Chorea-Acanthocytosis (ChAc) is a devastating, little understood, and currently untreatable neurodegenerative disease caused by VPS13A mutations. Based on our recent demonstration that accumulation of activated Lyn tyrosine kinase is a key pathophysiological event in human ChAc cells, we took advantage of Vps13a-/- mice, which phenocopied human ChAc. Using proteomic approach, we found accumulation of active Lyn, γ-synuclein and phospho-tau proteins in Vps13a-/- basal ganglia secondary to impaired autophagy leading to neuroinflammation. Mice double knockout Vps13a-/- Lyn-/- showed normalization of red cell morphology and improvement of autophagy in basal ganglia. We then in vivo tested pharmacologic inhibitors of Lyn: dasatinib and nilotinib. Dasatinib failed to cross the mouse brain blood barrier (BBB), but the more specific Lyn kinase inhibitor nilotinib, crosses the BBB. Nilotinib ameliorates both Vps13a-/- hematological and neurological phenotypes, improving autophagy and preventing neuroinflammation. Our data support the proposal to repurpose nilotinib as new therapeutic option for ChAc patients.
Keywords: Basal ganglia; Cell signaling; Chorein; Lyn; Neurodegeneration.