Posttranslational glutamylation/deglutamylation balance in tubulins influences dendritic maturation and neuronal survival of cerebellar Purkinje neurons (PNs). PNs and some additional neuronal types degenerate in several spontaneous, independently occurring Purkinje cell degeneration (pcd) mice featuring mutant neuronal nuclear protein induced by axotomy (Nna1), a deglutamylase gene. This defective deglutamylase allows glutamylases to form hyperglutamylated tubulins. In pcd, all PNs die during postnatal “adolescence.” Neurons in some additional brain regions also die, mostly later than PNs. We show in laser capture microdissected single PNs, in cerebellar granule cell neuronal clusters, and in dissected hippocampus and substantia nigra that deglutamase mRNA and protein were virtually absent before pcd PNs degenerated, whereas glutaminase mRNA and protein remained normal. Hyperglutamylated microtubules and dimeric tubulins accumulated in pcd PNs and were involved in pcd PN death by glutamylase/deglutamylase imbalance. Importantly, treatment with a microtubule depolymerizer corrected the glutamylation/deglutamylation ratio, increasing PN survival. Further, before onset of neuronal death, pcd PNs displayed prominent basal polylisosomal masses rich in ER. We propose a “seesaw” metamorphic model summarizing mutant Nna1-induced tubulin hyperglutamylation, the pcd’s PN phenotype, and report that the neuronal disorder involved ER stress, unfolded protein response, and protein synthesis inhibition preceding PN death by apoptosis/necroptosis.
Jianxue Li, Evan Y. Snyder, Fenny H.F. Tang, Renata Pasqualini, Wadih Arap, Richard L. Sidman