Bondar VV, Adamski CJ, Onur TS, Tan Q, Wang L, Diaz-Garcia J, Park J, Orr HT, Botas J, Zoghbi HY. PAK1 regulates ATXN1 levels providing an opportunity to modify its toxicity in Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1. Hum Mol Genet. 2018 May 30. PMID: 29860311.
The abstract: "Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is caused by the expansion of a trinucleotide repeat that encodes a polyglutamine tract in ataxin-1 (ATXN1). The expanded polygultamine in ATXN1 increases the protein's stability and results in its accumulation and toxicity. Previous studies have demonstrated that decreasing ATXN1 levels ameliorates SCA1 phenotypes and pathology in mouse models. We rationalized that reducing ATXN1 levels through pharmacological inhibition of its modulators could provide a therapeutic avenue for SCA1. Here, through a forward genetic screen in Drosophila we identified, p21-activated kinase 3 (Pak3) as a modulator of ATXN1 levels. Loss-of-function of fly Pak3 and Pak1, whose mammalian homologs are Group I of PAKs, reduces ATXN1 levels, and accordingly, improves disease pathology in a Drosophila model of SCA1. Knockdown of PAK1 potently reduces ATXN1 levels in mammalian cells independent of the well-characterized S776 phosphorylation site (known to stabilize ATXN1) thus revealing a novel molecular pathway that regulates ATXN1 levels. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of PAKs decreases ATXN1 levels in a mouse model of SCA1. To explore the potential of using PAK inhibitors in combination therapy, we combined the pharmacological inhibition of PAK with MSK1, a previously identified modulator of ATXN1, and examined their effects on ATXN1 levels. We found that inhibition of both pathways results in an additive decrease in ATXN1 levels. Together, this study identifies PAK signaling as a distinct molecular pathway that regulates ATXN1 levels and presents a promising opportunity to pursue for developing potential therapeutics for SCA1."