Huang B, Guo Q, Niedermeier ML, Cheng J, Engler T, Maurer M, Pautsch A, Baumeister W, Stengel F, Kochanek S, Fernández-Busnadiego R
Structure 2021 Apr 26:S0969-2126(21)00119-2 (in press).
The abnormal amplification of a CAG repeat in the gene coding for huntingtin (HTT) leads to Huntington’s disease (HD). At the protein level, this translates into the expansion of a polyglutamine (polyQ) stretch located at the HTT N terminus, which renders HTT aggregation prone by unknown mechanisms. Here we investigated the effects of polyQ expansion on HTT in a complex with its stabilizing interaction partner huntingtin-associated protein 40 (HAP40). Surprisingly, our comprehensive biophysical, crosslinking mass spectrometry and cryo-EM experiments revealed no major differences in the conformation of HTT-HAP40 complexes of various polyQ length, including 17QHTT-HAP40 (wild type), 46QHTT-HAP40 (typical polyQ length in HD patients), and 128QHTT-HAP40 (extreme polyQ length). Thus, HTT polyQ expansion does not alter the global conformation of HTT when associated with HAP40.