The role of huntingtin interacting proteins (HIPs) in the pathogenesis of Huntington's disease

Huntington disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes uncontrollable movements, impairment in memory and reasoning ability, and alterations in personality. Patients with the disease carry a mutation in the HD gene, which results in an expanded tract of glutamine (an amino acid). The gene product is therefore a mutated form of the HD protein. This expanded tract disrupts the interaction between the HD protein and other proteins that work together to perform essential cell functions. A modified interaction may alter the normal function of any of the interacting proteins, making specific cells vulnerable to premature death. Anat Yanai is studying the cell biology of several HD interacting proteins, including the way they interact with proteins involved in cellular metabolism and the alterations in their normal function as a result of the mutation in the HD gene. The findings will assist in developing therapeutic strategies for Huntington patients, such as inhibitors or activators of these interactions.