CAG Repeat Instability in the Peripheral and Central Nervous System of Transgenic Huntington's Disease Monkeys

Biomedicines. 2022 Aug 2;10(8):1863. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines10081863.


Huntington's Disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant disease that results in severe neurodegeneration with no cure. HD is caused by the expanded CAG trinucleotide repeat (TNR) on the Huntingtin gene (HTT). Although the somatic and germline expansion of the CAG repeats has been well-documented, the underlying mechanisms had not been fully delineated. Increased CAG repeat length is associated with a more severe phenotype, greater TNR instability, and earlier age of onset. The direct relationship between CAG repeat length and molecular pathogenesis makes TNR instability a useful measure of symptom severity and tissue susceptibility. Thus, we examined the tissue-specific TNR instability of transgenic nonhuman primate models of Huntington's disease. Our data show a similar profile of CAG repeat expansion in both rHD1 and rHD7, where high instability was observed in testis, liver, caudate, and putamen. CAG repeat expansion was observed in all tissue samples, and tissue- and CAG repeat size-dependent expansion was observed. Correlation analysis of CAG repeat expansion and the gene expression profile of four genes in different tissues, clusterin (CLU), transferrin (TF), ribosomal protein lateral stalk subunit P1 (RPLP1), and ribosomal protein L13a (RPL13A), showed a strong correlation with CAG repeat instability. Overall, our data, along with previously published studies, can be used for studying the biology of CAG repeat instability and identifying new therapeutic targets.

Keywords: Huntington’s disease; central nervous system; peripheral system; transgenic monkey model; trinucleotide repeats.