Atrophic macular degeneration mutations in ELOVL4 result in the intracellular misrouting of the protein.
ABSTRACT Elongation of very long chain fatty acids 4 (ELOVL4) is a novel member of the ELO family of genes that are involved in fatty acid metabolism. ELOVL4 encodes a putative transmembrane protein of 314 amino acids that carries a possible endoplasmic reticulum (ER) retention/retrieval signal (KXKXX) at the C-terminus. Two distinct mutations, a 5-bp deletion and a complex mutation from the same region in exon 6 of this gene, have been reported so far and are associated with autosomal dominant atrophic macular degeneration (adMD/STGD3). Both of these deletions could result in C-terminal truncation and loss of the ER retention signal in the mutant protein. We expressed the wild-type and mutant proteins in COS-7 and CHO cells to study the intracellular distribution of ELOVL4 and to identify possible implications of the above mutations in its localization. Immunofluorescence analysis of these proteins along with organelle marker antibodies revealed predominant ER localization for wild-type ELOVL4. Targeted deletion of the dilysine motif at the C-terminus of the protein resulted in the loss of ER localization. Immunoelectron microscopy and immunofluorescence analysis revealed a similar ER localization pattern for the protein in human photoreceptors. These data indicate that ELOVL4 is an ER-resident protein, which supports its suggested function in fatty acid elongation. We also demonstrate that the localization of both mutant proteins was dramatically changed from an ER to a Golgi distribution. Our observations suggest that the consequences of defective protein trafficking could underlie the molecular mechanism associated with degeneration of the macula in the patients with adMD/STGD3.
Article: Retinal pathology and skin barrier defect in mice carrying a Stargardt disease-3 mutation in elongase of very long chain fatty acids-4.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Autosomal dominant Stargardt disease-3 (STGD3) is caused by mutations in elongase of very long chain fatty acids-4 (ELOVL4). The goal of this study was to generate and characterize heterozygous and homozygous knockin-mice that carry a human STGD3 pathogenic mutation in the mouse Elovl4 gene. Recombinant Stgd3-knockin mice were generated using a DNA construct which introduced a pathogenic five-base pair deletion and two point mutations in exon 6 of the Elovl4 gene. Stgd3-mouse genotypes were confirmed by Southern blot analysis and expression of wild-type (wt) and mutated Elovl4 mRNAs assayed by nuclease protection assay. The retinal phenotype of heterozygous Stgd3 mice was characterized by morphological studies, elecroretinographic (ERG) analysis and assay of lipofuscin accumulation. Homozygous Stgd3 mice were examined for both retinal and gross morphology. They were also analyzed for skin morphology and skin barrier function, and for epidermal lipid content using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) combined with mass spectrometry (MS). The Stgd3 allele codes for a truncated mouse Elovl4 protein, which also contains the same aberrant 8-amino acid C-terminus encoded by the human pathogenic STGD3 allele. Heterozygous Stgd3 mice expressed equal amounts of both wt and mutant Elovl4 mRNAs in the retina, showed no significant changes in retinal morphology, but did show accumulation of lipofuscin and reduced visual function. Homozygous Stgd3 mice were born with an expected Mendelian frequency, without any initial gross anatomical or behavioral abnormalities. By 6-12 h postpartum, they became dehydrated and died. A skin permeability assay detected a defect in epidermal barrier function. Homozygous mutant epidermis expressed a normal content of mutated Elovl4 mRNA and contained all four epidermal cellular layers. HPLC/MS analysis of epidermal lipids revealed the presence of all barrier lipids with the exception of the complete absence of acylceramides, the critical lipids for barrier function of the skin. The generated Stgd3-knockin mice are a genetic model of human STGD3 and reproduce features of the human disease: accumulation of lipofuscin and reduced visual functions. Homozygous Stgd3 mice showed a complete absence of acylceramides from the epidermis. Their absence suggests a role for Elovl4 in acylceramide synthesis, and in particular, a role in the synthesis of the unique very long chain C30-C40 