Megalencephalic leucoencephalopathy with cysts: defect in chloride currents and cell volume regulation.

Department of Child Neurology, VU University Medical Center, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Brain (Impact Factor: 10.23). 11/2011; 134(Pt 11):3342-54. DOI: 10.1093/brain/awr255
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Megalencephalic leucoencephalopathy with subcortical cysts is a genetic brain disorder with onset in early childhood. Affected infants develop macrocephaly within the first year of life, after several years followed by slowly progressive, incapacitating cerebellar ataxia and spasticity. From early on, magnetic resonance imaging shows diffuse signal abnormality and swelling of the cerebral white matter, with evidence of highly increased white matter water content. In most patients, the disease is caused by mutations in the gene MLC1, which encodes a plasma membrane protein almost exclusively expressed in brain and at lower levels in leucocytes. Within the brain, MLC1 is mainly located in astrocyte-astrocyte junctions adjacent to the blood-brain and cereborspinal fluid-brain barriers. Thus far, the function of MLC1 has remained unknown. We tested the hypothesis that MLC1 mutations cause a defect in ion currents involved in water and ion homeostasis, resulting in cerebral white matter oedema. Using whole-cell patch clamp studies we demonstrated an association between MLC1 expression and anion channel activity in different cell types, most importantly astrocytes. The currents were absent in chloride-free medium and in cells with disease-causing MLC1 mutations. MLC1-dependent currents were greatly enhanced by hypotonic pretreatment causing cell swelling, while ion channel blockers, including Tamoxifen, abolished the currents. Down regulation of endogenous MLC1 expression in astrocytes by small interfering RNA greatly reduced the activity of this channel, which was rescued by overexpression of normal MLC1. The current-voltage relationship and the pharmacological profiles of the currents indicated that the channel activated by MLC1 expression is a volume-regulated anion channel. Such channels are involved in regulatory volume decrease. We showed that regulatory volume decrease was hampered in lymphoblasts from patients with megalencephalic leucoencephalopathy. A similar trend was observed in astrocytes with decreased MLC1 expression; this effect was rescued by overexpression of normal MLC1. In the present study, we show that absence or mutations of the MLC1 protein negatively impact both volume-regulated anion channel activity and regulatory volume decrease, indicating that megalencephalic leucoencephalopathy is caused by a disturbance of cell volume regulation mediated by chloride transport.

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    ABSTRACT: Megalencephalic leukoencephalopathy with subcortical cysts (MLCs) disease is a rare inherited, autosomal recessive form of childhood-onset spongiform leukodystrophy characterized by macrocephaly, deterioration of motor functions, epileptic seizures and mental decline. Brain edema, subcortical fluid cysts, myelin and astrocyte vacuolation are the histopathological hallmarks of MLC. Mutations in either the MLC1 gene (>75% of patients) or the GlialCAM gene (<20% of patients) are responsible for the disease. Recently, the GlialCAM adhesion protein was found essential for the membrane expression and function of the chloride channel ClC-2 indicating MLC disease caused by mutation in GlialCAM as the first channelopathy among leukodystrophies. On the contrary, the function of MLC1 protein, which binds GlialCAM, its functional relationship with ClC-2 and the molecular mechanisms underlying MLC1 mutation-induced functional defects are not fully understood yet. The human MLC1 gene encodes a 377-amino acid membrane protein with eight predicted transmembrane domains which shows very low homology with voltage-dependent potassium (K +) channel subunits. The high expression of MLC1 in brain astrocytes contacting blood vessels and meninges and brain alterations observed in MLC patients have led to hypothesize a role for MLC1 in the regulation of ion and water homeostasis. Recent studies have shown that MLC1 establishes structural and/or functional interactions with several ion/water channels and transporters and ion channel accessory proteins, and that these interactions are affected by MLC1 mutations causing MLC. Here, we review data on MLC1 functional properties obtained in in vitro and in vivo models and discuss evidence linking the effects of MLC1 mutations to brain channelopathies.
    Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 05/2015; 9. DOI:10.3389/fncel.2015.00106 · 4.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Megalencephalic leukoencephalopathy with subcortical cysts (MLC) is a leukodystrophy characterized by myelin vacuolization and caused by mutations in MLC1 or GLIALCAM. Patients with recessive mutations in either MLC1 or GLIALCAM show the same clinical phenotype. It has been shown that GLIALCAM is necessary for the correct targeting of MLC1 to the membrane at cell junctions, but its own localization was independent of MLC1 in vitro. However, recent studies in Mlc1(-/-) mice have shown that GlialCAM is mislocalized in glial cells. In order to investigate whether the relationship between Mlc1 and GlialCAM is species-specific, we first identified MLC-related genes in zebrafish and generated an mlc1(-/-) zebrafish. We have characterized mlc1(-/-) zebrafish both functionally and histologically and compared the phenotype with that of the Mlc1(-/-) mice. In mlc1(-/-) zebrafish, as in Mlc1(-/-) mice, Glialcam is mislocalized. Re-examination of a brain biopsy from an MLC patient indicates that GLIALCAM is also mislocalized in Bergmann glia in the cerebellum. In vitro, impaired localization of GlialCAM was observed in astrocyte cultures from Mlc1(-/-) mouse only in the presence of elevated potassium levels, which mimics neuronal activity. In summary, here we demonstrate an evolutionary conserved role for MLC1 in regulating glial surface levels of GLIALCAM, and this interrelationship explains why patients with mutations in either gene (MLC1 or GLIALCAM) share the same clinical phenotype.
    Human Molecular Genetics 05/2014; 23(19). DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddu231 · 6.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Defects in the astrocytic membrane protein MLC1, the adhesion molecule GlialCAM or the chloride channel ClC-2 underlie human leukoencephalopathies. Whereas GlialCAM binds ClC-2 and MLC1, and modifies ClC-2 currents in vitro, no functional connections between MLC1 and ClC-2 are known. Here we investigate this by generating loss-of-function Glialcam and Mlc1 mouse models manifesting myelin vacuolization. We find that ClC-2 is unnecessary for MLC1 and GlialCAM localization in brain, whereas GlialCAM is important for targeting MLC1 and ClC-2 to specialized glial domains in vivo and for modifying ClC-2's biophysical properties specifically in oligodendrocytes (OLs), the cells chiefly affected by vacuolization. Unexpectedly, MLC1 is crucial for proper localization of GlialCAM and ClC-2, and for changing ClC-2 currents. Our data unmask an unforeseen functional relationship between MLC1 and ClC-2 in vivo, which is probably mediated by GlialCAM, and suggest that ClC-2 participates in the pathogenesis of megalencephalic leukoencephalopathy with subcortical cysts.
    Nature Communications 03/2014; 5:3475. DOI:10.1038/ncomms4475 · 10.74 Impact Factor


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May 31, 2014