Pharmacological chaperones increase residual β-galactocerebrosidase activity in fibroblasts from Krabbe patients

Mol Genet Metab. 2014 Aug;112(4):294-301. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2014.05.009. Epub 2014 May 23.


Krabbe disease or globoid cell leukodystrophy is a degenerative, lysosomal storage disease resulting from the deficiency of β-galactocerebrosidase activity. This enzyme catalyzes the lysosomal hydrolysis of galactocerebroside and psychosine. Krabbe disease is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait, and many of the 70 disease-causing mutations identified in the GALC gene are associated with protein misfolding. Recent studies have shown that enzyme inhibitors can sometimes translocate misfolded polypeptides to their appropriate target organelle bypassing the normal cellular quality control machinery and resulting in enhanced activity. In search for pharmacological chaperones that could rescue the β-galactocerebrosidase activity, we investigated the effect of α-Lobeline or 3',4',7-trihydroxyisoflavone on several patient-derived fibroblast cell lines carrying missense mutations, rather than on transduced cell lines. Incubation of these cell lines with α-lobeline or 3',4',7-trihydroxyisoflavone leads to an increase of β-galacocerebrosidase activity in p.G553R + p.G553R, in p.E130K + p.N295T and in p.G57S + p.G57S mutant forms over the critical threshold. The low but sustained expression of β-galactocerebrosidase induced by these compounds is a promising result; in fact, it is known that residual enzyme activity of only 15-20% is sufficient for clinical efficacy. The molecular interaction of the two chaperones with β-galactocerebrosidase is also supported by in silico analysis. Collectively, our combined in silico-in vitro approach indicate α-lobeline and 3',4',7-trihydroxyisoflavone as two potential pharmacological chaperones for the treatment or improvement of quality of life in selected Krabbe disease patients.

Keywords: Krabbe disease; Lysosomal storage disease; Missense mutations; Pharmacological chaperones; β-Galactocerebrosidase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Computer Simulation
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / enzymology*
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Galactosylceramidase / metabolism*
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / chemistry
  • Isoflavones / pharmacology*
  • Isoflavones / therapeutic use
  • Leukodystrophy, Globoid Cell / drug therapy
  • Leukodystrophy, Globoid Cell / enzymology*
  • Leukodystrophy, Globoid Cell / pathology
  • Lobeline / chemistry
  • Lobeline / pharmacology*
  • Lobeline / therapeutic use
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mutation, Missense / genetics
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Isoflavones
  • Lobeline
  • Galactosylceramidase
  • 3',4',7-trihydroxyisoflavone