Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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Rescue of Progranulin Deficiency Associated with Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration by Alkalizing Reagents and Inhibition of Vacuolar ATPase

J Neurosci. 2011 Feb 2;31(5):1885-1894.

Authors/Editors: Capell A
Liebscher S
Fellerer K
Brouwers N
Willem M
Lammich S
Gijselinck I
Bittner T
Carlson AM
Sasse F
Kunze B
Steinmetz H
Jansen R
Dormann D
Sleegers K
Cruts M
Herms J
Van Broeckhoven C
Haass C.
Publication Date: 2011
Type of Publication: Journal Article


Numerous loss-of-function mutations in the progranulin (GRN) gene cause frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin and TAR-DNA binding protein 43-positive inclusions by reduced production and secretion of GRN. Consistent with the observation that GRN has neurotrophic properties, pharmacological stimulation of GRN production is a promising approach to rescue GRN haploinsufficiency and prevent disease progression. We therefore searched for compounds capable of selectively increasing GRN levels. Here, we demonstrate that four independent and highly selective inhibitors of vacuolar ATPase (bafilomycin A1, concanamycin A, archazolid B, and apicularen A) significantly elevate intracellular and secreted GRN. Furthermore, clinically used alkalizing drugs, including chloroquine, bepridil, and amiodarone, similarly stimulate GRN production. Elevation of GRN levels occurs via a translational mechanism independent of lysosomal degradation, autophagy, or endocytosis. Importantly, alkalizing reagents rescue GRN deficiency in organotypic cortical slice cultures from a mouse model for GRN deficiency and in primary cells derived from human patients with GRN loss-of-function mutations. Thus, alkalizing reagents, specifically those already used in humans for other applications, and vacuolar ATPase inhibitors may be therapeutically used to prevent GRN-dependent neurodegeneration.

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