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PGC-1alpha downstream transcription factors NRF-1 and TFAM are genetic modifiers of Huntington disease

Author(s): Taherzadeh-Fard Elahe | Saft Carsten | Akkad Denis | Wieczorek Stefan | Haghikia Aiden | Chan Andrew | Epplen Jörg | Arning Larissa

Journal: Molecular Neurodegeneration
ISSN 1750-1326

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 32;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background Huntington disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disease caused by an abnormal expansion of a CAG repeat in the huntingtin HTT (HD) gene. The primary genetic determinant of the age at onset (AO) is the length of the HTT CAG repeat; however, the remaining genetic contribution to the AO of HD has largely not been elucidated. Recent studies showed that impaired functioning of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1a (PGC-1alpha) contributes to mitochondrial dysfunction and appears to play an important role in HD pathogenesis. Further genetic evidence for involvement of PGC-1alpha in HD pathogenesis was generated by the findings that sequence variations in the PPARGC1A gene encoding PGC-1alpha exert modifying effects on the AO in HD. In this study, we hypothesised that polymorphisms in PGC-1alpha downstream targets might also contribute to the variation in the AO. Results In over 400 German HD patients, polymorphisms in the nuclear respiratory factor 1 gene, NRF-1, and the mitochondrial transcription factor A, encoded by TFAM showed nominally significant association with AO of HD. When combining these results with the previously described modifiers rs7665116 in PPARGC1A and C7028T in the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (CO1, mt haplogroup H) in a multivariable model, a substantial proportion of the variation in AO can be explained by the joint effect of significant modifiers and their interactions, respectively. Conclusions These results underscore that impairment of mitochondrial function plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of HD and that upstream transcriptional activators of PGC-1alpha may be useful targets in the treatment of HD.
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