HEPES-buffering of bicarbonate-containing culture medium perturbs lysosomal glucocerebrosidase activity

Martijn J. C. van der Lienden, Jan Aten, Rolf G. Boot, Marco van Eijk, Johannes M. F. G. Aerts, Chi-Lin Kuo

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Glucocerebrosidase (GCase), encoded by the GBA gene, degrades the ubiquitous glycosphingolipid glucosylceramide. Inherited GCase deficiency causes Gaucher disease (GD). In addition, carriers of an abnormal GBA allele are at increased risk for Parkinson's disease. GCase undergoes extensive modification of its four N-glycans en route to and inside the lysosome that is reflected in changes in molecular weight as detected with sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Fluorescent activity-based probes (ABPs) that covalently label GCase in reaction-based manner in vivo and in vitro allow sensitive visualization of GCase molecules. Using these ABPs, we studied the life cycle of GCase in cultured fibroblasts and macrophage-like RAW264.7 cells. Specific attention was paid to the impact of 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazineethanesulfonic acid (HEPES) supplementation to bicarbonate-buffered medium. Here, we report how HEPES-buffered medium markedly influences processing of GCase, its lysosomal degradation, and the total cellular enzyme level. HEPES-containing medium was also found to reduce maturation of other lysosomal enzymes (α-glucosidase and β-glucuronidase) in cells. The presence of HEPES in bicarbonate containing medium increases GCase activity in GD-patient derived fibroblasts, illustrating how the supplementation of HEPES complicates the use of cultured cells for diagnosing GD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-905
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of cellular biochemistry
Issue number5
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Gaucher disease
  • cell culture medium
  • diagnosis
  • glucocerebrosidase
  • glucosylsphingosine
  • lysosome

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