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Frataxin deficiency in Friedreich's ataxia is associated with reduced levels of HAX-1, a regulator of cardiomyocyte death and survival

A microarray analysis performed on FRDA patient's lymphoblastoid cells stably reconstituted with frataxin, indicated HS-1-associated protein X-1 (HAX-1) as the most significantly upregulated transcript (FC=+2, P<0.0006). quantitative Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (qRT-PCR) and western blot analysis performed on (I) HEK293 stably transfected with empty vector compared to wild-type frataxin and (II) lymphoblasts from FRDA patients show that low frataxin mRNA and protein expression correspond to reduced levels of HAX-1. Frataxin overexpression and silencing were also performed in the AC16 human cardiomyocyte cell line. HAX-1 protein levels are indeed regulated through frataxin modulation. Moreover, correlation between frataxin and HAX-1 was further evaluated in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from FRDA patients and from non-related healthy controls. A regression model for frataxin which included HAX-1, group membership and group* HAX-1 interaction revealed that frataxin and HAX-1 are associated both at mRNA and protein levels. Additionally, a linked expression of FXN, HAX-1 and antioxidant defense proteins MnSOD and Nrf2 was observed both in PBMCs and AC16 cardiomyocytes. This study suggests that HAX-1 could be considered as a potential biomarker of cardiac disease in FRDA and the evaluation of its expression might provide insights into its pathogenesis as well as improving risk stratification strategies.

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