Canine hereditary ceroid-lipofuscinosis: evidence for a defect in the carnitine biosynthetic pathway.
The ceroid-lipofuscinoses are a group of autosomal-recessive hereditary lysosomal storage diseases that have been characterized in humans and other mammalian species. In a canine model for the juvenile form of the human disease, a major constituent of the storage bodies is the subunit c protein of mitochondrial ATP synthase that contains an epsilon-N-trimethyllysine (TML) residue. TML is a precursor in carnitine biosynthesis. To determine whether accumulation of the TML-containing protein could result from a defect in the carnitine biosynthetic pathway, plasma carnitine and trimethyllysine levels were measured in homozygous affected, heterozygous carriers, and in normal dogs. When compared top normal animals, mean carnitine levels were reduced by 67% in affected and 50% in carrier dogs. Mean plasma TML levels were elevated almost 50% above control levels in the carriers, but were decreased by approximately 25% in the affected animals. The changes in plasma carnitine and TML levels in the carriers are consistent with the possibility that the disease involves a defect in the carnitine biosynthetic pathway. Secondary effects of the disease process may account for the apparently contradictory decrease in plasma TML levels in affected animals.