Decreased calcium flux in Niemann-Pick type C1 patient-specific iPSC-derived neurons due to higher amount of calcium-impermeable AMPA receptors

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Niemann-Pick disease type C1 (NPC1) is a rare progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in the NPC1 gene, resulting mainly in the accumulation of cholesterol and the ganglioside GM2. Recently, we described accumulations of these lipids in neuronal differentiated cells derived from NPC1 patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). As these lipids are essential for proper cell membrane composition, we were interested in the expression and function of voltage-gated ion channels and excitatory AMPA receptors (AMPARs) in neurons derived from three patient-specific iPSC lines. By means of patch clamp recordings and microfluorimetric measurements of calcium (Ca2 +), we examined the expression of voltage-gated ion channels and AMPARs. Cells of the three used cell lines carrying the c.1836A > C/c.1628delC, the c.1180T > C or the c.3182T > C mutation demonstrated a significantly reduced AMPA-induced Ca2 +-influx, suggesting an altered expression profile of these receptors. RT-qPCR revealed a significant upregulation of mRNA for the AMPA receptor subunits GluA1 and GluA2 and western blot analysis showed increased protein level of GluA2. Thus, we conclude that the observed reduced Ca2 +-influx is based on an increase of GluA2 containing Ca2 +-impermeable AMPARs. An attenuated function of GluRs in neurons potentially contributes to the progressive neurodegeneration observed in NPC1 and might represent an objective in regard of the development of new therapeutic approaches in NPC1.

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