In findings that advance scientists' understanding of a whole class of inherited disorders, a team from The Scripps Research Institute has shed light on a mechanism that enables a potential treatment for Gaucher's disease and other lysosomal storage diseases.
The findings were published in an advance, online edition of the journal Nature Chemical Biology on May 9, 2010.
"This study is likely to motivate clinical trials for the treatment of neuropathic lysosomal storage diseases, including Gaucher's disease, where the current standard of care, enzyme replacement therapy, is ineffective," said team leader Jeffery Kelly, who is chair of the Scripps Research Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Chemistry, and a member of the Skaggs Institute of Chemical Biology. "The research is especially promising because we enhanced the cellular folding and function of mutated lysosomal enzymes, whose deficient function is linked to lysosomal storage diseases, using two distinct categories of FDA-approved drugs that have been shown to be safe and effective for the treatment of high blood pressure and muscle spasms."
"We wanted to uncover general principles that could be applied to a variety of loss-of-function protein misfolding diseases," added Derrick Sek Tong Ong, a graduate student in the Scripps Research Kellogg School of Science and Technology who was first author of the paper. "This study reveals how we can enhance the capacity of the cellular machinery to fold and traffic a mutant enzyme, so that the protein can function better."
In the new paper, the team revealed how the widely available prescription drugs diltiazem, verapamil, and in some cases dantrolene, acted on cells from patients with Gaucher's disease, increasing calcium levels in a subcellular compartment called the endoplasmic reticulum—a convoluted membranous sac within the cell where the folding of many proteins takes place.
A Genetic Disease
Gaucher's disease is the most common genetic disease among the Ashkenazi Jewish population of Eastern European ancestry. Symptoms include bruising easily due to low blood platelets, enlargement of the liver and spleen, and fatigue due to anemia. The disease also causes cells in the bone marrow to become engorged with a fatty storage material, which may lead to bone lesions, weakening the skeleton, sometimes resulting in painful fractures. In some instances, the disease also impairs the function of the lungs or the central nervous system.
Gaucher's disease (named after the French dermatologist Phillipe Gaucher, who first described the condition in 1882) is caused by mutations in a person's beta-glucosidase genes, and these defects corrupt his or her beta-glucosidase enzyme. Some of these corrupted enzymes cannot fold properly into their correct three-dimensional structure because they are unstable in the neutral pH environment of the endoplasmic reticulum. The corrupted, mutant enzymes are often degraded by a process known as endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation, and fail to reach their destination—another subcellular compartment called the lysosome, where they normally break down a fatty substance called glucosylceramides. When the beta-glucosidase concentration and/or enzymatic activity in the lysosome are too low, glucosylceramides accumulate, causing the symptoms of Gaucher's disease.
The current approaches for treating Gaucher's disease (and a few of the 40 or so other lysosomal storage disorders) involve replacing the deficient enzyme with an enzyme that is made using recombinant engineering and then is injected into the patient. Enzyme replacement therapy is an effective way to restore many patients to good health, but it has drawbacks. The enzyme has to be infused intravenously or through a surgically implanted catheter—usually in a doctor's office—a process that takes several hours and must be repeated every one or two weeks. Enzyme replacement therapy is also expensive, costing between $100,000 and $750,000 per year per patient. And this therapy is not effective at treating neurological complications of lysosomal storage diseases because injected enzymes cannot enter the brain.
However, a series of papers from the Kelly lab has shown that several other treatment approaches hold promise.
The Promise of a New Treatment Approach
In a paper published in PLoS Biology in 2008, the lab found that the prescription drugs diltiazem and verapamil were effective in restoring partial cellular folding, trafficking, and function to mutant enzymes responsible for three lysosomal storage disorders, including Gaucher's disease.
The scientists suspected that the drugs enhanced the interaction between the mutant lysosomal enzyme and the machinery of the cell that folds proteins, the so-called "chaperones" (helper proteins). Enhanced chaperone function, the scientists believed, might enhance the extent of mutant enzyme folding in the endoplasmic reticulum, allowing more of the mutant enzymes to engage the trafficking pathway that transports them to the lysosome. Even though the mutant enzymes are not completely normal, they exhibit sufficient function (greater than 10 percent) to improve the lysosomal storage phenomenon that causes these maladies.
But to make a more persuasive case for expensive clinical trials, the scientists wanted to understand the mechanism(s) by which the drugs were altering the cellular chaperones. The new study helps answer this question.
Using biochemical, pharmacologic, and siRNA techniques, the scientists examined the hypothesis that these drugs increased calcium levels in the endoplasmic reticulum post-translationally enhancing the calcium-regulated chaperones.
"We interrogated the importance of two calcium efflux channels and one pump (SERCA) on endoplasmic reticulum calcium levels," said Ong. "We found that one of the calcium efflux channels was sufficient to increase calcium levels—the ryanodine receptor."
These drugs appear to enhance the function of a chaperone called calnexin, which is expected to aid the folding of most lysosomal enzymes because of their common biochemistry (post-translational modification–N-linked glycosylation).
While Ong is hopeful that the drugs will be effective for treating Gaucher's disease and other lysosomal storage disorders, he also cautions that many steps still need to be taken before such treatment is approved for use in patients.
"We are always cautious because what works in patient-derived cells does not always work in humans," he said.
In addition to Kelly and Ong, authors of the paper "Endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ increases enhance mutant glucocerebrosidase proteostasis" are Ting-Wei Mu of Scripps Research and Amy E. Palmer of the University of Colorado, Boulder.
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, and the Lita Annenberg Hazen Foundation.
About The Scripps Research Institute
The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations, at the forefront of basic biomedical science that seeks to comprehend the most fundamental processes of life. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases, and synthetic vaccine development. Established in its current configuration in 1961, it employs approximately 3,000 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, scientific and other technicians, doctoral degree graduate students, and administrative and technical support personnel. Scripps Research is headquartered in La Jolla, California. It also includes Scripps Florida, whose researchers focus on basic biomedical science, drug discovery, and technology development. Scripps Florida is located in Jupiter, Florida.
Keith McKeown | EurekAlert!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy