Silencing mutant huntingtin by adeno-associated virus-mediated RNA interference ameliorates disease manifestations in the YAC128 mouse model of Huntington's disease

Hum Gene Ther. 2014 May;25(5):461-74. doi: 10.1089/hum.2013.200. Epub 2014 Mar 21.


Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease caused by an increase in the number of polyglutamine residues in the huntingtin (Htt) protein. With the identification of the underlying basis of HD, therapies are being developed that reduce expression of the causative mutant Htt. RNA interference (RNAi) that seeks to selectively reduce the expression of such disease-causing agents is emerging as a potential therapeutic strategy for this and similar disorders. This study examines the merits of administering a recombinant adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector designed to deliver small interfering RNA (siRNA) that targets the degradation of the Htt transcript. The aim was to lower Htt levels and to correct the behavioral, biochemical, and neuropathological deficits shown to be associated with the YAC128 mouse model of HD. Our data demonstrate that AAV-mediated RNAi is effective at transducing greater than 80% of the cells in the striatum and partially reducing the levels (~40%) of both wild-type and mutant Htt in this region. Concomitant with these reductions are significant improvements in behavioral deficits, reduction of striatal Htt aggregates, and partial correction of the aberrant striatal transcriptional profile observed in YAC128 mice. Importantly, a partial reduction of both the mutant and wild-type Htt levels is not associated with any notable overt neurotoxicity. Collectively, these results support the continued development of AAV-mediated RNAi as a therapeutic strategy for HD.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Dependovirus / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Huntingtin Protein
  • Huntington Disease / genetics*
  • Huntington Disease / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Mutant Proteins / genetics*
  • Neostriatum / metabolism
  • Neostriatum / pathology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transduction, Genetic


  • HTT protein, human
  • Huntingtin Protein
  • MicroRNAs
  • Mutant Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger