Altered Differentiation Potential of Gaucher's Disease iPSC Neuronal Progenitors due to Wnt/β-Catenin Downregulation

Stem Cell Reports. 2017 Dec 12;9(6):1853-1867. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2017.10.029. Epub 2017 Nov 30.


Gaucher's disease (GD) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the GBA1 gene, which encodes acid β-glucocerebrosidase (GCase). Severe GBA1 mutations cause neuropathology that manifests soon after birth, suggesting that GCase deficiency interferes with neuronal development. We found that neuronopathic GD induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neuronal progenitor cells (NPCs) exhibit developmental defects due to downregulation of canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling and that GD iPSCs' ability to differentiate to dopaminergic (DA) neurons was strikingly reduced due to early loss of DA progenitors. Incubation of the mutant cells with the Wnt activator CHIR99021 (CHIR) or with recombinant GCase restored Wnt/β-catenin signaling and rescued DA differentiation. We also found that GD NPCs exhibit lysosomal dysfunction, which may be involved in Wnt downregulation by mutant GCase. We conclude that neuronopathic mutations in GCase lead to neurodevelopmental abnormalities due to a critical requirement of this enzyme for canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling at early stages of neurogenesis.

Keywords: GBA1; Wnt/β-catenin; dopaminergic development; glucocerebrosidase; iPSCs; lysosomal storage disease; neurodegeneration; neuronal progenitors; Gaucher disease; Parkinson's disease; dopaminergic neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / drug effects*
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / pathology
  • Gaucher Disease / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Lysosomes / genetics
  • Lysosomes / pathology
  • Mutation
  • Neural Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Neural Stem Cells / pathology
  • Neurogenesis / genetics*
  • Pyridines / administration & dosage
  • Pyrimidines / administration & dosage
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / drug effects
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / genetics


  • Chir 99021
  • Pyridines
  • Pyrimidines