Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses represent the most common childhood neurodegenerative storage disorders. Infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (INCL) is caused by palmitoyl protein thioesterase-1 (PPT1) deficiency. Although INCL patients show signs of abnormal neurotransmission, manifested by myoclonus and seizures, the molecular mechanisms by which PPT1 deficiency causes this abnormality remain obscure. Neurotransmission relies on repeated cycles of exo- and endocytosis of the synaptic vesicles (SVs), in which several palmitoylated proteins play critical roles. These proteins facilitate membrane fusion, which is required for neurotransmitter exocytosis, recycling of the fused SV membrane components, and regeneration of fresh vesicles. However, palmitoylated proteins require depalmitoylation for recycling. Using postmortem brain tissues from an INCL patient and tissue from the PPT1-knockout (PPT1-KO) mice that mimic INCL, we report here that PPT1 deficiency caused persistent membrane anchorage of the palmitoylated SV proteins, which hindered the recycling of the vesicle components that normally fuse with the presynaptic plasma membrane during SV exocytosis. Thus, the regeneration of fresh SVs, essential for maintaining the SV pool size at the synapses, was impaired, leading to a progressive loss of readily releasable SVs and abnormal neurotransmission. This abnormality may contribute to INCL neuropathology.
Sung-Jo Kim, Zhongjian Zhang, Chinmoy Sarkar, Pei-Chih Tsai, Yi-Ching Lee, Louis Dye, Anil B. Mukherjee