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RORalpha-mediated Purkinje cell development determines disease severity in adult SCA1 mice.

Serra HG, Duvick L, Zu T, Carlson K, Stevens S, Jorgensen N, Lysholm A, Burright E, Zoghbi HY, Clark HB, Andresen JM, Orr HT


Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is one of nine inherited, typically adult onset, polyglutamine neurodegenerative diseases. To examine whether development impacts SCA1, we used a conditional transgenic mouse model of SCA1 to delay the postnatal expression of mutant ATXN1 until after completion of cerebellar development. Delayed postnatal expression of mutant ATXN1 led to a substantial reduction in severity of disease in adults in comparison with early postnatal gene expression. This was linked to a destabilization of RORalpha, a transcription factor critical for cerebellar development. In SCA1 mice, there was a depletion of RORalpha and a reduction in expression of genes controlled by RORalpha. Partial loss of RORalpha enhanced mutant ATXN1 pathogenicity. Additionally, evidence points to the existence of a complex containing ATXN1, RORalpha, and the RORalpha coactivator Tip60. These studies indicate RORalpha and Tip60 have a role in SCA1 and suggest a mechanism by which compromising cerebellar development contributes to severity of neurodegeneration in an adult.

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