Autophagy Inhibitors Do Not Restore Peroxisomal Functions in Cells With the Most Common Peroxisome Biogenesis Defect

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Peroxisome biogenesis disorders within the Zellweger spectrum (PBD-ZSDs) are most frequently associated with the c.2528G>A (p.G843D) mutation in the PEX1 gene (PEX1-G843D), which results in impaired import of peroxisomal matrix proteins and, consequently, defective peroxisomal functions. A recent study suggested that treatment with autophagy inhibitors, in particular hydroxychloroquine, would be a potential therapeutic option for PBD-ZSD patients carrying the PEX1-G843D mutation. Here, we studied whether autophagy inhibition by chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and 3-methyladenine indeed can improve peroxisomal functions in four different cell types with the PEX1-G843D mutation, including primary patient cells. Furthermore, we studied whether autophagy inhibition may be the mechanism underlying the previously reported improvement of peroxisomal functions by L-arginine in PEX1-G843D cells. In contrast to L-arginine, we observed no improvement but a worsening of peroxisomal metabolic functions and peroxisomal matrix protein import by the autophagy inhibitors, while genetic knock-down of ATG5 and NBR1 in primary patient cells resulted in only a minimal improvement. Our results do not support the use of autophagy inhibitors as potential treatment for PBD-ZSD patients, whereas L-arginine remains a therapeutically promising compound.
Original languageEnglish
Article number661298
JournalFrontiers in cell and developmental biology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • L-arginine
  • Zellweger spectrum disorder
  • autophagy inhibitors
  • chloroquine
  • hydroxychloroquine
  • peroxisomal functions
  • peroxisome biogenesis disorder
  • pexophagy

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