Lowe syndrome patient cells display mTOR- and RhoGTPase-dependent phenotypes alleviated by rapamycin and statins

Kayalvizhi Madhivanan, Swetha Ramadesikan, Wen Chieh Hsieh, Mariana C. Aguilar, Claudia B. Hanna, Robert L. Bacallao, R. Claudio Aguilar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Lowe syndrome (LS) is an X-linked developmental disease characterized by cognitive deficiencies, bilateral congenital cataracts and renal dysfunction. Unfortunately, this disease leads to the early death of affected children often due to kidney failure. Although this condition was first described in the early 1950s and the affected gene (OCRL1) was identified in the early 1990s, its pathophysiological mechanism is not fully understood and there is no LS-specific cure available to patients. Here we report two important signaling pathways affected in LS patient cells. While RhoGTPase signaling abnormalities led to adhesion and spreading defects as compared to normal controls, PI3K/mTOR hyperactivation interfered with primary cilia assembly (scenario also observed in other ciliopathies with compromised kidney function). Importantly, we identified two FDA-approved drugs able to ameliorate these phenotypes. Specifically, statins mitigated adhesion and spreading abnormalities while rapamycin facilitated ciliogenesis in LS patient cells. However, no single drug was able to alleviate both phenotypes. Based on these and other observations, we speculate that Ocrl1 has dual, independent functions supporting proper RhoGTPase and PI3K/mTOR signaling. Therefore, this study suggest that Ocrl1-deficiency leads to signaling defects likely to require combinatorial drug treatment to suppress patient phenotypes and symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1700-1715
Number of pages16
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jun 27 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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