Polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases comprise Huntington's disease and several subtypes of spinocerebellar ataxia, including spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3). The genomic expansion of coding CAG trinucleotide sequence in disease genes leads to the production and accumulation of misfolded polyQ domain-containing disease proteins, which cause cellular dysfunction and neuronal death. As one of the principal cellular protein clearance pathways, the activity of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is tightly regulated to ensure efficient clearance of damaged and toxic proteins. Emerging evidence demonstrates that UPS plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of polyQ diseases. Ubiquitin (Ub) E3 ligases catalyze the transfer of a Ub tag to label proteins destined for proteasomal clearance. In this study, we identified an E3 ligase, pre-mRNA processing factor 19 (Prpf19/prp19), that modulates expanded ataxin-3 (ATXN3-polyQ), disease protein of SCA3, induced neurodegeneration in both mammalian and Drosophila disease models. We further showed that Prpf19/prp19 promotes poly-ubiquitination and degradation of mutant ATXN3-polyQ protein. Our data further demonstrated the nuclear localization of Prpf19/prp19 is essential for eliciting its modulatory function towards toxic ATXN3-polyQ protein. Intriguingly, we found that exocyst complex component 7 (Exoc7/exo70), a Prpf19/prp19 interacting partner, modulates expanded ATXN3-polyQ protein levels and toxicity in an opposite manner to Prpf19/prp19. Our data suggest that Exoc7/exo70 exerts its ATXN3-polyQ-modifying effect through regulating the E3 ligase function of Prpf19/prp19. In summary, this study allows us to better define the mechanistic role of Exoc7/exo70-regulated Prpf19/prp19-associated protein ubiquitination pathway in SCA3 pathogenesis.
Cell Death Dis