Huntingtin Aggregation Impairs Autophagy, Leading to Argonaute-2 Accumulation and Global MicroRNA Dysregulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Many neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by the presence of intracellular protein aggregates, resulting in alterations in autophagy. However, the consequences of impaired autophagy for neuronal function remain poorly understood. In this study, we used cell culture and mouse models of huntingtin protein aggregation as well as post-mortem material from patients with Huntington's disease to demonstrate that Argonaute-2 (AGO2) accumulates in the presence of neuronal protein aggregates and that this is due to impaired autophagy. Accumulation of AGO2, a key factor of the RNA-induced silencing complex that executes microRNA functions, results in global alterations of microRNA levels and activity. Together, these results demonstrate that impaired autophagy found in neurodegenerative diseases not only influences protein aggregation but also directly contributes to global alterations of intracellular post-transcriptional networks. Pircs et al. report that aggregation of the mutant huntingtin protein, a hallmark of Huntington's disease proteinopathy, impairs macroautophagy, leading to Argonaute-2 accumulation and global dysregulation of microRNAs. These results indicate that autophagy not only influences protein aggregation but also directly contributes to the global alterations of post-transcriptional networks in Huntington's disease.


External organisations
  • University of Cambridge
  • Laval University
  • Lausanne University Hospital
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Neurosciences
  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • Argonaute-2, autophagy, Huntington's disease, microRNA, protein aggregation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1397-1406
Number of pages10
JournalCell Reports
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug
Publication categoryResearch