• ataxin-1 phosphorylation;
  • intranasal peptide delivery;
  • neurodegeneration;
  • PKA inhibitory peptide;
  • Purkinje cell;
  • spinocerebellar ataxia-1


Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Spinocerebellar ataxia-1 (SCA1) is a neurodegenerative disease that primarily targets Purkinje cells (PCs) of the cerebellum. The exact mechanism of PC degeneration is unknown, however, it is widely believed that mutant ataxin-1 becomes toxic because of the phosphorylation of its serine 776 (S776) residue by cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA). Therefore, to directly modulate mutant ATXN1 S776 phosphorylation and aggregation, we designed a therapeutic polypeptide to inhibit PKA. This polypeptide comprised of a thermally responsive elastin-like peptide (ELP) carrier, which increases peptide half-life, a PKA inhibitory peptide (PKI), and a cell-penetrating peptide (Synb1). We observed that our therapeutic polypeptide, Synb1-ELP-PKI, inhibited PKA activity at concentrations similar to the PKI peptide. Additionally, Synb1-ELP-PKI significantly suppressed mutant ATXN1 S776 phosphorylation and intranuclear inclusion formation in cell culture. Further, Synb1-ELP-PKI treatment improved SCA1 PC morphology in cerebellar slice cultures. Furthermore, the Synb1-ELP peptide carrier crossed the blood–brain barrier and localized to the cerebellum via the i.p. or intranasal route. Here, we show the intranasal delivery of ELP-based peptides to the brain as a novel delivery strategy. We also demonstrate that our therapeutic polypeptide has a great potential to target the neurotoxic S776 phosphorylation pathway in the SCA1 disease.

Protein kinase A (PKA) phosphorylates mutant ataxin-1 and makes it resistant to degradation. We designed a PKA inhibitory polypeptide. Our polypeptide comprised a thermally responsive elastin-like peptide (ELP) carrier, a PKA inhibitory peptide (PKI) and a cell-penetrating peptide (Synb1). Synb1-ELP-PKI, inhibited PKA activity in various in vitro models. The polypeptide crossed the blood–brain barrier when administered intraperitoneally or intranasally. We demonstrate that our polypeptide is a potential candidate for Spinocerebellar ataxia-1 (SCA1) therapy.