A new homozygous HERC1 gain-of-function variant in MDFPMR syndrome leads to mTORC1 hyperactivation and reduced autophagy during cell catabolism

Jana Marie Schwarz, Leonardo Pedrazza, Werner Stenzel, Jose Luis Rosa, Markus Schuelke, Rachel Straussberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The giant 532 kDa HERC1 protein is a ubiquitin ligase that interacts with tuberous sclerosis complex subunit 2 (TSC2), a negative upstream regulator of the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). TSC2 regulates anabolic cell growth through its influence on protein synthesis, cell growth, proliferation, autophagy, and differentiation. TSC subunit 1 (TSC1) stabilizes TSC2 by inhibiting the interaction between TSC2 and HERC1, forming a TSC1-TSC2 complex that negatively regulates mTORC1. HERC1-TSC2 interaction destabilizes and degrades TSC2. Recessive mutations in HERC1 have been reported in patients with intellectual disability. Some patients exhibit epilepsy, macrocephaly, somatic overgrowth, and dysmorphic facial features as well. Here we describe two sisters from a consanguineous marriage with a novel homozygous missense variant in the C-terminal HECT domain of HERC1 [chr15:g63,907,989C>G GRCh37.p11 | c.14,072G>C NM_003922 | p.(Arg4,691Pro)]. Symptoms compris global developmental delay, macrocephaly, somatic overgrowth, intellectual disability, seizures, schizoaffective disorder, and pyramidal tract signs. We functionally assessed the HERC1 mutation by investigation of patient and control fibroblasts under normal and nutrient starving conditions. During catabolic state, mTORC1 activity remained high in patient fibroblasts, which stands in stark contrast to its downregulation in controls. This was corroborated by an abnormally high phosphorylation of S6K1-kinase, a direct downstream target of mTORC1, in patients. Moreover, autophagy, usually enhanced in catabolic states, was down-regulated in patient fibroblasts. These data confirm that the missense variant found in both patients results in a gain-of-function for the mutant HERC1 protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-134
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Volume131
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Autophagy
  • MDFPMR
  • mTORC1
  • Next generation sequencing
  • Seizures
  • Tuberous sclerosis complex
  • Ubiquitination

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