1: J Mol Biol. 2008 Aug 27. [Epub ahead of print]


Friedreich's Ataxia GAA.TTC Duplex and GAA.GAA.TTC Triplex Structures Exclude Nucleosome Assembly.

Ruan H, Wang YH.

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 185 South Orange Avenue, Newark, NJ 07101-1709, USA.

Both chromatin structure and formation of triplex DNA at expanded GAA TTC repeats have been shown to regulate the FXN gene silencing, which causes Friedreich's ataxia. Recent studies have suggested that the presence of heterochromatin at the long expanded GAA TTC repeats, which is enriched in hypoacetylated histones, deters the transcription of the FXN gene. However, neither direct histone binding nor the effect of histone acetylation on the GAA TTC duplex or the GAA GAA TTC triplex has been measured in vitro. In this study, GAA TTC repeating DNAs derived from the human FXN gene, and the GAA GAA TTC triplex, were examined for their ability to assemble single nucleosomes and nucleosome arrays. Competitive nucleosome reconstitution assays demonstrated that the GAA TTC duplex excludes nucleosomes (53% decrease compared to the pUC control DNA) and that the GAA GAA TTC triplex further lowers the nucleosome assembly efficiency (82% decrease compared to the duplex DNA). The difference in assembly efficiency is amplified more significantly when hypoacetylated histones are used, compared to assembly with hyperacetylated histones. By analyzing the formation of nucleosome arrays on GAA TTC-containing plasmids, the triplex structure was shown to destabilize the ability of adjacent sequences to assemble nucleosomes. These results provide the first direct binding measurements for the GAA TTC duplex and the GAA GAA TTC triplex, and on the effect of histone acetylation, towards dissecting the role of chromatin structure in silencing of the FXN gene. These findings suggest that these sequences could profoundly alter local chromatin structure, and the discrepancy between in vivo and in vitro results supports recent studies showing that, in addition to DNA sequences, other factors such as epigenetic marks could be involved in the mechanism for inhibition of FXN gene expression.

PMID: 18775729 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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Research projects currently being financed by BabelFAmily

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1) Gene Therapy for Friedreich's Ataxia research project:

The project is the result of an initiative of Spanish people affected by this rare disease who are grouped in GENEFA in collaboration with the Spanish Federation of Ataxias and the BabelFAmily. The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), one of the main patients’ associations in the United States now joins the endeavour.

2) Frataxin delivery research project:
The associations of patients and families Babel Family and the Asociación Granadina de la Ataxia de Friedreich (ASOGAF) channel 80,000 euros of their donations (50% from each organisation) into a new 18-month project at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). The project specifically aims to complete a step necessary in order to move towards a future frataxin replacement therapy for the brain, where the reduction of this protein causes the most damage in patients with Friedreich’s Ataxia.

The study is headed by Ernest Giralt, head of the Peptides and Proteins Lab, who has many years of experience and is a recognised expert in peptide chemistry and new systems of through which to delivery drugs to the brain, such as peptide shuttles—molecules that have the capacity to carry the drug across the barrier that surrounds and protects the brain. Since the lab started its relation with these patients’ associations in 2013*, it has been developing another two projects into Friedrich’s Ataxia.



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