Researchers uncover mechanism for congenital problems of glycosylation

Greenwood Genetic Middle (GGC) researchers are reporting the invention of a mechanism that contributes to the tissue phenotypes seen in PMM2-CDG, the commonest of the congenital problems of glycosylation (CDGs).

CDGs are a gaggle of over 130 uncommon genetic problems attributable to defects within the glycosylation of lipids and proteins. The phenotypes are variable, however typically influence a number of physique techniques and contain neurological options. Sufferers with PMM2-CDG sometimes show hypotonia, developmental delay and mental incapacity, progress delays, motion abnormalities, and skeletal anomalies.

Utilizing a zebrafish mannequin of PMM2-CDG, GGC’s Heather Flanagan-Steet, PhD, and her workforce of collaborators discovered that defects within the processing of N-cadherin, a protein that helps management cell adhesion, are liable for the craniofacial and motility abnormalities seen in PMM2-CDG.

Half of all proteins within the human physique are glycosylated, so it is rather tough to mechanistically probe this heterogeneous group of problems. Discovering the hypoglycosylated protein liable for this CDG phenotype is like discovering the needle within the haystack, however our novel strategy to this dysfunction allowed us to not solely determine this offender, but in addition take a look at therapeutic interventions.”

Heather Flanagan-Steet, Director of Practical Research, Greenwood Genetic Middle

The place most prior research in CDGs have concerned the analytical chemistry strategy of figuring out glycosylated proteins first adopted by interrogating them for a attainable connection to the problems, Flanagan-Steet stated that their ‘top-down strategy’ of making a zebrafish mannequin is what accelerated the invention.

“We studied the phenotype within the PMM2-CDG zebrafish fashions and let the biology inform us the place to go,” she stated. “The biology of the phenotype recommended attainable pathways that is perhaps disrupted which is what led us to N-cadherin.”

N-cadherin processing permits for the adhesive properties of cells to fluctuate all through regular improvement. When that course of is disrupted, typically via the altered expression of a number of proteases that management N-cadherin processing, the PMM2-CDG phenotype emerges. Within the fish, that meant cartilage defects that led to craniofacial abnormalities and aberrant motility seen via altered swimming behaviors.

The researchers additionally discovered that by inhibiting furin proconvertases, one class of proteases that catalyze N-cadherin processing, a number of mobile and molecular phenotypes, together with the cartilage and craniofacial defects within the zebrafish, may very well be rescued.

“By inhibiting the furin, we have been in a position to enhance the cartilage phenotype in over half of the fish studied suggesting that modifications within the exercise of those proconvertases provoke a cascade of occasions that results in the skeletal illness in PMM2-CGG,” stated Flanagan-Steet. “This thrilling end result suggests attainable nodes of therapeutic intervention for future research, and most significantly offers hope for households around the globe who’ve been impacted by this uncommon illness.”

“Any such discovery represents one of many vital subsequent phases in CDG analysis – unraveling the elusive pathogenesis of those problems by discovering the proteins within the cell which can be impacted by irregular glycosylation,” stated Richard Steet, PhD, GGC’s Director of Analysis. “We’re additionally increasing our efforts to determine genetic modifiers of CDGs with our colleagues on the Clemson Middle for Human Genetics (CHG). It will present yet one more promising avenue to therapies”.

This work is revealed by JCI Perception with collaborators from the College of Georgia, Sanford Kids’s Well being Analysis Middle, UT Southwestern Medical Middle, and the Medical College of South Carolina.

Funding from the Nationwide Institutes of Well being, Nationwide Most cancers Institute, and The Rocket Fund supported the analysis. Dr. Flanagan-Steet’s CDG analysis program can also be supported by the NIH COBRE grant between the Greenwood Genetic Middle and the Clemson Middle for Human Genetics.


Journal reference:

Klaver, E.J., et al. (2021) Protease-dependent defects in N-cadherin processing drive PMM2-CDG pathogenesis. JCI Perception.

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