The neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses comprise a group of inherited severe neurodegenerative lysosomal disorders characterized by lysosomal dysfunction and massive accumulation of fluorescent lipopigments and aggregated proteins. To examine the role of lipids in neurodegenerative processes of these diseases, we analysed phospho- and glycolipids in the brains of ctsd-/- and nclf mice, disease models of cathepsin D and CLN6 deficiency, respectively. Both ctsd-/- and nclf mice exhibited increased levels of GM2 and GM3 gangliosides. Immunohistochemically GM2 and GM3 staining was found preferentially in neurons and glial cells, respectively, of ctsd-/- mice. Of particular note, a 20-fold elevation of the unusual lysophospholipid bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate was specifically detected in the brain of ctsd-/- mice accompanied with sporadic accumulation of unesterified cholesterol in distinct cells. The impaired processing of the sphingolipid activator protein precursor, an in vitro cathepsin D substrate, in the brain of ctsd-/- mice may provide the mechanistic link to the storage of lipids. These studies show for the first time that cathepsin D regulates the lysosomal phospho- and glycosphingolipid metabolism suggesting that defects in the composition, trafficking and/or recycling of membrane components along the late endocytic pathway may be critical for the pathogenesis of early onset neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses.
- Cathepsin D
- GM2 ganglioside
- Mouse brain
- Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience