19q13.12 microdeletion syndrome fibroblasts display abnormal storage of cholesterol and sphingolipids in the endo-lysosomal system

Kexin Zhao, Aarnoud van der Spoel, Claudia Castiglioni, Sarah Gale, Hideji Fujiwara, Daniel S. Ory, Neale D. Ridgway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Microdeletions in 19q12q13.12 cause a rare and complex haploinsufficiency syndrome characterized by intellectual deficiency, developmental delays, and neurological movement disorders. Variability in the size and interval of the deletions makes it difficult to attribute the complex clinical phenotype of this syndrome to an underlying gene(s). As an alternate approach, we examined the biochemical and metabolic features of fibroblasts from an affected individual to derive clues as to the molecular basis for the syndrome. Immunofluorescence and electron microscopy of affected fibroblasts revealed an abnormal endo-lysosomal compartment that was characterized by rapid accumulation of lysosomotropic dyes, elevated LAMP1 and LAMP2 expression and vacuoles containing membrane whorls, common features of lysosomal lipid storage disorders. The late endosomes-lysosomes (LE/LY) of affected fibroblasts accumulated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and displayed reduced cholesterol esterification and increased de novo cholesterol synthesis, indicative of defective cholesterol transport to the endoplasmic reticulum. Affected fibroblasts also had increased ceramide and sphingolipid mass, altered glycosphingolipid species and accumulation of a fluorescent lactosylceramide probe in LE/LY. Autophagosomes also accumulated in affected fibroblasts because of decreased fusion with autolysosomes, a defect associated with other lysosomal storage diseases. Attempts to correct the cholesterol/sphingolipid storage defect in fibroblasts with cyclodextrin, sphingolipid synthesis inhibitors or by altering ion transport were unsuccessful. Our data show that 19q13.12 deletion fibroblasts have abnormal accumulation of cholesterol and sphingolipids in the endo-lysosomal system that compromises organelle function and could be an underlying cause of the clinical features of the syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2108-2118
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Autophagy
  • Cholesterol
  • Chromosome 19 deletion syndrome
  • Lipid storage disorder
  • Lysosomes
  • Sphingolipids


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