Protein aggregates are a common pathological feature of neurodegenerative diseases and several lysosomal diseases, but it is currently unclear what aggregates represent for pathogenesis. Here we report the accumulation of intraneuronal aggregates containing the macroautophagy adapter proteins p62 and NBR1 in the neurodegenerative lysosomal disease late-infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (CLN2 disease). CLN2 disease is caused by a deficiency in the lysosomal enzyme tripeptidyl peptidase I, which results in aberrant lysosomal storage of catabolites, including the subunit c of mitochondrial ATP synthase (SCMAS). In an effort to define the role of aggregates in CLN2, we evaluated p62 and NBR1 accumulation in the CNS of Cln2-/- mice. Although increases in p62 and NBR1 often suggest compromised degradative mechanisms, we found normal ubiquitin-proteasome system function and only modest inefficiency in macroautophagy late in disease. Importantly, we identified that SCMAS colocalizes with p62 in extra-lysosomal aggregates in Cln2-/- neurons in vivo. This finding is consistent with SCMAS being released from lysosomes, an event known as lysosomal membrane permeability (LMP). We predicted that LMP and storage release from lysosomes results in the sequestration of this material as cytosolic aggregates by p62 and NBR1. Notably, LMP induction in primary neuronal cultures generates p62-positive aggregates and promotes p62 localization to lysosomal membranes, supporting our in vivo findings. We conclude that LMP is a previously unrecognized pathogenic event in CLN2 disease that stimulates cytosolic aggregate formation. Furthermore, we offer a novel role for p62 in response to LMP that may be relevant for other diseases exhibiting p62 accumulation.
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