Thiol-disulfide Oxidoreductases TRX1 and TMX3 Decrease Neuronal Atrophy in a Lentiviral Mouse Model of Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease (HD) is caused by a trinucleotide CAG repeat in the huntingtin gene (HTT) that results in expression of a polyglutamine-expanded mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT). N-terminal fragments of mHTT accumulate in brain neurons and glia as soluble monomeric and oligomeric species as well as insoluble protein aggregates and drive the disease process. Decreasing mHTT levels in brain provides protection and reversal of disease signs in HD mice making mHTT a prime target for disease modification. There is evidence for aberrant thiol oxidation within mHTT and other proteins in HD models. Based on this, we hypothesized that a specific thiol-disulfide oxidoreductase exists that decreases mHTT levels in cells and provides protection in HD mice. We undertook an in-vitro genetic screen of key thiol-disulfide oxidoreductases then completed secondary screens to identify those with mHTT decreasing properties. Our in-vitro experiments identified thioredoxin 1 and thioredoxin-related transmembrane protein 3 as proteins that decrease soluble mHTT levels in cultured cells. Using a lentiviral mouse model of HD we tested the effect of these proteins in striatum. Both proteins decreased mHTT-induced striatal neuronal atrophy. Findings provide evidence for a role of dysregulated protein-thiol homeostasis in the pathogenesis of HD.