Spondylometaphyseal dysplasia with cone-rod dystrophy (SMD-CRD) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder of the skeleton and the retina caused by biallelic variants in PCYT1A, encoding the nuclear enzyme CTP:phosphocholine cytidylyltransferase α (CCTα), which catalyzes the rate-limiting step in phosphatidylcholine (PC) biosynthesis by the Kennedy pathway. As a first step in understanding the consequences of PCYT1A variants on SMD-CRD pathophysiology, we generated and characterized a series of cellular models for SMD-CRD, including CRISPR-edited PCYT1A-null HEK293 and ATDC5 cell lines. Immunoblot and PC synthesis assays of cultured skin fibroblasts from SMD-CRD patient cell lines revealed patient genotype-specific reductions in CCTα steady state levels (10-75% of wild-type) and choline incorporation into PC (22-54% of wild-type). While PCYT1A-null HEK293 cells exhibited fewer and larger lipid droplets in response to oleate loading than their wild-type counterparts, SMD-CRD patient fibroblasts (p.Ser323Argfs*38 homozygotes) failed to show significant differences in lipid droplet numbers or sizes as compared to controls. Lipid droplet phenotypes in PCYT1A-null HEK293 cells were rescued by transfection with wild-type, p.Ala99Val, and p.Tyr240His human PCYT1A cDNAs. While both edited cellular models had normal morphology and proliferation rates compared to unedited controls, Pcyt1a-null ATDC5 cells demonstrated accelerated rates of chondrocyte differentiation as compared to their wild-type counterparts. Lipidomics revealed changes in 75-200 lipid levels in PCYT1A-null HEK293 and ATDC5 cells or in SMD-CRD patient fibroblasts as compared to wild-type controls. The specific lipids altered and extent of change varied by cell type. Importantly, both PCYT1A-null HEK293 cells and SMD-CRD patient fibroblast cell lines had decreased phosphatidylcholine:phosphatidylethanolamine (PC:PE) ratios and decreased levels of several lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) species as compared to wild-type controls, suggesting compensatory PC production through increased LPC remodeling by LPCAT or decreased conversion of PC to LPC by phospholipase A2. Our results show that all tested PCYT1A alleles associated with SMD-CRD are hypomorphic and suggest involvement of PCYT1A in chondrocyte differentiation, PC:PE ratio maintenance and LPC metabolism, and lipid droplet formation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)