Trinucleotide repeat (TNR) expansions cause at least 17 heritable neurological diseases, including Huntington’s disease. Expansions are thought to arise from abnormal processing of TNR DNA by specific trans-acting proteins. For example, the DNA repair complex MutSβ (MSH2–MSH3 heterodimer) is required in mice for on-going expansions of long, disease-causing alleles. A distinctive feature of TNR expansions is a threshold effect, a narrow range of repeat units (∼30–40 in humans) at which mutation frequency rises dramatically and disease can initiate. The goal of this study was to identify factors that promote expansion of threshold-length CTG•CAG repeats in a human astrocytic cell line. siRNA knockdown of the MutSβ subunits MSH2 or MSH3 impeded expansions of threshold-length repeats, while knockdown of the MutSα subunit MSH6 had no effect. Chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments indicated that MutSβ, but not MutSα, was enriched at the TNR. These findings imply a direct role for MutSβ in promoting expansion of threshold-length CTG•CAG tracts. We identified the class II deacetylase HDAC5 as a novel promoting factor for expansions, joining the class I deacetylase HDAC3 that was previously identified. Double knockdowns were consistent with the possibility that MutSβ, HDAC3 and HDAC5 act through a common pathway to promote expansions of threshold-length TNRs.
Source: Oxford Journals