Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects motor neurons. Mutations in the SPTLC1 subunit of serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT), which catalyzes the first step in the de novo synthesis of sphingolipids (SLs), cause childhood-onset ALS. SPTLC1-ALS variants map to a transmembrane domain that interacts with ORMDL proteins, negative regulators of SPT activity. We show that ORMDL binding to the holoenzyme complex is impaired in cells expressing pathogenic SPTLC1-ALS alleles, resulting in increased SL synthesis and a distinct lipid signature. C-terminal SPTLC1 variants cause peripheral hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type 1 (HSAN1) due to the synthesis of 1-deoxysphingolipids (1-deoxySLs) that form when SPT metabolizes L-alanine instead of L-serine. Limiting L-serine availability in SPTLC1-ALS–expressing cells increased 1-deoxySL and shifted the SL profile from an ALS to an HSAN1-like signature. This effect was corroborated in an SPTLC1-ALS pedigree in which the index patient uniquely presented with an HSAN1 phenotype, increased 1-deoxySL levels, and an L-serine deficiency. These data demonstrate how pathogenic variants in different domains of SPTLC1 give rise to distinct clinical presentations that are nonetheless modifiable by substrate availability.
Museer A. Lone, Mari J. Aaltonen, Aliza Zidell, Helio F. Pedro, Jonas A. Morales Saute, Shalett Mathew, Payam Mohassel, Carsten G. Bönnemann, Eric A. Shoubridge, Thorsten Hornemann