Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG expansion in the ATXN3 gene leading to a polyglutamine expansion in the ataxin-3 protein. The nuclear presence and aggregation of expanded ataxin-3 are critical steps in disease pathogenesis. To identify novel therapeutic targets, we investigated the nucleocytoplasmic transport system by screening a collection of importins and exportins that potentially modulate this nuclear localization. Using cell, Drosophila, and mouse models, we focused on three transport proteins, namely, CRM1, IPO13, KPNA3, and their respective Drosophila orthologs Emb, Cdm, and Kap-α3. While overexpression of CRM1/Emb demonstrated positive effects in Drosophila, KPNA3/Kap-α3 emerged as the most promising target, as knockdown via multiple RNAi lines demonstrated its ability to shuttle both truncated and full-length expanded ataxin-3, rescue neurodegeneration, restore photoreceptor formation, and reduce aggregation. Furthermore, KPNA3 knockout in SCA3 mice resulted in an amelioration of molecular and behavioral disturbances such as total activity, anxiety, and gait. Since KPNA3 is known to function as an import protein and recognize nuclear localization signals (NLSs), this work unites ataxin-3 structure to the nuclear pore machinery and provides a link between karyopherins, NLS signals, and polyglutamine disease, as well as demonstrates that KPNA3 is a key player in the pathogenesis of SCA3.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - 01.01.2018|
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)