Approaches for Detecting Lysosomal Alkalinization and Impaired Degradation in Fresh and Cultured RPE Cells: Evidence for a Role in Retinal Degenerations

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Departmental Papers (Dental)
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Aging; Alzheimer's disease; Autophagy; Cathepsin D; Lipofuscin; Lysosome; Retinal pigmented epithelium
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Guha, Sonia
Coffey, Erin E.
Lu, Wennan
Lim, Jason C.
Beckel, Jonathan M.
Laties, Alan M.
Boesze-Battaglia, Kathleen
Mitchell, Claire H.

Lysosomes contribute to a multitude of cellular processes, and the pH of the lysosomal lumen plays a central mechanistic role in many of these functions. In addition to controlling the rate of enzymatic degradation for material delivered through autophagic or phagocytotic pathways, lysosomal pH regulates events such as lysosomal fusion with autophagosomes and the release of lysosomal calcium into the cytoplasm. Disruption of either the steady state lysosomal pH or of the regulated manipulations to lysosomal pH may be pathological. For example, chloroquine elevates the lysosomal pH of retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells and triggers a retinopathy characterized by the accumulation of lipofuscin-like material in both humans and animals. Compensatory responses to restore lysosomal pH are observed; new data illustrate that chronic chloroquine treatment increases mRNA expression of the lysosomal/autophagy master transcription factor TcFEB and of the vesicular proton pump vHATPase in the RPE/choroid of mice. An elevated lysosomal pH with upregulation of TcFEB and vHATPase resembles the pathology in fibroblasts of patients with mutant presenilin 1 (PS1), suggesting a common link between age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Alzheimer's disease. While the absolute rise in pH is often small in these disorders, elevations of only a few tenths of a pH unit can have a major impact on both lysosomal function and the accumulation of waste over decades. Accurate measurement of lysosomal pH can be complex, and imprecise measurements have clouded the field. Protocols to optimize pH measurement from fresh and cultured cells are discussed, and indirect measurements to confirm changes in lysosomal pH and degradative capacity are addressed. The ability of reacidifying treatments to restore degradative function confirms the central role of lysosomal pH in these disorders and identifies potential approaches to treat diseases of lysosomal accumulation like AMD and Alzheimer's disease. In summary, various approaches to determine lysosomal pH in fresh and cultured cells, as well as the potential to restore pH levels to an optimal range, can help identify and repair pathologies associated with lysosomal defects in RPE cells and perhaps also suggest new approaches to treat lysosomal storage diseases throughout the body. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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Experimental Eye Research
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