Mutant huntingtin is secreted via a late endosomal/lysosomal unconventional secretory pathway

Katarina Trajkovic, Hyunkyung Jeong, Dimitri Krainc*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Huntington’s disease (HD) is an autosomal-dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by the expansion of a CAG triplet in the gene encoding for huntingtin (Htt). The resulting mutant protein (mHtt) with extended polyglutamine (polyQ) sequence at the N terminus leads to neuronal degeneration both in a cell-autonomous and a non-cell-autonomous manner. Recent studies identified mHtt in the extracellular environment and suggested that its spreading contributes to toxicity, but the mechanism of mHtt release from the cell of origin remains unknown. In this study, we performed a comprehensive, unbiased analysis of secretory pathways and identified an unconventional lysosomal pathway as an important mechanism for mHtt secretion in mouse neuroblastoma and striatal cell lines, as well as in primary neurons. mHtt secretion was dependent on synaptotagmin 7, a regulator of lysosomal secretion, and inhibited by chemical ablation of late endosomes/lysosomes, suggesting a lysosomal secretory pattern. mHtt was targeted preferentially to the late endosomes/ lysosomes compared with wild-type Htt. Importantly, we found that late endosomal/lysosomal targeting and secretion of mHtt could be inhibited efficiently by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and neutral sphingomyelinase chemical inhibitors, Ly294002 and GW4869, respectively. Together, our data suggest a lysosomal mechanism of mHtt secretion and offer potential strategies for pharmacological modulation of its neuronal secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9000-9012
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number37
StatePublished - 2017


  • Huntington’s disease
  • Late endosome
  • Lysosome
  • Mutant huntingtin
  • Secretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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