Inhibition of the dopamine transporter promotes lysosome biogenesis and ameliorates Alzheimer's disease-like symptoms in mice

Alzheimers Dement. 2022 Sep 21. doi: 10.1002/alz.12776. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Lysosomes are degradative organelles that maintain cellular homeostasis and protein quality control. Transcription factor EB (TFEB)-mediated lysosome biogenesis enhances lysosome-dependent degradation and alleviates neurodegenerative diseases, but the mechanisms underlying TFEB regulation and modification are still poorly understood.

Methods: By screening novel small-molecule compounds, we identified a group of lysosome-enhancing compounds (LYECs) that promote TFEB activation and lysosome biogenesis.

Results: One of these compounds, LH2-051, significantly inhibited the function of the dopamine transporter (DAT) and subsequently promoted lysosome biogenesis. We uncovered cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) as a novel regulator of DAT-mediated lysosome biogenesis and identified six novel CDK9-phosphorylated sites on TFEB. We observed that signal transduction by the DAT-CDK9-TFEB axis occurs on lysosomes. Finally, we found that LH2-051 enhanced the degradation of amyloid beta plaques and improved the memory of amyloid precursor protein (APP)/Presenilin 1 (PS1) mice.

Discussion: We identified the DAT-CDK9-TFEB signaling axis as a novel regulator of lysosome biogenesis. Our study sheds light on the mechanisms of protein quality control under pathophysiological conditions.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; CDK9; TFEB; dopamine transporter; lysosome biogenesis.