Combinatorial treatment increases IKAP levels in human cells generated from Familial Dysautonomia patients

Sivan Yannai, Jonathan Zonszain, Maya Donyo, Gil Ast*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Familial Dysautonomia (FD) is an autosomal recessive congenital neuropathy that results from a point mutation at the 5’ splice site of intron 20 in the IKBKAP gene. This mutation decreases production of the IKAP protein, and treatments that increase the level of the full-length IKBKAP transcript are likely to be of therapeutic value. We previously found that phosphatidylserine (PS), an FDA-approved food supplement, elevates IKAP levels in cells generated from FD patients. Here we demonstrate that combined treatment of cells generated from FD patients with PS and kinetin or PS and the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) resulted in an additive elevation of IKAP compared to each drug alone. This indicates that the compounds influence different pathways. We also found that pridopidine enhances production of IKAP in cells generated from FD patients. Pridopidine has an additive effect on IKAP levels when used in combination with kinetin or TSA, but not with PS; suggesting that PS and pridopidine influence IKBKAP levels through the same mechanism. Indeed, we demonstrate that the effect of PS and pridopidine is through sigma-1 receptor-mediated activation of the BDNF signaling pathway. A combination treatment with any of these drugs with different mechanisms has potential to benefit FD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0211602
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


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