Tuesday hosted the session most closely related to my current focus of HD research – huntingtin structural biology and structural insights into HD pathology.
Frederic Sandou presented some very interesting data from his EMBO publication regarding huntingtin proteolysis in cells. The C-terminal fragments generated by cutting huntingtin appear to be toxic to cells and this seems to be linked to its interaction with dynamin, a protein involved in transport processes within the cell.
Ihn Sik Seong’s presentation included a comprehensive analysis of huntingtin structure by a variety of different methodologies including electron microscopy (EM), cross-linking with mass spectrometry and circular dichroism. Some fairly low-ish resolution EM models how a hollow structure whilst other data indicates a definite interaction between the 2 ends of the protein. We are still a way off understanding the structure at high resolution though. HDBuzz took a great picture of the EM:
The afternoon session of talks gave some great insights into huntingtin gene and genome research. In particular Ray Truant gave a very interesting talk of unpublished data regarding kinetin, a small molecule a bit like the constituent components of DNA (nucleotides), which has potential therapeutic opportunities in treating HD. It will be interesting to see how this work develops over the next year.