Modifying the length of the Huntington's disease (HD) CAG repeat, the major determinant of age of disease onset, is an attractive therapeutic approach. To explore this we are investigating mechanisms of intergenerational and somatic HD CAG repeat instability. Here, we have crossed HD CAG knock-in mice onto backgrounds deficient in mismatch repair genes, Msh3 and Msh6, to discern the effects on CAG repeat size and disease pathogenesis. We find that different mechanisms predominate in inherited and somatic instability, with Msh6 protecting against intergenerational contractions and Msh3 required both for increasing CAG length and for enhancing an early disease phenotype in striatum. Therefore, attempts to decrease inherited repeat size may entail a full understanding of Msh6 complexes, while attempts to block the age-dependent increases in CAG size in striatal neurons and to slow the disease process will require a full elucidation of Msh3 complexes and their function in CAG repeat instability.
- Huntington's disease
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