Lysosomal functions and dysfunctions: Molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying Gaucher disease and its association with Parkinson disease

Mia Horowitz*, Hila Braunstein, Ari Zimran, Shoshana Revel-Vilk, Ozlem Goker-Alpan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Lysosomes have a critical role in maintaining normal cellular homeostasis mediated by their involvement in secretion, plasma membrane repair, cell signaling and energy metabolism. Lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) are a group of approximately 50 rare disorders caused by lysosomal dysfunction that occur due to mutations in a gene of a lysosomal protein. Gaucher disease (GD), an autosomal recessive disorder and one of the most common LSDs, is caused by the deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme acid-β-glucocerebrosidase (GCase), due to biallelic mutations in the GBA1 gene. Reduced GCase activity leads to the accumulation of glucosylceramide (GlcCer), which is deacylated by lysosomal acid ceramidase to a toxic metabolite, glucosylshpingosine (GlcSph). Most GBA1 variants are recognized as misfolded in the ER, where the retention for refolding attempts initiates stress and activates the stress response known as the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR). The distinct clinical subtypes of GD are based on whether there is primary involvement of the central nervous system. Type 1 GD (GD1) is the nonneuropathic type, however, the recent recognition of the association of GD with the development of parkinsonism defies this classification. Patients with GD1 and carriers of GBA1 mutations are at risk for the development of parkinsonian manifestations. Parkinson disease (PD), the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease, culminates in a movement disorder with the premature death of the patients. In PD and related disorders, collectively called synucleinopathies, the hallmark pathology is α-synuclein positive aggregates referred to as Lewy bodies or Lewy neurites and the death of dopaminergic neurons. While PD is mostly sporadic, in ∼5–10% of cases, the disease results from pathogenic variants in a growing number of genes. The most common genetic cause of PD is mutations in GBA1. Two mechanisms have been proposed for this link: (A) a “gain of function” mechanism, in which mutant GCase (protein) contributes to aggregate formation and to the development of PD, and the (B) “haploinsufficiency” (“loss of function”) model, suggesting that one normal GBA1 allele is insufficient to carry adequate GCase activity and functional deficiency of GCase impedes α-synuclein metabolism. Lysosomal dysfunction, compromised autophagy and mitophagy further enhance the accumulation of α-synuclein, which results in the development of PD pathology. The present review will elaborate on the biology of GD, its association with PD and related disorders, and discuss the possible mechanisms underlying this association.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114402
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
StatePublished - Aug 2022


FundersFunder number
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company
Sanofi GenzymeNCT02906020
Pfizer Pharmaceuticals


    • Gaucher disease
    • Glucocerebrosidase (GCase)
    • Misfolding
    • Parkinson disease
    • Unfolded Protein Response (UPR)


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