Molecular genetics and metabolism

Investigation of Batten disease with the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

PMID 10191120


The CLN3 gene, which encodes the protein whose absence is responsible for Batten disease, the most common inherited neurovisceral storage disease of childhood, was identified in 1995. The function of the protein, Cln3p, still remains elusive. We previously cloned the Saccharomyces cerevisiae homolog to the human CLN3 gene, designated BTN1, whose product is 39% identical and 59% similar to Cln3p. We report that yeast strains lacking Btn1p, btn1-Delta deletion yeast strains, are more resistant to d-(-)-threo-2-amino-1-[p-nitrophenyl]-1,3-propanediol (ANP), in a pH-dependent manner. This phenotype is complemented in yeast by the human CLN3 gene. In addition, point mutations characterized in CLN3 from individuals with less severe forms of Batten disease, when introduced into BTN1, altered the degree of ANP resistance. Severity of Batten disease due to mutations in CLN3 and the degree of ANP resistance in yeast are related when the equivalent amino acid replacements in Cln3p and Btn1p are compared. These results indicate that yeast can be used as a model for the study of Batten disease.