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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 May 19;106(20):8332-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0903223106. Epub 2009 May 5.

Sanfilippo syndrome type B, a lysosomal storage disease, is also a tauopathy.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Sanfilippo syndrome type B (mucopolysaccharidosis III B, MPS III B) is an autosomal recessive, neurodegenerative disease of children, characterized by profound mental retardation and dementia. The primary cause is mutation in the NAGLU gene, resulting in deficiency of alpha-N-acetylglucosaminidase and lysosomal accumulation of heparan sulfate. In the mouse model of MPS III B, neurons and microglia display the characteristic vacuolation of lysosomal storage of undegraded substrate, but neurons in the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) display accumulation of several additional substances. We used whole genome microarray analysis to examine differential gene expression in MEC neurons isolated by laser capture microdissection from Naglu(-/-) and Naglu(+/-) mice. Neurons from the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC) were used as tissue controls. The highest increase in gene expression (6- to 7-fold between mutant and control) in MEC and LEC neurons was that of Lyzs, which encodes lysozyme, but accumulation of lysozyme protein was seen in MEC neurons only. Because of a report that lysozyme induced the formation of hyperphosphorylated tau (P-tau) in cultured neurons, we searched for P-tau by immunohistochemistry. P-tau was found in MEC of Naglu(-/-) mice, in the same neurons as lysozyme. In older mutant mice, it was also seen in the dentate gyrus, an area important for memory. Electron microscopy of dentate gyrus neurons showed cytoplasmic inclusions of paired helical filaments, P-tau aggregates characteristic of tauopathies-a group of age-related dementias that include Alzheimer disease. Our findings indicate that the Sanfilippo syndrome type B should also be considered a tauopathy.

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