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Biochemical Characterization of the GBA2 c.1780G>C Missense Mutation in Lymphoblastoid Cells from Patients with Spastic Ataxia

The GBA2 gene encodes the non-lysosomal glucosylceramidase (NLGase), an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of glucosylceramide (GlcCer) to ceramide and glucose. Mutations in GBA2 have been associated with the development of neurological disorders such as autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia, hereditary spastic paraplegia, and Marinesco-Sjogren-Like Syndrome. Our group has previously identified the GBA2 c.1780G>C [p.Asp594His] missense mutation, in a Cypriot consanguineous family with spastic ataxia. In this study, we carried out a biochemical characterization of lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) derived from three patients of this family. We found that the mutation strongly reduce NLGase activity both intracellularly and at the plasma membrane level. Additionally, we observed a two-fold increase of GlcCer content in LCLs derived from patients compared to controls, with the C16 lipid being the most abundant GlcCer species. Moreover, we showed that there is an apparent compensatory effect between NLGase and the lysosomal glucosylceramidase (GCase), since we found that the activity of GCase was three-fold higher in LCLs derived from patients compared to controls. We conclude that the c.1780G>C mutation results in NLGase loss of function with abolishment of the enzymatic activity and accumulation of GlcCer accompanied by a compensatory increase in GCase.

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