Neuronal aggregates are associated with phenotypic onset in the R6/2 Huntington's disease transgenic mouse

Behav Brain Res. 2012 Apr 15;229(2):308-19. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.12.045. Epub 2012 Jan 28.


Huntington's disease (HD) is caused by the expansion of the polyglutamine tract expressed in the huntingtin protein. Data from patients show a strong negative correlation between CAG repeat size and age of disease onset. Recent studies in mixed background C57×CBA R6/2 mice suggest the inverse correlation observed in the human disease may not be replicated in some animal models of HD. To further clarify the relationship between repeat length and age of onset, congenic C57BL6/J R6/2 transgenic mice expressing 110, 260 or 310 CAG were tested in a comprehensive behavioral battery at multiple ages. Data confirmed the findings of earlier studies and indicate that on a pure C57BL6/J genetic background, R6/2 mice with larger repeats exhibit a delay in phenotypic onset with increasing polyglutamine size (6 weeks in 110 CAG and 17 weeks in 310 CAG mice). Further analysis confirmed a decrease in transgene transcript expression in 310 CAG mice as well as differential aggregated protein localization in association with repeat length. Mice expressing 110 CAG developed aggregates that localized almost exclusively to the nucleus of neuronal cells in the striatum and cortex. In contrast, tissue from 310 CAG mice exhibited predominantly extranuclear inclusions. Novel mutant protein analysis obtained using time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) revealed that soluble protein levels decreased with disease onset in R6/2 mice while aggregated protein levels increased. We believe that these data suggest a role for aggregation and inclusion localization in HD pathogenesis and propose a mechanism for the age of onset delay observed in R6/2 mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fear / physiology
  • Humans
  • Huntingtin Protein
  • Huntington Disease / genetics*
  • Huntington Disease / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sensory Gating / physiology
  • Trinucleotide Repeat Expansion / genetics
  • Trinucleotide Repeat Expansion / physiology


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