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Carnitine is a pharmacological allosteric chaperone of the human lysosomal α-glucosidase

posted on 13.01.2022, 17:02 by Roberta Iacono, Nadia Minopoli, Maria Carmina Ferrara, Antonietta Tarallo, Carla Damiano, Caterina Porto, Sandra Strollo, Véronique Roig-Zamboni, Gianfranco Peluso, Gerlind Sulzenbacher, Beatrice Cobucci-Ponzano, Giancarlo Parenti, Marco Moracci

Pompe disease is an inherited metabolic disorder due to the deficiency of the lysosomal acid α-glucosidase (GAA). The only approved treatment is enzyme replacement therapy with the recombinant enzyme (rhGAA). Further approaches like pharmacological chaperone therapy, based on the stabilising effect induced by small molecules on the target enzyme, could be a promising strategy. However, most known chaperones could be limited by their potential inhibitory effects on patient’s enzymes. Here we report on the discovery of novel chaperones for rhGAA, L- and D-carnitine, and the related compound acetyl-D-carnitine. These drugs stabilise the enzyme at pH and temperature without inhibiting the activity and acted synergistically with active-site directed pharmacological chaperones. Remarkably, they enhanced by 4-fold the acid α-glucosidase activity in fibroblasts from three Pompe patients with added rhGAA. This synergistic effect of L-carnitine and rhGAA has the potential to be translated into improved therapeutic efficacy of ERT in Pompe disease.


Nadia Minopoli is supported by PON Dottorati Innovativi con Caratterizzazione Industriale, Ministero Università e Ricerca (MIUR).