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FAN1 modifies Huntington's disease progression by stabilising the expanded HTT CAG repeat

Goold, Robert, Flower, Michael, Moss, Davina Hensman, Medway, Christopher ORCID:, Wood-Kaczmar, Alison, Andre, Ralph, Farshim, Pamela, Bates, Gill P, Holmans, Peter ORCID:, Jones, Lesley ORCID: and Tabrizi, Sarah J 2019. FAN1 modifies Huntington's disease progression by stabilising the expanded HTT CAG repeat. Human Molecular Genetics 28 (4) , pp. 650-661. 10.1093/hmg/ddy375

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Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disease caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the HTT gene. CAG repeat length explains around half of the variation in age-at-onset, but genetic variation elsewhere in the genome accounts for a significant proportion of the remainder. Genome-wide association studies have identified a bidirectional signal on chromosome 15, likely underlain by FAN1 (FANCD2 and FANCI Associated Nuclease 1), a nuclease involved in DNA interstrand cross link repair. Here we show that increased FAN1 expression is significantly associated with delayed age-at-onset and slower progression of HD suggesting FAN1 is protective in the context of an expanded HTT CAG repeat. FAN1 overexpression in human cells reduces CAG repeat expansion in exogenously expressed mutant HTT exon 1, and in patient-derived stem cells and differentiated medium spiny neurons, FAN1 knockdown increases CAG repeat expansion. The stabilising effect is FAN1 concentration and CAG repeat length dependent. We show that FAN1 binds to the expanded HTT CAG repeat DNA and its nuclease activity is not required for protection against CAG repeat expansion. These data shed new mechanistic insights into how the genetic modifiers of HD act to alter disease progression, and show that FAN1 affects somatic expansion of the CAG repeat through a nuclease-independent mechanism. This provides new avenues for therapeutic interventions in HD and potentially other triplet repeat disorders.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: Oxford Open
ISSN: 0964-6906
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 October 2018
Date of Acceptance: 16 October 2018
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2023 02:52

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