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Chiang, MC, Chen, HM, Lee, YH, Chang, HH, Wu, YC, Soong, BW, Chen, CM, Wu, YR, Liu, CS, Niu, DM, Wu, JY, Chen, YT and Chern, Y (2007) Dysregulation of C/EBPalpha by mutant Huntingtin causes the urea cycle deficiency in Huntington's disease. Hum. Mol. Genet. 16:483-98


Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease caused by a CAG trinucleotide expansion in the Huntingtin (Htt) gene. Using two mouse models of HD, we demonstrate that the urea cycle deficiency characterized by hyperammonemia, high blood citrulline and suppression of urea cycle enzymes is a prominent feature of HD. The resultant ammonia toxicity might exacerbate the neurological deficits of HD. Suppression of C/EBPalpha, a crucial transcription factor for the transcription of urea cycle enzymes, appears to mediate the urea cycle deficiency in HD. We found that in the presence of mutant Htt, C/EBPalpha loses its ability to interact with an important cofactor (CREB-binding protein). Moreover, mutant Htt recruited C/EBPalpha into aggregates, as well as suppressed expression of the C/EBPalpha gene. Consumption of protein-restricted diets not only led to the restoration of C/EBPalpha's activity, and repair of the urea cycle deficiency and hyperammonemia, but also ameliorated the formation of Htt aggregates, the motor deterioration, the suppression of striatal brain-derived neurotrophic factor and the normalization of three protein chaperones (Hsp27, Hsp70 and Hsp90). Treatments aimed at repairing the urea cycle deficiency may provide a new strategy for dealing with HD.


PubMed Online version:10.1093/hmg/ddl481


Animals; Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor/metabolism; CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-alpha/metabolism; Citrulline/blood; Diet; Disease Progression; Down-Regulation; Female; Humans; Huntington Disease/metabolism; Liver/enzymology; Male; Mice; Middle Aged; Motor Activity; Mutant Proteins/metabolism; Nerve Tissue Proteins/chemistry; Nerve Tissue Proteins/metabolism; Nuclear Proteins/chemistry; Nuclear Proteins/metabolism; Promoter Regions, Genetic/genetics; Protein Binding; Protein Structure, Quaternary; Urea/metabolism



Gene product Qualifier GO ID GO term name Evidence Code with/from Aspect Notes Status

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