Ventriculomegaly and hydrocephalus are associated with loss of function of glycine decarboxylase (Gldc) in mice and in humans suffering from Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH), a neurometabolic disorder characterised by accumulation of excess glycine. Here, we showed that ventriculomegaly in Gldc-deficient mice is preceded by stenosis of the Sylvian aqueduct and malformation or absence of the sub-commissural organ and pineal gland. Gldc functions in the glycine cleavage system, a mitochondrial component of folate metabolism, whose malfunction results in accumulation of glycine and diminished supply of glycine-derived one-carbon units to the folate cycle. We showed that inadequate one-carbon supply, as opposed to excess glycine is the cause of hydrocephalus associated with loss of function of the glycine cleavage system. Maternal supplementation with formate prevented both ventriculomegaly, as assessed at pre-natal stages, and post-natal development of hydrocephalus in Gldc-deficient mice. Furthermore, ventriculomegaly was rescued by genetic ablation of 5,10-methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (Mthfr), which results in retention of one-carbon groups in the folate cycle at the expense of transfer to the methylation cycle. In conclusion, a defect in folate metabolism can lead to pre-natal aqueduct stenosis and resultant hydrocephalus. These defects are preventable by maternal supplementation with formate, which acts as a one-carbon donor.
Chloe Santos, Yun Jin Pai, M. Raasib Mahmood, Kit-Yi Leung, Dawn Savery, Simon N. Waddington, Andrew J. Copp, Nicholas D.E. Greene