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Assay Drug Dev Technol. 2011 Jun;9(3):213-35. doi: 10.1089/adt.2011.0370.

Identification and characterization of pharmacological chaperones to correct enzyme deficiencies in lysosomal storage disorders.

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Amicus Therapeutics, Cranbury, New Jersey.


Many human diseases result from mutations in specific genes. Once translated, the resulting aberrant proteins may be functionally competent and produced at near-normal levels. However, because of the mutations, the proteins are recognized by the quality control system of the endoplasmic reticulum and are not processed or trafficked correctly, ultimately leading to cellular dysfunction and disease. Pharmacological chaperones (PCs) are small molecules designed to mitigate this problem by selectively binding and stabilizing their target protein, thus reducing premature degradation, facilitating intracellular trafficking, and increasing cellular activity. Partial or complete restoration of normal function by PCs has been shown for numerous types of mutant proteins, including secreted proteins, transcription factors, ion channels, G protein-coupled receptors, and, importantly, lysosomal enzymes. Collectively, lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) result from genetic mutations in the genes that encode specific lysosomal enzymes, leading to a deficiency in essential enzymatic activity and cellular accumulation of the respective substrate. To date, over 50 different LSDs have been identified, several of which are treated clinically with enzyme replacement therapy or substrate reduction therapy, although insufficiently in some cases. Importantly, a wide range of in vitro assays are now available to measure mutant lysosomal enzyme interaction with and stabilization by PCs, as well as subsequent increases in cellular enzyme levels and function. The application of these assays to the identification and characterization of candidate PCs for mutant lysosomal enzymes will be discussed in this review. In addition, considerations for the successful in vivo use and development of PCs to treat LSDs will be discussed.

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