Date of Award

Fall 12-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Applied Biopsychology



Major Professor

LaHoste, Gerald

Second Advisor

Marsee, Monica

Third Advisor

Morgan, Leeroy

Fourth Advisor

Lamm, Connie

Fifth Advisor

Beaton, Elliott


Huntington’s disease (HD) is a heritable, neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor, cognitive, and psychiatric disturbances. The progressive disease is caused by an unstable CAG expansion within the gene that normally encodes for the huntingtin protein (Htt). The expanded mutant form of Htt (mHtt) is expressed ubiquitously throughout patients’ bodies; however, neuronal degeneration is prominent only in the corpus striatum and, to a lesser extent, the cortex. The Ras homolog Rhes is also preferentially localized to the striatum. The putative co-factor Rhes has been shown to act with mHtt to cause neuronal death. Simvastatin, a lipid lowering drug, and zoledronate, a nitrogen bisphosphonate, act on the mevalonate pathway, which gives both Rhes and its target cells, binding sites. The current study aimed to interrupt the mevalonate pathway and inactivate, via de-prenylation, Rhes in CD-1 mice exposed to 3-nitroproprionic acid, a neurotoxin that mimics HD mitochondrial dysfunction and striatal degeneration. Results suggest that drug treatment does not rescue motor impairments and may potentiate 3-NP damage. The persistent motor deficits are discussed in relation to possible Rhes de-prenylation.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.