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Lysosomal storage disorders are individually rare but collectively common, affecting 1 in around 7,000 people. The more than 50 disorders identified so far share little by way of symptoms, but the one thing that unites them is that they all involve some fault with the lysosome — the cell’s recycling centre. The study of these diseases is not only leading to better treatments, but also revealing many of the secrets of this underappreciated organelle.
Lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) highlight the diverse ways in which the failure of a single organelle can bring cells to their knees. Most are rare and poorly understood, making the development of therapies a daunting task.
It is now feasible to test babies for several lysosomal storage disorders, but this goes against the gold standard for screening that was established nearly 50 years ago. The ethical issues raised are forcing a rethink of the way that newborns are screened.
As well as degrading and recycling cellular waste, lysosomes are involved in secretion, plasma membrane repair, signalling and energy metabolism. The identification of transcription factor EB (TFEB) as a central regulator of lysosomal biogenesis and autophagy provides insight into how lysosomes adapt to environmental cues, and targeting TFEB may be a promising therapeutic strategy for modulating lysosomal function in disease.
De Leo et al. identify a lysosomal response to autophagic cargo during lysosome–autophagosome fusion that involves TLR9 activation and OCRL recruitment, and leads to a regulated local increase in PtdIns(4,5)P2, which is necessary for a normal autophagic flux.
The concept of lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) has existed for over 50 years, but our understanding of the causes and pathobiology of these diseases have come to light only recently, following advances in genetic technology. In this Review, Rose-Mary Boustany summarizes current understanding of known LSDs, highlighting existing treatment approaches for patients with these often devastating disorders, and outlining the barriers to development of novel therapies.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) damage cell components, necessitating their clearance through autophagy. Here, the authors show that ROS can induce autophagy by triggering TRPML1 to release Ca2+from the lysosomal lumen, in turn activating the autophagy and lysosomal biogenesis regulator TFEB.
Medina, Ballabio and colleagues report that calcium release from the lysosome stimulates calcineurin, which dephosphorylates and activates TFEB. These findings reveal a central role for calcium signalling in autophagy and lysosome homeostasis.