SLC35D3 increases autophagic activity in mid-brain dopaminergic neurons by enhancing the BECN1-ATG14-PIK3C3 complex formation
Searching for new regulators of autophagy involved in selective dopaminergic (DA) neuron loss is a hallmark in the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease (PD). We here report that an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated transmembrane protein SLC35D3 is selectively expressed in subsets of midbrain DA neurons in about 10% TH (tyrosine hydroxylase)-positive neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) and in about 22% TH-positive neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Loss of SLC35D3 in ros (roswell mutant) mice showed a reduction of 11.9% DA neurons in the SNc and 15.5% DA neuron loss in the VTA with impaired autophagy. We determined that SLC35D3 enhanced the formation of the BECN1-ATG14-PIK3C3 complex to induce autophagy. These results suggest that SLC35D3 is a new regulator of tissue-specific autophagy and plays an important role in the increased autophagic activity required for the survival of subsets of DA neurons.