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Gaucher disease protects against tuberculosis.

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Fan, Jingwen 
Hale, Victoria L 
Lelieveld, Lindsey T 
Busch-Nentwich, Elisabeth M 


Biallelic mutations in the glucocerebrosidase (GBA1) gene cause Gaucher disease, characterized by lysosomal accumulation of glucosylceramide and glucosylsphingosine in macrophages. Gaucher and other lysosomal diseases occur with high frequency in Ashkenazi Jews. It has been proposed that the underlying mutations confer a selective advantage, in particular conferring protection against tuberculosis. Here, using a zebrafish Gaucher disease model, we find that the mutation GBA1 N370S, predominant among Ashkenazi Jews, increases resistance to tuberculosis through the microbicidal activity of glucosylsphingosine in macrophage lysosomes. Consistent with lysosomal accumulation occurring only in homozygotes, heterozygotes remain susceptible to tuberculosis. Thus, our findings reveal a mechanistic basis for protection against tuberculosis by GBA1 N370S and provide biological plausibility for its selection if the relatively mild deleterious effects in homozygotes were offset by significant protection against tuberculosis, a rampant killer of the young in Europe through the Middle Ages into the 19th century.



Gaucher disease, lysosomal glucosylsphingosine, macrophages, tuberculosis resistance, zebrafish, Animals, Gaucher Disease, Zebrafish, Glucosylceramidase, Mutation, Tuberculosis

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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
National Institutes of Health (NIH) (7R37A1054503-13)
Wellcome Trust (223103/Z/21/Z)
National Institute for Health Research (IS-BRC-1215-20014)