One-Pot Semisynthesis of Exon 1 of the Huntingtin Protein: New Tools for Elucidating the Role of Posttranslational Modifications in the Pathogenesis of Huntington's Disease
The natural enzymes involved in regulating many of the posttranslational modifications (PTMs) within the first 17 residues (Nt17) of Huntingtin exon1 (Httex1) remain unknown. A semisynthetic strategy that allows the site-specific introduction of PTMs within Nt17 by using expressed protein ligation (EPL) was developed. This strategy was used to produce untagged wild-type (wt) and T3-phosphorylated (pT3) Httex1 containing 23 glutamine residues (Httex1-23Q). Our studies show that pT3 significantly slows the oligomerization and fibrillization of Httex1-23Q and that Httex1 variants containing polyQ repeats below the pathogenic threshold readily aggregate and form fibrils invitro. These findings suggest that crossing the polyQ pathogenic threshold is not essential for Httex1 aggregation. The ability to produce wt or site-specifically modified tag-free Httex1 should facilitate determining its structure and the role of N-terminal PTMs in regulating the functions of Htt in health and disease.