Huntington’s disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the exon-1 of the huntingtin (htt) gene. The presence of mutant htt (mhtt) results in multiple physiopathological changes, including protein aggregation, transcriptional deregulation, decreased trophic support, alteration in signaling pathways and excitotoxicity. Indeed, the presence of mhtt induces changes in the activities/levels of different kinases, phosphatases and transcription factors that can impact on cell survival. Many studies have provided evidence that transcription may be a major target of mhtt, as gene dysregulation occurs before the onset of symptoms. The greatest number of downregulated genes in HD has led to test the ability of a large number of compounds to restore gene transcription in mouse models of HD. On the other hand, mhtt engenders multiple cellular dysfunctions including an increase of pathological glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity. For that reason, targeting the excess of glutamate has been the goal for many promising drugs leading to clinical trials. Although advances in developing effective therapies are evident, currently, there is no known cure for HD and existing symptomatic treatments are limited.
Part of the book: Huntington's Disease