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Chromosome, Gene, Protein, and Pathogenesis of Huntington's Chorea

Huntington's Chorea, also known as Huntington's Disease (HD), is a progressive neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements, cognitive decline, and psychiatric symptoms. This article will delve into the chromosome, gene, and protein involved in HD, as well as the pathogenesis of this debilitating disorder.

Chromosome and gene

Huntington's Disease is an autosomal dominant disorder caused by an expansion of a trinucleotide repeat (CAG) on chromosome 4. The gene affected by this expansion is called HTT (huntingtin), which spans over 200 kilobases and contains 67 exons. The protein product of the HTT gene is called huntingtin, which plays a crucial role in various cellular functions.

Trinucleotide repeat expansion

Normal HTT alleles typically contain 6 to 35 CAG repeats, whereas HD alleles have 36 or more CAG repeats. The number of repeats can influence the age of onset and severity of the disease, with longer repeats generally leading to earlier onset and more severe symptoms. This expanded CAG repeat results in the production of an abnormally long polyglutamine (polyQ) tract in the huntingtin protein, which contributes to the toxic properties of the mutated protein.

Huntingtin protein

The normal huntingtin protein plays a critical role in neuronal health, with functions in synaptic transmission, vesicle trafficking, and regulation of gene transcription. The exact molecular function of huntingtin is not yet fully understood, but it is known to interact with numerous proteins in various cellular pathways.

In HD, the mutated huntingtin protein accumulates and forms intracellular aggregates, which are thought to contribute to neuronal dysfunction and death. It is also suggested that the mutant protein may exert its toxic effects through a gain-of-function mechanism, where the elongated polyQ tract interferes with normal protein-protein interactions.

Pathogenesis of Huntington's Chorea

The pathogenesis of HD is complex and not yet completely understood, but several key mechanisms have been identified:

a. Neuronal dysfunction and cell death: The mutant huntingtin protein aggregates and causes damage to neurons, particularly in the striatum and cortex, which are critical for motor control, cognition, and emotion regulation.

b. Transcriptional dysregulation: The elongated polyQ tract in the mutant huntingtin protein interferes with transcription factors, leading to altered gene expression and contributing to cellular dysfunction.

c. Mitochondrial dysfunction: The mutant huntingtin protein disrupts mitochondrial function, causing increased oxidative stress, reduced ATP production, and ultimately, neuronal death.

d. Impaired axonal transport: The mutant huntingtin protein disrupts the microtubule-based transport system in neurons, leading to impaired delivery of essential components to synaptic terminals.

e. Synaptic dysfunction: The accumulation of mutant huntingtin protein in synapses disrupts synaptic transmission, contributing to neuronal dysfunction and cell death.

Huntington's Chorea is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder resulting from an expansion of the CAG repeat in the HTT gene on chromosome 4. This mutation leads to the production of a mutant huntingtin protein with an elongated polyQ tract, which disrupts various cellular pathways and contributes to the pathogenesis of the disease. Despite advances in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying HD, no cure is currently available, and treatment options are limited to symptom management. Ongoing research aims to further unravel the complexities of HD pathogenesis and develop novel therapeutic strategies to halt or reverse the progression of this devastating disorder.