Prof. E.A.J. Reits PhD


Prof. E.A.J. Reits PhD

Assistant Professor, Full Professor
Main activities
Education, Research, Other
Ubiquitin-Proteasome System, Huntington's Disease, head core facility Cellular Imaging
Focus of research

Huntington’s disease (HD) is hallmarked by the accumulation and aggregation of mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT) fragments. Our goal is to improve recognition and degradation of mHTT by the ubiquitin-proteasome system.

An increasing number of neurodegenerative disorders is characterized by the accumulation and aggregation of particular proteins. Here, aggregates are often formed by proteolytic fragments and not by full-length proteins, as is the case with Huntington's and Alzheimer's disease. This suggests that they share a common mechanism in the cellular inability to remove certain peptides which start forming toxic oligomeric structures that may kill the cell unless stored into protective aggresomes. Peptidases may play a crucial role in the cellular attempt to degrade the monomeric fragments once released from the original proteins, and may even play in concert with heat shock proteins to dismantle oligomeric structures into fragments that can subsequently be degraded.

Key publications
  • Juenemann Katrin, Jansen Anne H. P., van Riel Luigi, Merkx Remco, Mulder Monique P. C., An Heeseon, Statsyuk Alexander, Kirstein Janine, Ovaa Huib, Reits Eric A. Dynamic recruitment of ubiquitin to mutant huntingtin inclusion bodies Scientific reports 2018;8 (1):1405 [PubMed]
  • Jansen Anne H. P., van Hal Maurik, Op den Kelder Ilse C., Meier Romy T., de Ruiter Anna-Aster, Schut Menno H., Smith Donna L., Grit Corien, Brouwer Nieske, Kamphuis Willem, Boddeke H. W. G. M., den Dunnen Wilfred F. A., van Roon Willeke M. C., Bates Gillian P., Hol Elly M., Reits Eric A. Frequency of nuclear mutant huntingtin inclusion formation in neurons and glia is cell-type-specific Glia 2017;65 (1):50-61 [PubMed]
  • Wiemhoefer Anne, Stargardt Anita, van der Linden Wouter A., Renner Maria C., van Kesteren Ronald E., Stap Jan, Raspe Marcel A., Tomkinson Birgitta, Kessels Helmut W., Ovaa Huib, Overkleeft Herman S., Florea Bogdan, Reits Eric A. Tripeptidyl Peptidase II Mediates Levels of Nuclear Phosphorylated ERK1 and ERK2 Molecular & cellular proteomics 2015;14 (8):2177-2193 [PubMed]
  • Schipper-Krom Sabine, Juenemann Katrin, Jansen Anne H., Wiemhoefer Anne, van den Nieuwendijk Rianne, Smith Donna L., Hink Mark A., Bates Gillian P., Overkleeft Hermen, Ovaa Huib, Reits Eric Dynamic recruitment of active proteasomes into polyglutamine initiated inclusion bodies FEBS letters 2014;588 (1):151-159 [PubMed]
  • Juenemann Katrin, Schipper-Krom Sabine, Wiemhoefer Anne, Kloss Alexander, Sanz Sanz Alicia, Reits Eric A. J. Expanded Polyglutamine-containing N-terminal Huntingtin Fragments Are Entirely Degraded by Mammalian Proteasomes Journal of biological chemistry 2013;288 (38):27068-27084 [PubMed]
All Publications
Curriculum Vitae

2008 NWO VIDI personal grant to study and improve the clearance of polyQ fragments and aggregates

2004 NWO VENI personal research grant to study protein and peptide clearance

2000  Antonie van Leeuwenhoekprijs (award of the Netherlands Cancer Institute for a high-potential researcher)


Doctorate University:     University Leiden, cum laude         25-10-2001
Supervisor:                     Prof. Dr. Jacques J. Neefjes
Title of thesis:                 Dynamics of Antigen Processing in Living Cells





Research programmes


Huntington’s Disease (HD) is an dominant inherited neurodegenerative disorder with the combined symptoms of Alzheimer, Parkinson and ALS. HD is caused by a mutation in the gene encoding the huntington protein. Due to the expansion of the CAG repeat in the gene the encoded huntington protein had an extended repeat of glutamine amino acids (polyQ) in the protein. Due to the repeat expansion the mutant Htt protein (mHtt) aggregates in neuronal cells, leading to their dysfunction, with consequences for memory and movement and psychiatric problems. Following the first symptoms the patient will live on average 15-17 years.

Improving the degradation of these mHtt fragments prior to aggregation would be a therapeutic strategy for this devastating disease for which there is no cure.

The main protein degradation machinery in cells is the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System (UPS) which is present in both the cytoplasm and nucleus. It degrades both short-lived, misfolded proteins and long-lived proteins that are mainly targeted for degradation via ubiquitination. The role of the UPS in HD is however controversial since UPS impairment has been observed in various HD models, which could be due to sequestration of proteasomes into aggregates (inclusion bodies, IB) that are initiated by mHTT. In addition, proteasomes may even be unable to cleave within the polyglutamine (polyQ) expansion in mHTT that is caused by the CAG repeat expansion in the mutated gene. Proteasomes may become clogged by these fragments or release polyQ peptides when polyQ-expanded proteins are inefficiently degraded.

Our research group have addressed various research questions with relation to the UPS and its role in the degradation of mHtt.

N.N. van der Wel PhD

A.E. Bury PhD
S. Krom PhD
K.A. Sap PhD
M. Tohti PhD

J. Janzen MSc
A. Sanz Sanz

Current research funding
  • AMC
  • KWF Kankerbestrijding
  • Stichting AMC Foundation (Vrijgesteld)
  • Stichting Zeldzame Ziekten Fonds