Drosophila melanogaster mutated in its GBA1b ortholog recapitulates neuronopathic Gaucher disease

Or Cabasso, Sumit Paul, Orly Dorot, Gali Maor, Olga Krivoruk, Metsada Pasmanik-Chor, Mina Mirzaian, Maria Ferraz, Johannes Aerts, Mia Horowitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gaucher disease (GD) results from mutations in the GBA1 gene, which encodes lysosomal glucocerebrosidase (GCase). The large number of mutations known to date in the gene lead to a heterogeneous disorder, which is divided into a non-neuronopathic, type 1 GD, and two neurological, type 2 and type 3, forms. We studied the two fly GBA1 orthologs, GBA1a and GBA1b. Each contains a Minos element insertion, which truncates its coding sequence. In the GBA1am/m flies, which express a mutant protein, missing 33 C-terminal amino acids, there was no decrease in GCase activity or substrate accumulation. However, GBA1bm/m mutant flies presented a significant decrease in GCase activity with concomitant substrate accumulation, which included C14:1 glucosylceramide and C14:0 glucosylsphingosine. GBA1bm/m mutant flies showed activation of the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) and presented inflammation and neuroinflammation that culminated in development of a neuronopathic disease. Treatment with ambroxol did not rescue GCase activity or reduce substrate accumulation; however, it ameliorated UPR, inflammation and neuroinflammation, and increased life span. Our results highlight the resemblance between the phenotype of the GBA1bm/m mutant fly and neuronopathic GD and underlie its relevance in further GD studies as well as a model to test possible therapeutic modalities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1420
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Gaucher disease
  • Glccer
  • Glcsph
  • Glucocerebrosidase
  • Inflammation
  • Unfolded protein response


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