Lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) constitute a diverse group of inherited diseases that result from lysosomal storage of compounds occurring in direct consequence to deficiencies of proteins implicated in proper lysosomal function. Pathology in the LSD mucolipidosis type IV (MLIV), is characterized by lysosomal storage of lipids together with water-soluble materials in cells from every tissue and organ of affected patients. Mutations in the mucolipin 1 (TRPML1) protein cause MLIV and TRPML1 has also been shown to interact with two of its paralogous proteins, mucolipin 2 (TRPML2) and mucolipin 3 (TRPML3), in heterologous expression systems. Heterogeneous lysosomal storage is readily identified in electron micrographs of MLIV patient cells, suggesting that proper TRPML1 function is essential for the maintenance of lysosomal integrity. In order to investigate whether TRPML2 and TRPML3 also play a role in the maintenance of lysosomal integrity, we conducted gene-specific knockdown assays against these protein targets. Ultrastructural analysis revealed lysosomal inclusions in both TRPML2 and TRPML3 knockdown cells, suggestive of a common mechanism for these proteins, in parallel with TRPML1, in the regulation of lysosomal integrity. However, co-immunoprecipitation assays revealed that physical interactions between each of the endogenous TRPML proteins are quite limited. In addition, we found that all three endogenous proteins only partially co-localize with each other in lysosomal as well as extra-lysosomal compartments. This suggests that native TRPML2 and TRPML3 might participate with native TRPML1 in a dynamic form of lysosomal regulation. Given that depletion of TRPML2/3 led to lysosomal storage typical to an LSD, we propose that depletion of these proteins might also underlie novel LSD pathologies not described hitherto.
2009 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.