Sphingolipids are intrinsic components of membrane lipid rafts. The abnormal accumulation of these molecules may introduce architectural and functional changes in these domains, leading to cellular dysfunction. Galactosylsphingosine (psychosine) is a pathogenic lipid raft-associated molecule whose accumulation leads to brain deterioration and irreversible neurological handicap in the incurable leukodystrophy Krabbe disease (KD). The relevance of clearing excessive levels of pathogenic psychosine from lipid rafts in therapy for KD has not been investigated. The work presented here demonstrates that psychosine inhibits raft-mediated endocytosis in neural cells. In addition, although in vitro enzyme reconstitution is sufficient for the reversal of related endocytic defects in affected neural cells, traditional in vivo enzyme therapies in the mouse model of KD appear to be insufficient for complete removal of pathogenic levels of raft-associated psychosine. This work describes a mechanism that may contribute to limiting the in vivo efficacy of traditional therapies for KD.
Copyright © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.