Curcumin Treatment Abrogates Endoplasmic Reticulum Retention and Aggregation-Induced Apoptosis Associated with Neuropathy-Causing Myelin Protein Zero-Truncating Mutants

Mehrdad Khajavi, Ken Inoue, Wojciech Wiszniewski, Tomoko Ohyama, G. Jackson Snipes, and James R. Lupski
The American Journal of Human Genetics, volume 77 (2005), pages 841–850
Mutations in MPZ, the gene encoding myelin protein zero (MPZ), the major protein constituent of peripheral myelin, can cause the adult-onset, inherited neuropathy Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, as well as the more severe, childhood-onset Dejerine-Sottas neuropathy and congenital hypomyelinating neuropathy. Most MPZ-truncating mutations associated with severe forms of peripheral neuropathy result in premature termination codons within the terminal or penultimate exons that are not subject to nonsense-mediated decay and are stably translated into mutant proteins with potential dominant-negative activity. However, some truncating mutations at the 3 end of MPZ escape the nonsense-mediated decay pathway and cause a mild peripheral neuropathy phenotype. We examined the functional properties of MPZ-truncating proteins that escaped nonsense-mediated decay, and we found that frameshift mutations associated with severe disease cause an intracellular accumulation of mutant proteins, primarily within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which induces apoptosis. Curcumin, a chemical compound derived from the curry spice tumeric, releases the ER-retained MPZ mutants into the cytoplasm accompanied by a lower number of apoptotic cells. Our findings suggest that curcumin treatment is sufficient to relieve the toxic effect of mutant aggregation-induced apoptosis and may potentially have a therapeutic role in treating selected forms of inherited peripheral neuropathies. [Read more]

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