USP7, a ubiquitin-specific protease, interacts with ataxin-1, the SCA1 gene product.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is an autosomal-dominant neurodegenerative disorder characterized by ataxia and progressive motor deterioration. SCA1 has been known to associate with elongated polyglutamine tract in ataxin-1, the SCA1 gene product. Using the yeast two-hybrid system, we have found that USP7, a ubiquitin-specific protease, binds to ataxin-1. Further experiments with deletion mutants indicated that the C-terminal region of ataxin-1 was essential for the interaction. Liquid beta-galactosidase assay and coimmunoprecipitation experiments revealed that the strength of the interaction between USP7 and ataxin-1 is influenced by the length of the polyglutamine tract in the ataxin-1; weaker interaction was observed in mutant ataxin-1 with longer polyglutamine tract and USP7 was not recruited to the mutant ataxin-1 aggregates in the Purkinje cells of SCA1 transgenic mice. Our results suggest that altered function of the ubiquitin system can be involved in the pathogenesis of spinocerebellar ataxia type 1.