Gaucher disease: Heterologous expression of two alleles associated with neuronopathic phenotypes

Marie E. Grace, Anat Berg, Guo Shun He, Lauren Goldberg, Mia Horowitz, Gregory A. Grabowski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To investigate the molecular basis for the distinct neuronopathic phenotypes of Gaucher disease, acid β-glucosidases expressed from mutant DNAs in Gaucher disease type 2 (acute) and type 3 (subacute) patients were characterized in fibroblasts and with the baculovirus expression system in insect cells. Expression of the mutant DNA encoding a proline-for-leucine substitution at amino acid 444 (L444P) resulted in a catalytically defective unstable acid β-glucosidase in either fibroblasts from L444P/L444P homozygotes or in insect cells. This mutation was found to be homoallelic in subacute neuronopathic (type 3) Gaucher disease. In comparison expression of the mutant cDNA encoding an arginine-for-proline substitution at amino acid 415 (P415R) resulted in an inactive and unstable protein in insect cells. This allele was found only in a type 2 patient with the L444P/P415R genotype. The substantial variation in the type 3 phenotype (L444P homozygotes) suggests the complex nature of the molecular basis of phenotypic variation in Gaucher disease. Yet, the association of neuronopathic phenotypes with alleles producing severely compromised (L444P) or functionally null (P415R) enzymes indicates that the effective level of residual activity at the lysosome is likely to be a major determinant of the severity of Gaucher disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-655
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991
Externally publishedYes


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