Neuronal intranuclear inclusion disease (NIID) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the presence of intranuclear inclusions of unknown origin. NIID is caused by an expansion of GGC repeats in the 5' UTR of the NOTCH2NLC (N2C) gene. We found that these repeats are embedded in a small upstream open reading frame (uORF) (uN2C), resulting in their translation into a polyglycine-containing protein, uN2CpolyG. This protein accumulates in intranuclear inclusions in cell and mouse models and in tissue samples of individuals with NIID. Furthermore, expression of uN2CpolyG in mice leads to locomotor alterations, neuronal cell loss, and premature death of the animals. These results suggest that translation of expanded GGC repeats into a novel and pathogenic polyglycine-containing protein underlies the presence of intranuclear inclusions and neurodegeneration in NIID.
Keywords: RAN translation; genetic diseases; neurodegeneration; polyG; polyglycine; trinucleotide repeat disorder.
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