Calmodulin Regulates Transglutaminase 2 Cross-Linking of Huntingtin

Gina M. Zainelli, Christopher A. Ross, Juan C. Troncoso, John K. Fitzgerald, Nancy A. Muma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Striatal and cortical intranuclear inclusions and cytoplasmic aggregates of mutant huntingtin are prominent neuropathological hallmarks of Huntington's disease (HD). We demonstrated previously that transglutaminase 2 cross-links mutant huntingtin in cells in culture and demonstrated the presence of transglutaminase-catalyzed cross-links in the HD cortex that colocalize with transglutaminase 2 and huntingtin. Because calmodulin regulates transglutaminase activity in erythrocytes, platelets, and the gizzard, we hypothesized that calmodulin increases cross-linking of huntingtin in the HD brain. We found that calmodulin colocalizes at the confocal level with transglutaminase 2 and with huntingtin in HD intranuclear inclusions. Calmodulin coimmunoprecipitates with transglutaminase 2 and huntingtin in cells transfected with myc-tagged N-terminal huntingtin fragments containing 148 polyglutamine repeats (htt-N63-148Q-myc) and transglutaminase 2 but not in cells transfected with myc-tagged N-terminal huntingtin fragments containing 18 polyglutamine repeats. Our previous studies demonstrated that transfection with both htt-N63-148Q-myc and transglutaminase 2 resulted in cross-linking of mutant huntingtin protein fragments and the formation of insoluble high-molecular-weight aggregates of huntingtin protein fragments. Transfection with transglutaminase 2 and htt-N63-148Q-myc followed by treatment of cells with N-(6-aminohexyl)-1-naphthalenesulfonamide, a calmodulin inhibitor, resulted in a decrease in cross-linked huntingtin. Inhibiting the interaction of calmodulin with transglutaminase and huntingtin protein could decrease cross-linking and diminish huntingtin aggregate formation in the HD brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1954-1961
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 25 2004


  • Calmodulin
  • Cross-linking
  • Huntington
  • Inclusion bodies
  • Protein aggregation
  • Transglutaminase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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