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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Expanded ataxin-7 cause toxicity by inducing ROS production from NADPH oxidase complexes in a stable inducible Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7) model

Abiodun Ajayi, Xin Yu, Staffan Lindberg, Ülo Langel and Anna-Lena Ström*

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Department of Neurochemistry, Stockholm University, Svante Arrhenius väg 21A, SE-106 91, Stockholm, Sweden

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:86  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-86

Published: 24 July 2012



Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7) is one of nine inherited neurodegenerative disorders caused by polyglutamine (polyQ) expansions. Common mechanisms of disease pathogenesis suggested for polyQ disorders include aggregation of the polyQ protein and induction of oxidative stress. However, the exact mechanism(s) of toxicity is still unclear.


In this study we show that expression of polyQ expanded ATXN7 in a novel stable inducible cell model first results in a concomitant increase in ROS levels and aggregation of the disease protein and later cellular toxicity. The increase in ROS could be completely prevented by inhibition of NADPH oxidase (NOX) complexes suggesting that ATXN7 directly or indirectly causes oxidative stress by increasing superoxide anion production from these complexes. Moreover, we could observe that induction of mutant ATXN7 leads to a decrease in the levels of catalase, a key enzyme in detoxifying hydrogen peroxide produced from dismutation of superoxide anions. This could also contribute to the generation of oxidative stress. Most importantly, we found that treatment with a general anti-oxidant or inhibitors of NOX complexes reduced both the aggregation and toxicity of mutant ATXN7. In contrast, ATXN7 aggregation was aggravated by treatments promoting oxidative stress.


Our results demonstrates that oxidative stress contributes to ATXN7 aggregation as well as toxicity and show that anti-oxidants or NOX inhibition can ameliorate mutant ATXN7 toxicity.

Ataxin-7; NADPH oxidase complex; Neurodegeneration; Oxidative stress; Polyglutamine; SCA7