Differential mechanisms of action of the mucolipin synthetic agonist, ML-SA1, on insect TRPML and mammalian TRPML1

Xinghua Feng, Jian Xiong, Yungang Lu, Xuefeng Xia, Michael X. Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Mucolipin synthetic agonist 1 (ML-SA1) was recently identified to activate mammalian TRPML channels and shown to alleviate lipid accumulation in lysosomes of cellular models of lysosome storage diseases, mucolipidosis type IV (MLIV) and Niemann-Pick's disease type C (NPC). Owning to its potential use in complimenting genetic studies in Drosophila melanogaster to elucidate the cellular and physiological functions of TRPML channels, we examined the effect of ML-SA1 on Drosophila TRPML expressed in HEK293 cells using whole-cell, inside-out, and whole-lysosome electrophysiological recordings. We previously showed that when expressed in HEK293 cells, Drosophila TRPML was localized and functional on both plasma membrane and endolysosome. We show here that in both inside-out patches excised from the plasma membrane and whole-lysosome recordings from enlarged endolysosome vacuoles, ML-SA1 failed to activate TRPML unless exogenous phosphatidylinositol 3,5-bisphosphate [PI(3,5)P2] was applied. At 1μM ML-SA1, the sensitivity of TRPML to PI(3,5)P2 increased approximately by 10-fold and at 10μM ML-SA1, the deactivation of PI(3,5)P2-evoked TRPML currents was markedly slowed. On the other hand, constitutive activation of TRPML by a mutation that mimics the varitint-waddler (Va) mutation of mouse TRPML3 rendered the insect channel sensitive to activation by ML-SA1 alone. Moreover, different from the insect TRPML, mouse TRPML1 was readily activated by ML-SA1 independent of PI(3,5)P2. Thus, our data reveal that while ML-SA1 acts as a true agonist at mouse TRPML1, it behaves as an allosteric activator of the Drosophila TRPML, showing dependence on and the ability to stabilize open conformation of the insect channels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-456
Number of pages11
JournalCell Calcium
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014


  • Allosteric activator
  • Calcium
  • Lysosome storage disease
  • Neurodegeneration
  • TRP channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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