Optimal lysosome function requires maintenance of an acidic pH maintained by proton pumps in combination with a counterion transporter such as the Cl-/H+ exchanger, CLCN7 (ClC-7), encoded by CLCN7. The role of ClC-7 in maintaining lysosomal pH has been controversial. In this paper, we performed clinical and genetic evaluations of two children of different ethnicities. Both children had delayed myelination and development, organomegaly, and hypopigmentation, but neither had osteopetrosis. Whole-exome and -genome sequencing revealed a de novo c.2144A>G variant in CLCN7 in both affected children. This p.Tyr715Cys variant, located in the C-terminal domain of ClC-7, resulted in increased outward currents when it was heterologously expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Fibroblasts from probands displayed a lysosomal pH approximately 0.2 units lower than that of control cells, and treatment with chloroquine normalized the pH. Primary fibroblasts from both probands also exhibited markedly enlarged intracellular vacuoles; this finding was recapitulated by the overexpression of human p.Tyr715Cys CLCN7 in control fibroblasts, reflecting the dominant, gain-of-function nature of the variant. A mouse harboring the knock-in Clcn7 variant exhibited hypopigmentation, hepatomegaly resulting from abnormal storage, and enlarged vacuoles in cultured fibroblasts. Our results show that p.Tyr715Cys is a gain-of-function CLCN7 variant associated with developmental delay, organomegaly, and hypopigmentation resulting from lysosomal hyperacidity, abnormal storage, and enlarged intracellular vacuoles. Our data supports the hypothesis that the ClC-7 antiporter plays a critical role in maintaining lysosomal pH.
Keywords: ClC-7 antiporter; chloroquine; cutaneous albinism; lysosomal hyperacidity; lysosomal membrane counterion; lysosomal pH; lysosomal storage disease; oculocutaneous albinism.
Published by Elsevier Inc.