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Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Jun 15;21(12):2713-24. doi: 10.1093/hmg/dds097. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Impaired neurotransmission in ether lipid-deficient nerve terminals.

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Heidelberg Center of Biochemistry, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.


Isolated defects of ether lipid (EL) biosynthesis in humans cause rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata type 2 and type 3, serious peroxisomal disorders. Using a previously described mouse model [Rodemer, C., Thai, T.P., Brugger, B., Kaercher, T., Werner, H., Nave, K.A., Wieland, F., Gorgas, K., and Just, W.W. (2003) Inactivation of ether lipid biosynthesis causes male infertility, defects in eye development and optic nerve hypoplasia in mice. Hum. Mol. Genet., 12, 1881-1895], we investigated the effect of EL deficiency in isolated murine nerve terminals (synaptosomes) on the pre-synaptic release of the neurotransmitters (NTs) glutamate and acetylcholine. Both Ca(2+)-dependent exocytosis and Ca(2+)-independent efflux of the transmitters were affected. EL-deficient synaptosomes respire at a reduced rate and exhibit a lowered adenosin-5'-triphosphate/adenosine diphosphate (ATP/ADP) ratio. Consequently, ATP-driven processes, such as synaptic vesicle cycling and maintenance of Na(+), K(+) and Ca(2+) homeostasis, might be disturbed. Analyzing reactive oxygen species in EL-deficient neural and non-neural tissues revealed that plasmalogens (PLs), the most abundant EL species in mammalian central nervous system, considerably contribute to the generation of the lipid peroxidation product malondialdehyde. Although EL-deficient tissue contains less lipid peroxidation products, fibroblasts lacking ELs are more susceptible to induced oxidative stress. In summary, these results suggest that due to the reduced energy state of EL-deficient tissue, the Ca(2+)-independent efflux of NTs increases while the Ca(2+)-dependent release declines. Furthermore, lack of PLs is mainly compensated for by an increase in the concentration of phosphatidylethanolamine and results in a significantly lowered level of lipid peroxidation products in the brain cortex and cerebellum.

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