Inhibition of huntingtin fibrillogenesis by specific antibodies and small molecules: implications for Huntington's disease therapy


  • V. Heiser
  • E. Scherzinger
  • A. Boeddrich
  • E. Nordhoff
  • R. Lurz
  • N. Schugardt
  • H. Lehrach
  • E.E. Wanker


  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America


  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 97 (12): 6739-6744


  • The accumulation of insoluble protein aggregates in intra and perinuclear inclusions is a hallmark of Huntington's disease (HD) and related glutamine-repeat disorders. A central question is whether protein aggregation plays a direct role in the pathogenesis of these neurodegenerative diseases. Here we show by using a filter retardation assay that the mAb 1C2, which specifically recognizes the elongated polyglutamine (polyQ) stretch in huntingtin, and the chemical compounds Congo red, thioflavine S, chrysamine G, and Direct fast yellow inhibit HD exon 1 protein aggregation in a dose-dependent manner. On the other hand, potential inhibitors of amyloid-beta formation such as thioflavine T, gossypol, melatonin, and rifampicin had little or no inhibitory effect on huntingtin aggregation in vitro. The results obtained by the filtration assay were confirmed by electron microscopy, SDS/PAGE, and MS. Furthermore, cell culture studies revealed that the Congo red dye at micromolar concentrations reduced the extent of HD exon 1 aggregation in transiently transfected COS cells. Together, these findings contribute to a better understanding of the mechanism of huntingtin fibrillogenesis in vitro and provide the basis for the development of new huntingtin aggregation inhibitors that may be effective in treating HD.