Gaucher disease is a lysosomal storage disorder caused by a deficiency in glucocerebrosidase activity that leads to accumulation of glucosylceramide and glucosylsphingosine. Membrane raft microdomains are discrete, highly organized microdomains with a unique lipid composition that provide the necessary environment for specific protein-lipid and protein-protein interactions to take place. In this study we purified detergent resistant membranes (DRM; membrane rafts) from the occipital cortex and spleen from sheep affected with acute neuronopathic Gaucher disease and wild-type controls. We observed significant increases in the concentrations of glucosylceramide, hexosylsphingosine, BMP and gangliosides and decreases in the percentage of cholesterol and phosphatidylcholine leading to an altered DRM composition. Altered sphingolipid/cholesterol homeostasis would dramatically disrupt DRM architecture making them less ordered and more fluid. In addition, significant changes in the length and degree of lipid saturation within the DRM microdomains in the Gaucher brain were also observed. As these DRM microdomains are involved in many cellular events, an imbalance or disruption of the cell membrane homeostasis may impair normal cell function. This disruption of membrane raft microdomains and imbalance within the environment of cellular membranes of neuronal cells may be a key factor in initiating a cascade process leading to neurodegeneration.
- Journal Article