The neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses are a group of recessively inherited, childhood-onset neurodegenerative conditions. Several forms are caused by mutations in genes encoding putative lysosomal membrane proteins. Studies of the cell biology underpinning these disorders are hampered by the poor antigenicity of the membrane proteins, which makes visualisation of the endogenous proteins difficult. We have used Drosophila to generate knock-in YFP-fusions for two of the NCL membrane proteins: CLN7 and CLN3. The YFP-fusions are expressed at endogenous levels and the proteins can be visualised live without the need for overexpression. Unexpectedly, both CLN7 and CLN3 have restricted expression in the CNS of Drosophila larva and are predominantly expressed in the glia that form the insect blood-brain-barrier. CLN7 is also expressed in neurons in the developing visual system. As in mice, Drosophila CLN3 is strongly expressed in the excretory and osmoregulatory Malpighian tubules but the knock-in reveals unexpected localisation of the protein to the apical domain adjacent to the lumen. In addition, some CLN3 protein in the tubules is localized within mitochondria. Our in vivo imaging of CLN7 and CLN3 suggests new possibilities for function and promotes new ideas about the cell biology of the NCLs.
- neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis
- Batten disease