fatty acids present in skin acylceramides.Molecular vision 02/2007; 13:258-72. · 2.20 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Dominant Stargardt macular dystrophy (STGD3) is caused by several different mutations in a gene named ELOVL4, which shares sequence homologies with a family of genes that encode proteins involved in the ELOngation of Very Long chain fatty acids. Studies have suggested that patients with STGD3 have aberrant metabolism of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n3), the major polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in retinal rod outer segment membranes. We tested the effect of DHA on the progression of retinal degeneration in transgenic mice that express one of the mutations identified in STGD3. Transgenic mice expressing mutant human ELOVL4 (TG2) were bred to mice expressing the fat-1 protein, which can convert n6 to n3 PUFA. Mice were maintained on an n3-deficient diet containing 10% safflower oil (SFO, enriched in n6 PUFA; n6/n3=273) so that four experimental groups were produced that differed only in levels of n3 PUFA and expression of the hELOVL4 transgene. These groups were identified by genotyping and named Fat1+/TG2+, Fat1(-)/TG2+, Fat1+/TG2(-), and Fat1(-)/TG2(-). All were continued on the SFO diet for 4 to 16 weeks such that those not expressing Fat1 would be deficient in n3 fatty acids. At both time points, animals were analyzed for retinal function by electroretinography (ERG), photoreceptor cell viability by outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness measurements, fatty acid profiles in several tissues, and rhodopsin levels. Mice expressing the fat-1 transgene had significantly higher levels of n3 PUFA, primarily DHA, in retina, liver, and plasma lipids at 4 and 16 weeks of age. Retinal DHA levels in fat-1 mice were twice those of controls. By 16 weeks of age, mice expressing the mutant hELOVL4 transgene had a significantly greater loss of photoreceptor cells, reduced ERG amplitudes, and lower rhodopsin levels than control mice. There was no effect of retinal fatty acids on the rate of degeneration of retinas expressing the ELOVL4 transgene. We found no evidence that high levels of DHA in retinal membranes protected photoreceptor cells expressing mutant ELOVL4 from retinal degeneration. We conclude that DHA is not beneficial for the treatment of retinal degeneration in this animal model of human STGD3 macular dystrophy.Molecular vision 02/2009; 15:1185-93. · 2.20 Impact Factor
Article: Hetero-oligomeric interactions of an ELOVL4 mutant protein: implications in the molecular mechanism of Stargardt-3 macular dystrophy.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Stargardt disease 3 (STGD3) is a juvenile macular dystrophy caused by mutations in the elongase of very long-chain fatty acids-like 4 (ELOVL4) gene, which encodes an elongase involved in the production of extremely long-chain fatty acids. The STGD3-related mutations cause production of C-terminally truncated proteins (ELOVL4ΔC). STGD3 is transmitted in an autosomal dominant manner. To date, molecular mechanisms of this pathology have been proposed based solely on the interaction between wild-type ELOVL4 and ELOVL4ΔC. However, analyses of Elovl4ΔC knockin mice revealed reduced levels of not only ELOVL4 substrates, but also of fatty acids with a broad spectrum of chain lengths. Therefore, we investigated the molecular mechanisms responsible for ELOVL4ΔC affecting the entire very long-chain fatty acid (VLCFA) elongation pathway. The ELOVL4ΔC protein was expressed in HEK 293T cells, and its effect on elongase activities toward several acyl-CoAs were examined. We also investigated the homo- and hetero-oligomerization of ELOVL4ΔC with other elongases (ELOVL1-7) or with other enzymes involved in VLCFA elongation using coimmunoprecipitation experiments. We found that ELOVL4ΔC forms a homo-oligomer more strongly than wild-type ELOVL4. ELOVL4ΔC also interacts strongly with other elongases, although similar interactions for wild-type ELOVL4 were observed as only weak. In addition, ELOVL4ΔC is able to form an elongase complex by interacting with other components of the VLCFA elongation machinery, similar to wild-type ELOVL4. We propose that not only the ELOVL4-ELOVL4ΔC homo-oligomeric interaction, but also several hetero-oligomeric interactions, may contribute to the pathology of STGD3.Molecular vision 01/2010; 16:2438-45. · 2.20 Impact Factor