[National Science Review] SNX14 deficiency-induced defective axonal mitochondrial transport in Purkinje cells underlies cerebellar ataxia and can be reversed by valproate
Abstract: Loss-of-function mutations in SNX14 cause autosomal recessive spinocerebellar ataxia 20, which is a form of early-onset cerebellar ataxia that lacks molecular mechanisms and mouse models. We generated Snx14-deficient mouse models and observed severe motor deficits and cell-autonomous Purkinje cell degeneration. SNX14 deficiency disrupted microtubule organization and mitochondrial transport in axons by destabilizing the microtubule-severing enzyme spastin, which is implicated in dominant hereditary spastic paraplegia with cerebellar ataxia, and compromised axonal integrity and mitochondrial function. Axonal transport disruption and mitochondrial dysfunction further led to degeneration of high-energy-demanding Purkinje cells, which resulted in the pathogenesis of cerebellar ataxia. The antiepileptic drug valproate ameliorated motor deficits and cerebellar degeneration in Snx14-deficient mice via the restoration of mitochondrial transport and function in Purkinje cells. Our study revealed an unprecedented role for SNX14-dependent axonal transport in cerebellar ataxia, demonstrated the convergence of SNX14 and spastin in mitochondrial dysfunction, and suggests valproate as a potential therapeutic agent.