Inhibition of tryptophan hydroxylase activity and decreased 5-HT1A receptor binding in a mouse model of Huntington's disease

George J. Yohrling IV, George C.T. Jiang, Molly M. DeJohn, Daniel J. Robertson, Kent E. Vrana, Jang Ho J. Cha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The pathogenic mechanisms of the mutant huntingtin protein that cause Huntington's disease (HD) are unknown. Previous studies have reported significant decreases in the levels of serotonin (5-HT) and its metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) in the brains of the R6/2 transgenic mouse model of HD. In an attempt to elucidate the cause of these neurochemical perturbations in HD, the protein levels and enzymatic activity of tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH), the rate-limiting enzyme in 5-HT biosynthesis, were determined. Enzyme activity was measured in brainstem homogenates from 4-, 8-, and 12-week-old R6/2 mice and compared with aged-matched wild-type control mice. We observed a 62% decrease in brainstem TPH activity (p = 0.009) in 4-week-old R6/2 mice, well before the onset of behavioral symptoms. In addition, significant decreases in TPH activity were also observed at 8 and 12 weeks of age (61%, p = 0.02 and 86%, p = 0.005, respectively). In the 12-week-old-mice, no change in immunoreactive TPH was observed. In vitro binding showed that TPH does not bind to exon 1 of huntingtin in a polyglutamine-dependent manner. Specifically, glutathione-S-transferase huntingtin exon 1 proteins with 20, 32 or 53 polyglutamines did not interact with radiolabeled tryptophan hydroxylase. Therefore, the inhibition of TPH activity does not appear to result from a direct huntingtin/TPH interaction. Receptor binding analyses for the 5-HT1A receptor in 12-week-old R6/2 mice revealed significant reductions in 8-OH-[3H]DPAT binding in several hippocampal and cortical regions. These results demonstrate that the serotonergic system in the R6/2 mice is severely disrupted in both presymptomatic and symptomatic mice. The presymptomatic inhibition of TPH activity in the R6/2 mice may help explain the functional consequences of HD and provide insights into new targets for pharmacotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1416-1423
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Inhibition of tryptophan hydroxylase activity and decreased 5-HT1A receptor binding in a mouse model of Huntington's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this