, Volume 88, Issue 5, pp 513-523

Quantitative correlation between the residual activity of β-hexosaminidase A and arylsulfatase A and the severity of the resulting lysosomal storage disease

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A previously suggested model for the correlation between residual activity of a lysosomal enzyme and the turnover rate of its substrate(s) has been extended to a discussion of substrate accumulation rates in individual cells and whole organs. With these considerations, much of the observed variability in age of onset and clinical phenotype, as well as the phenomenon of pseudodeficiency, can be understood as the consequences of small differences in the residual activity of the affected enzyme. In order to experimentally verify the basic assumptions on which this model rests, studies were performed in cell culture. The radiolabeled substrates ganglioside GM2 and sulfatide were added to cultures of skin fibroblasts with different activities of β-hexosaminidase A or arylsulfatase A, respectively, and their uptake and turnover measured. In both series of experiments, the correlation between residual enzyme activity and the turnover rate of the substrate was essentially as predicted: degradation increased steeply with residual activity, to reach the control level at a residual activity of approximately 10–15% of normal. All cells with an activity above this critical threshold had a normal turnover. Comparison of the results of these feeding studies with the clinical status of the donor of each cell line basically confirmed our notions but also revealed the limitations of the cell culture approach.