Polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases are caused by expansion of translated CAG repeats in distinct genes leading to altered protein function. In spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1), a gain of function of polyQ-expanded ataxin-1 (ATXN1) contributes to cerebellar pathology. The extent to which cerebellar toxicity depends on its cognate partner capicua (CIC), versus other interactors, remains unclear. It is also not established whether loss of the ATXN1-CIC complex in the cerebellum contributes to disease pathogenesis. In this study, we exclusively disrupt the ATXN1-CIC interaction in vivo and show that it is at the crux of cerebellar toxicity in SCA1. Importantly, loss of CIC in the cerebellum does not cause ataxia or Purkinje cell degeneration. Expression profiling of these gain- and loss-of-function models, coupled with data from iPSC-derived neurons from SCA1 patients, supports a mechanism in which gain of function of the ATXN1-CIC complex is the major driver of toxicity. Rousseaux, Tschumperlin, Lu, and colleagues show that formation of the ATXN1-CIC complex is critical for polyQ-expanded ATXN1-mediated toxicity. They find that this complex mediates its effects through a gain-of-function mechanism in the cerebellum of SCA1 mice and SCA1 patient-derived neurons.
- RAN translation
- RNA toxicity