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WDR45 contributes to neurodegeneration through regulation of ER homeostasis and neuronal death

By Huida Wan, Qi Wang, Xiuting Chen, Qiufang Zeng, Yanjiao Shao, Houqin Fang, Xun Liao, Husong Li, Minggang Liu, Tian-Le Xu, Dali Li, Minyao Liu, Bo Meng, Bin Tang, Zhuohua Zhang, Lujian Liao

Posted 14 Mar 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/282210 (published DOI: 10.1080/15548627.2019.1630224)

Mutations in the autophagy gene WDR45 cause β-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration (BPAN); however the molecular and cellular mechanism of the disease process is largely unknown. Here we generated constitutive Wdr45 knockout (KO) mice that displayed cognitive impairments, abnormal synaptic transmission and lesions in hippocampus and basal ganglia. Immunohistochemistry analysis shows loss of neurons in prefrontal cortex and basal ganglion in aged mice, and increased apoptosis in these regions, recapitulating a hallmark of neurodegeneration. Quantitative proteomic analysis shows accumulation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) proteins in KO mouse. Furthermore, we show that a defect in autophagy results in impaired ER turnover and ER stress. The unfolded protein response (UPR) is elevated through IRE1α and possibly other kinase signaling pathways, and eventually leads to neuronal apoptosis. Suppression of ER stress, or activation of autophagy through inhibition of mTOR pathway rescues neuronal death. Thus, our study not only provides mechanistic insights for BPAN, but also suggests that a defect in macroautophagy machinery leads to impairment in selective organelle autophagy.

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