Late-infantile ceroid-lipofuscinosis: lysine methylation of mitochondrial ATP synthase subunit c from lysosomal storage bodies.
Late-infantile ceroid-lipofuscinosis is a fatal autosomal recessively inherited disease characterized by massive accumulations of lysosomal storage bodies in many tissues. A major constituent of the storage bodies is the subunit c protein of mitochondrial ATP synthase. Juvenile ceroid-lipofuscinosis, a disease that is similar to but genetically distinct from the late-infantile disorder, also involves lysosomal accumulation of the subunit c protein. In the juvenile disease, the stored form of the protein contains an epsilon-N-trimethyllysine (TML) residue at position 43. Analyses were performed to determine whether subunit c protein stored in the late-infantile disease is also trimethylated at lysine residue 43. Amino acid composition analysis of the subunit c protein stored in brains from subjects with the late-infantile disease indicated that one of the two lysine residues in the protein is trimethylated. Data from molecular mass analysis of the protein was consistent with the presence of three methyl groups not present in the unmodified protein. The TML in the storage body subunit c protein was found by amino acid sequence analysis to occur exclusively at residue 43. The lysine at this position in the stored protein was completely methylated. Recent studies suggest that the subunit c protein from normal mitochondria may also have the same amino acid modification. Thus, it appears that specific methylation of lysine residue 43 of mitochondrial ATP synthase subunit c is probably a normal post-translational modification, and that the lysosomal storage of this protein in late-infantile, as well as in juvenile ceroid-lipofuscinosis, does not result from a defect in its methylation.