Spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6) is dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disease, caused by an expansion of CAG repeat encoding a polyglutamine (PolyQ) tract in the Cav2.1 voltage-gated calcium channel. Its key pathological features include selective degeneration of the cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs), acommon target for PolyQ-induced toxicity in various SCAs. Mutant Cav2.1 confers toxicity primarily through a toxic gain-of-function mechanism; however, its molecular basis remains elusive. Here,we studied the cerebellar gene expression patterns of young Sca6-MPI118Q/118Q knockin (KI) mice, which expressed mutant Cav2.1 from an endogenous locus and recapitulated many phenotypic features of human SCA6. Transcriptional signatures in the MPI118Q/118Q mice were distinct from those in the Sca1154Q/2Q mice, a faithful SCA1 KI mouse model. Temporal expression profiles of the candidate genes revealed that the up-regulation of genes associated with microglial activation was initiated before PC degeneration and was augmented as the disease progressed. Histological analysis of the MPI118Q/118Q cerebellum showed the predominance of M1-like pro-inflammatory microglia and it was concomitant with elevated expression levels of tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-6, Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2 and 7. Genetic ablation of MyD88, a major adaptor protein conveying TLR signaling, altered expression patterns of M1/M2 microglial phenotypic markers in the MPI118Q/118Q cerebellum. More importantly, it ameliorated PC loss and partially rescued motor impairments in the early disease phase. These results suggest that early neuroinflammatory response may play an important role in the pathogenesis of SCA6 and its modulation could pave the way for slowing the disease progression during the early stage of the disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology