Synaptojanin 1 (SJ1) is a major presynaptic phosphatase that couples synaptic vesicle endocytosis to the dephosphorylation of PI(4,5)P2, a reaction needed for the shedding of endocytic factors from their membranes. While the role of SJ1's 5-phosphatase module in this process is well recognized, the contribution of its Sac phosphatase domain, whose preferred substrate is PI4P, remains unclear. Recently a homozygous mutation in its Sac domain was identified in early-onset parkinsonism patients. We show that mice carrying this mutation developed neurological manifestations similar to those of human patients. Synapses of these mice displayed endocytic defects and a striking accumulation of clathrin-coated intermediates, strongly implicating Sac domain's activity in endocytic protein dynamics. Mutant brains had elevated auxilin (PARK19) and parkin (PARK2) levels. Moreover, dystrophic axonal terminal changes were selectively observed in dopaminergic axons in the dorsal striatum. These results strengthen evidence for a link between synaptic endocytic dysfunction and Parkinson's disease.
Clathrin-coated vesicles are known to play diverse and pivotal roles in cells. The proper formation of clathrin-coated vesicles is dependent on, and highly regulated by, a large number of clathrin assembly proteins. These assembly proteins likely determine the functional specificity of clathrin-coated vesicles, and together they control a multitude of intracellular trafficking pathways, including those involved in embryonic development. In this study, we focus on two closely related clathrin assembly proteins, AP180 and CALM (clathrin assembly lymphoid myeloid leukemia protein), in the developing embryonic rat brain. We find that AP180 begins to be expressed at embryonic day 14 (E14), but only in postmitotic cells that have acquired a neuronal fate. CALM, on the other hand, is expressed as early as E12, by both neural stem cells and postmitotic neurons. In vitro loss-of-function studies using RNA interference (RNAi) indicate that AP180 and CALM are dispensable for some aspects of embryonic neurogenesis but are required for the growth of postmitotic neurons. These results identify the developmental stage of AP180 and CALM expression and suggest that each protein has distinct functions in neural development.