Huntington's disease is characterized by the formation of protein aggregates, which can be degraded by macroautophagy. Here, we studied protein levels and intracellular distribution of p62 and NBR1, two macroautophagy cargo receptors, during disease progression. In R6/1 mice, p62 and NBR1 protein levels were decreased in all brain regions analyzed early in the disease, whereas at late stages they accumulated in the striatum and hippocampus, but not in the cortex. The accumulation of p62, but not NBR1, occurred in neuronal nuclei, where it co-localized with mutant huntingtin inclusions, both in R6/1 and Huntington's disease patients. Moreover, exportin-1 was selectively decreased in old R6/1 mice brain, and could worsen p62 nuclear accumulation. In conclusion, p62 interacts with mutant huntingtin and is retained in the nucleus along the progression of the disease, mostly in striatal and hippocampal neurons. Thus, cytoplasmic NBR1 might be important to maintain basal levels of selective macroautophagy in these neurons.
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