JNK mediates pathogenic effects of polyglutamine-expanded androgen receptor on fast axonal transport. Academic Article uri icon


  • Expansion of the polyglutamine (polyQ) stretch in the androgen receptor (AR) protein leads to spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), a neurodegenerative disease characterized by lower motor neuron degeneration. The pathogenic mechanisms underlying SBMA remain unknown, but recent experiments show that inhibition of fast axonal transport (FAT) by polyQ-expanded proteins, including polyQ-AR, represents a new cytoplasmic pathogenic lesion. Using pharmacological, biochemical and cell biological experiments, we found a new pathogenic pathway that is affected in SBMA and results in compromised FAT. PolyQ-AR inhibits FAT in a human cell line and in squid axoplasm through a pathway that involves activation of cJun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activity. Active JNK phosphorylated kinesin-1 heavy chains and inhibited kinesin-1 microtubule-binding activity. JNK inhibitors prevented polyQ-AR-mediated inhibition of FAT and reversed suppression of neurite formation by polyQ-AR. We propose that JNK represents a promising target for therapeutic interventions in SBMA.

publication date

  • July 2006