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Brain Dev. 2013 Jun;35(6):515-23. doi: 10.1016/j.braindev.2012.12.002. Epub 2013 Jan 3.

Chaperone therapy update: Fabry disease, GM1-gangliosidosis and Gaucher disease.

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International University of Health and Welfare Graduate School, Otawara, Japan.


Chaperone therapy is a newly developed molecular therapeutic approach to lysosomal diseases, a group of human genetic diseases causing severe brain damage. Based on early molecular studies during the last decade of the 20th century and early years of the 21st century, mainly on Fabry disease and GM1-gangliosidosis, we found some mutant enzyme proteins were unstable in the cell, and unable to express catalytic activities. Subsequently galactose and other active-site binding substrate analogs were found stabilized and enhance the mutant enzyme activity in culture cells. We concluded that the mutant misfolding enzyme protein and substrate analog competitive inhibitor (chemical chaperone) form a stable complex to be transported to the lysosome, to restore the catalytic activity of mutant enzyme after spontaneous dissociation under the acidic condition. This gene mutation-specific molecular interaction is a paradoxical phenomenon that an enzyme inhibitor in vitro serves as an enzyme stabilizer in situ. First we developed a commercially available compound 1-deoxygalactonojirimycin (DGJ) for Fabry disease, and confirmed the above molecular phenomenon. Currently DGJ has become a new candidate of oral medicine for Fabry disease, generalized vasculopathy involving the kidneys, heart and central nervous system in the middle age. This drug development has reached the phase 3 of human clinical study. Then we found two valienamine derivatives, N-octyl-4-epi-β-valienamine (NOEV) and N-octyl-β-valienamine (NOV), as promising therapeutic agents for human β-galactosidase deficiency disorders (GM1-gangliosidosis and Morquio B disease) and β-glucosidase deficiency disorders (phenotypic variations of Gaucher disease), respectively. Originally NOEV and NOV had been discovered as competitive inhibitors, and then their paradoxical bioactivities as chaperones were confirmed in cultured fibroblasts from patients with these disorders. Subsequently GM1-gangliosidosis model mice have been used for confirmation of clinical effectiveness, adverse effects and pharmacokinetic studies. Orally administered NOEV entered the brain through the blood-brain barrier, enhanced β-galactosidase activity, reduced substrate storage, and improved neurological deterioration clinically. Computational analysis revealed pH-dependent enzyme-chaperone interactions. Our recent study indicated chaperone activity of a new DGJ derivative, MTD118, for β-galactosidase complementary to NOEV. NOV also showed the chaperone effect toward several β-glucosidase gene mutants in Gaucher disease. Furthermore a commercial expectorant drug ambroxol was found to be a chaperone for β-glucosidase. A few Gaucher patients responded to this drug with remarkable improvement of oculomotor dysfunction and myoclonus. We hope chaperone therapy will become available for some patients with Fabry disease, GM1-gangliosidosis, Gaucher disease, and other lysosomal storage diseases particularly with central nervous system involvement.

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