University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
Cathepsin D Deficiency - Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration
Doctoral dissertation, November 2006.
Cathepsin D (CTSD) is a lysosomal protease, the deficiency of which is fatal and associated with neurodegeneration. CTSD knock-out mice, which die at the age of four weeks, show intestinal necrosis, loss of lymphoid cells and moderate pathological changes in the brain. An active-site mutation in the CTSD gene underlies a neurodegenerative disease in newborn sheep, characterized by brain atrophy without any changes to visceral tissues. The CTSD deficiences belong to the group of neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinoses (NCLs), severe neurodegenerative lysosomal storage disorders.
The aim of this thesis was to examine the molecular and cellular mechanisms behind neurodegeneration in CTSD deficiency. We found the developmental expression pattern of CTSD to resemble that of synaptophysin and the increasing expression of CTSD to coincide with the active period of myelination in the rat brain, suggesting a role for CTSD in early rat brain development. An active-site mutation underlying the congenital ovine NCL not only affected enzymatic activity, but also changed the stability, processing and transport of the mutant protein, possibly contributing to the disease pathogenesis. We also provide CTSD deficiency as a first molecular explanation for human congenital NCL, a lysosomal storage disorder, characterized by neuronal loss and demyelination in the central nervous system. Finally, we show the first evidence for synaptic abnormalities and thalamocortical changes in CTSD-deficient mice at the molecular and ultrastructural levels.
Keywords: cathepsin D, congenital, cortex, lysosomal storage disorder, lysosome, mutation, neurodegeneration, neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinosis, overexpression, synapse, thalamus
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Last updated 03.11.2006