TFEB regulates lysosomal proteostasis

Hum Mol Genet. 2013 May 15;22(10):1994-2009. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt052. Epub 2013 Feb 7.


Loss-of-function diseases are often caused by destabilizing mutations that lead to protein misfolding and degradation. Modulating the innate protein homeostasis (proteostasis) capacity may lead to rescue of native folding of the mutated variants, thereby ameliorating the disease phenotype. In lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs), a number of highly prevalent alleles have missense mutations that do not impair the enzyme's catalytic activity but destabilize its native structure, resulting in the degradation of the misfolded protein. Enhancing the cellular folding capacity enables rescuing the native, biologically functional structure of these unstable mutated enzymes. However, proteostasis modulators specific for the lysosomal system are currently unknown. Here, we investigate the role of the transcription factor EB (TFEB), a master regulator of lysosomal biogenesis and function, in modulating lysosomal proteostasis in LSDs. We show that TFEB activation results in enhanced folding, trafficking and lysosomal activity of a severely destabilized glucocerebrosidase (GC) variant associated with the development of Gaucher disease (GD), the most common LSD. TFEB specifically induces the expression of GC and of key genes involved in folding and lysosomal trafficking, thereby enhancing both the pool of mutated enzyme and its processing through the secretory pathway. TFEB activation also rescues the activity of a β-hexosaminidase mutant associated with the development of another LSD, Tay-Sachs disease, thus suggesting general applicability of TFEB-mediated proteostasis modulation to rescue destabilizing mutations in LSDs. In summary, our findings identify TFEB as a specific regulator of lysosomal proteostasis and suggest that TFEB may be used as a therapeutic target to rescue enzyme homeostasis in LSDs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fibroblasts
  • Gaucher Disease / genetics
  • Gaucher Disease / metabolism
  • Gaucher Disease / therapy
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Glucosylceramidase / genetics
  • Glucosylceramidase / metabolism
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / genetics
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Proteolysis*
  • Tay-Sachs Disease / genetics
  • Tay-Sachs Disease / metabolism
  • Tay-Sachs Disease / therapy


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • TFEB protein, human
  • Glucosylceramidase