in cerebellar development.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal of Neurochemistry © 2010 International Society for Neurochemistry.