The role of mutations in the gene GBA1 encoding the lysosomal hydrolase β-glucocerebrosidase for the development of synucleinopathies, such as Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies, was only very recently uncovered. The knowledge obtained from the study of carriers or patients suffering from Gaucher disease (a common lysosomal storage disorder because of GBA1 mutations) is of particular importance for understanding the role of the enzyme and its catabolic pathway in the development of synucleinopathies. Decreased activity of β-glucocerebrosidase leads to lysosomal dysfunction and the accumulation of its substrate glucosylceramide and related lipid derivatives. Glucosylceramide is suggested to stabilize toxic oligomeric forms of α-synuclein that negatively influence the activity of β-glucocerebrosidase and to partially block export of newly synthesized β-glucocerebrosidase from the endoplasmic reticulum to late endocytic compartments, amplifying the pathological effects of α-synuclein and ultimately resulting in neuronal cell death. This pathogenic molecular feedback loop and most likely other factors (such as impaired endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation, activation of the unfolded protein response and dysregulation of calcium homeostasis induced by misfolded GC mutants) are involved in shifting the cellular homeostasis from monomeric α-synuclein towards oligomeric neurotoxic and aggregated forms, which contribute to Parkinson's disease progression. From a therapeutic point of view, strategies aiming to increase either the expression, stability or delivery of the β-glucocerebrosidase to lysosomes are likely to decrease the α-synuclein burden and may be useful for an in depth evaluation at the organismal level. (Figure presented.) Lysosomes are critical for protein and lipid homeostasis. Recent research revealed that dysfunction of this organelle contributes to the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease (PD). Mutations in the lysosomal hydrolase β-glucocerebrosidase (GBA1) are a major risk factor for the development of PD and the molecular events linked to the reduced activity of GBA1 and the pathological accumulation of lipids and α-synuclein are just at the beginning to be understood. New therapeutic concepts in regards to how to increase the expression, stability, or delivery of β-glucocerebrosidase to lysosomes are currently developed. This article is part of a special issue on Parkinson disease.
- Gaucher disease
- Parkinson's Disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience