Ataxin-1 with an expanded glutamine tract alters nuclear matrix- associated structures

Pamela J Skinner, Beena T. Koshy, Christopher J. Cummings, Ivan A. Klement, Kara Helin, Antonio Servadio, Huda Y. Zoghbi, Harry T Orr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

479 Scopus citations


Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is one of several neurodegenerative disorders caused by an expansion of a polyglutamine tract. It is characterized by ataxia, progressive motor deterioration, and loss of cerebellar Purkinje cells. To understand the pathogenesis of SCA1, we examined the subcellular localization of wild-type human ataxin-1 (the protein encoded by the SCA1 gene) and mutant ataxin-1 in the Purkinje cells of transgenic mice. We found that ataxin-1 localizes to the nuclei of cerebellar Purkinje cells. Normal ataxin-1 localizes to several nuclear structures ~0.5 μm across, whereas the expanded ataxin-1 localizes to a single ~2-μm structure, before the onset of ataxia. Mutant ataxin-1 localizes to a single nuclear structure in affected neurons of SGA1 patients. Similarly, COS-1 cells transfected with wild-type or mutant ataxin-1 show a similar pattern of nuclear localization; with expanded ataxin-1 occurring in larger structures that are fewer in number than those of normal ataxin-1. Colocalization studies show that mutant ataxin-1 causes a specific redistribution of the nuclear matrix-associated domain containing, promyelocytic leukaemia protein. Nuclear matrix preparations demonstrate that ataxin-1 associates with the nuclear matrix in Purkinje and COS cells. We therefore propose that a critical aspect of SGA1 pathogenesis involves the disruption of a nuclear matrix-associated domain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)971-974
Number of pages4
Issue number6654
StatePublished - Nov 24 1997

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