Structural and functional analysis of the ASM p.Ala359Asp mutant that causes acid sphingomyelinase deficiency

Mariana Acuña, Víctor Castro-Fernández, Mauricio Latorre, Juan Castro, Edward H. Schuchman, Victoria Guixé, Mauricio González, Silvana Zanlungo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Niemann-Pick disease (NPD) type A and B are recessive hereditary disorders caused by deficiency in acid sphingomyelinase (ASM). The p.Ala359Asp mutation has been described in several patients but its functional and structural effects in the protein are unknown. In order to characterize this mutation, we modeled the three-dimensional ASM structure using the recent available crystal of the mammalian ASM as a template. We found that the p.Ala359Asp mutation is localized in the hydrophobic core and far from the sphingomyelin binding site. However, energy function calculations using statistical potentials indicate that the mutation causes a decrease in ASM stability. Therefore, we investigated the functional effect of the p.Ala359Asp mutation in ASM expression, secretion, localization and activity in human fibroblasts. We found a 3.8% residual ASM activity compared to the wild-type enzyme, without changes in the other parameters evaluated. These results support the hypothesis that the p.Ala359Asp mutation causes structural alterations in the hydrophobic environment where ASM is located, decreasing its enzymatic activity. A similar effect was observed in other previously described NPDB mutations located outside the active site of the enzyme. This work shows the first full size ASM mutant model describe at date, providing a complete analysis of the structural and functional effects of the p.Ala359Asp mutation over the stability and activity of the enzyme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-501
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number3
StatePublished - 21 Oct 2016


  • Acid sphingomylienase
  • Niemann-pick disease
  • SMPD1 mutations
  • p.Ala359Asp


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