The N-terminus of Huntingtin, the protein encoded by the Huntington’s disease gene, contains a stretch of polyglutamine residues that is expanded in Huntington’s disease. The polyglutamine stretch is flanked by two conserved protein domains in vertebrates: an N1-17 domain, and a proline-rich region (PRR). The PRR can modulate the structure of the adjacent polyglutamine stretch, and is a binding site for several interacting proteins. To determine the role of the PRR in Huntingtin function, we have generated a knock-in allele of the mouse Huntington’s disease gene homolog that expresses full-length normal huntingtin lacking the PRR. Mice that are homozygous for the huntingtin PRR deletion are born at the normal Mendelian frequency, suggesting that the PRR is not required for essential huntingtin functions during embryonic development. Moreover, adult homozygous mutants did not exhibit any significant differences from wild-type controls in general motor function and motor learning. However, 18 month-old male, but not female, homozygous PRR deletion mutants exhibited deficits in the Morris water task, suggesting that age-dependent spatial learning and memory may be affected in a sex-specific fashion by the huntingtin PRR deletion.
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