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Ataxin-1 regulates B cell function and the severity of autoimmune experimental encephalomyelitis.

  • Author(s): Didonna, Alessandro;
  • Canto Puig, Ester;
  • Ma, Qin;
  • Matsunaga, Atsuko;
  • Ho, Brenda;
  • Caillier, Stacy J;
  • Shams, Hengameh;
  • Lee, Nicholas;
  • Hauser, Stephen L;
  • Tan, Qiumin;
  • Zamvil, Scott S;
  • Oksenberg, Jorge R
  • et al.

Ataxin-1 (ATXN1) is a ubiquitous polyglutamine protein expressed primarily in the nucleus where it binds chromatin and functions as a transcriptional repressor. Mutant forms of ataxin-1 containing expanded glutamine stretches cause the movement disorder spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) through a toxic gain-of-function mechanism in the cerebellum. Conversely, ATXN1 loss-of-function is implicated in cancer development and Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis. ATXN1 was recently nominated as a susceptibility locus for multiple sclerosis (MS). Here, we show that Atxn1-null mice develop a more severe experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) course compared to wildtype mice. The aggravated phenotype is mediated by increased T helper type 1 (Th1) cell polarization, which in turn results from the dysregulation of B cell activity. Ataxin-1 ablation in B cells leads to aberrant expression of key costimulatory molecules involved in proinflammatory T cell differentiation, including cluster of differentiation (CD)44 and CD80. In addition, comprehensive phosphoflow cytometry and transcriptional profiling link the exaggerated proliferation of ataxin-1 deficient B cells to the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) pathways. Lastly, selective deletion of the physiological binding partner capicua (CIC) demonstrates the importance of ATXN1 native interactions for correct B cell functioning. Altogether, we report a immunomodulatory role for ataxin-1 and provide a functional description of the ATXN1 locus genetic association with MS risk.

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