Characterization of LAMP1-labeled nondegradative lysosomal and endocytic compartments in neurons

Despite widespread distribution of LAMP1 and the heterogeneous nature of LAMP1-labeled compartments, LAMP1 is routinely used as a lysosomal marker, and LAMP1-positive organelles are often referred to as lysosomes. In this study, we use immunoelectron microscopy and confocal imaging to provide quantitative analysis of LAMP1 distribution in various autophagic and endolysosomal organelles in neurons. Our study demonstrates that a significant portion of LAMP1-labeled organelles do not contain detectable lysosomal hydrolases including cathepsins D and B and glucocerebrosidase. A bovine serum albumin–gold pulse–chase assay followed by ultrastructural analysis suggests a heterogeneity of degradative capacity in LAMP1-labeled endolysosomal organelles. Gradient fractionation displays differential distribution patterns of LAMP1/2 and cathepsins D/B in neurons. We further reveal that LAMP1 intensity in familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–linked motor neurons does not necessarily reflect lysosomal deficits in vivo. Our study suggests that labeling a set of lysosomal hydrolases combined with various endolysosomal markers would be more accurate than simply relying on LAMP1/2 staining to assess neuronal lysosome distribution, trafficking, and functionality under physiological and pathological conditions.

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