Role of protein aggregation and degradation in autosomal dominant neurohypophyseal diabetes insipidus

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2020 Feb 5:501:110653. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2019.110653. Epub 2019 Nov 27.


This review focuses on the cellular and molecular aspects underlying familial neurohypophyseal diabetes insipidus (DI), a rare disorder that is usually transmitted in an autosomal-dominant fashion. The disease, manifesting in infancy or early childhood and gradually progressing in severity, is caused by fully penetrant heterozygous mutations in the gene encoding prepro-vasopressin-neurophysin II, the precursor of the antidiuretic hormone arginine vasopressin (AVP). Post mortem studies in affected adults have shown cell degeneration in vasopressinergic hypothalamic nuclei. Studies in cells expressing pathogenic mutants and knock-in rodent models have shown that the mutant precursors are folding incompetent and fail to exit the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), as occurs normally with proteins that have entered the regulated secretory pathway. A portion of these mutants is eliminated via ER-associated degradation (ERAD) by proteasomes after retrotranslocation to the cytosol. Another portion forms large disulfide-linked fibrillar aggregates within the ER, in which wild-type precursor is trapped. Aggregation capacity is independently conferred by two domains of the prohormone, namely the AVP moiety and the C-terminal glycopeptide (copeptin). The same domains are also required for packaging into dense-core secretory granules and regulated secretion, suggesting a disturbed balance between the physiological self-aggregation at the trans-Golgi network and avoiding premature aggregate formation at the ER in the disease. The critical role of ERAD in maintaining physiological water balance has been underscored by experiments in mice expressing wild-type AVP but lacking critical components of the ERAD machinery. These animals also develop DI and show amyloid-like aggregates in the ER lumen. Thus, the capacity of the ERAD is exceeded in autosomal dominant DI, which can be viewed as a neurodegenerative disorder associated with the formation of amyloid ER aggregates. While DI symptoms develop prior to detectable cell death in transgenic DI mice, the eventual loss of vasopressinergic neurons is accompanied by autophagy, but the mechanism leading to cell degeneration in autosomal dominant neurohypophyseal DI still remains unknown.

Keywords: Aggregation; Diabetes insipidus; ERAD; Endoplasmic reticulum; Hereditary; Neurohypophyseal; Neurophysin; Vasopressin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Diabetes Insipidus, Neurogenic / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Insipidus, Neurogenic / pathology
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / physiology
  • Glycopeptides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Protein Aggregates / physiology*
  • Proteolysis*
  • Vasopressins / metabolism


  • Glycopeptides
  • Protein Aggregates
  • Vasopressins