PSENEN/PEN2 is the smallest subunit of the γ-secretase complex, an intramembrane protease that cleaves proteins within their transmembrane domains. Mutations in components of the γ-secretase underlie familial Alzheimer disease. In addition to its proteolytic activity, supplementary, γ-secretase independent, functions in the macroautophagy/autophagy-lysosome system have been proposed. Here, we screened for PSENEN-interacting proteins and identified CLN3. Mutations in CLN3 are causative for juvenile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, a rare lysosomal storage disorder considered the most common neurodegenerative disease in children. As mutations in the PSENEN and CLN3 genes cause different neurodegenerative diseases, understanding shared cellular functions of both proteins might be pertinent for understanding general cellular mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration. We hypothesized that CLN3 modulates γ-secretase activity and that PSENEN and CLN3 play associated roles in the autophagy-lysosome system. We applied CRISPR gene-editing and obtained independent isogenic HeLa knockout cell lines for PSENEN and CLN3. Following previous studies, we demonstrate that PSENEN is essential for forming a functional γ-secretase complex and is indispensable for γ-secretase activity. In contrast, CLN3 does not modulate γ-secretase activity to a significant degree. We observed in PSENEN- and CLN3-knockout cells corresponding alterations in the autophagy-lysosome system. These include reduced activity of lysosomal enzymes and lysosome number, an increased number of autophagosomes, increased lysosome-autophagosome fusion, and elevated levels of TFEB (transcription factor EB). Our study strongly suggests converging roles of PSENEN and CLN3 in the autophagy-lysosome system in a γ-secretase activity-independent manner, supporting the idea of common cytopathological processes underlying different neurodegenerative diseases.Abbreviations: Aβ, amyloid-beta; AD, Alzheimer disease; APP, amyloid precursor protein; ATP5MC, ATP synthase membrane subunit c; DQ-BSA, dye-quenched bovine serum albumin; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; GFP, green fluorescent protein; ICC, immunocytochemistry; ICD, intracellular domain; JNCL, juvenile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis; KO, knockout; LC3, microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3; NCL, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses; PSEN, presenilin; PSENEN/PEN2: presenilin enhancer, gamma-secretase subunit; TAP, tandem affinity purification; TEV, tobacco etch virus; TF, transferrin; WB, Western blot; WT, wild type.
Keywords: Alzheimer disease; cln3 disease; knockout cells; neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis; transcription factor eb; γ-secretase.