JCI Insight. 2023 Nov 16:e162621. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.162621. Online ahead of print.
Syndromic ciliopathies and retinal degenerations are large heterogeneous groups of genetic diseases. Pathogenic variants in the CFAP418 gene may cause both disorders, and its protein sequence is evolutionarily conserved. However, the disease mechanism underlying CFAP418 mutations has not been explored. Here, we apply quantitative lipidomic, proteomic, and phosphoproteomic profiling and affinity purification coupled with mass spectrometry to address the molecular function of CFAP418 in retinas. We show that CFAP418 protein binds to lipid metabolism precursor phosphatidic acid (PA) and mitochondrion-specific lipid cardiolipin but does not form a tight and static complex with proteins. Loss of Cfap418 in mice disturbs membrane lipid homeostasis and membrane-protein association, which subsequently causes mitochondrial defects and membrane remodeling abnormalities across multiple vesicular trafficking pathways in photoreceptors, especially the endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT) pathway. Ablation of Cfap418 also increases the activity of PA-binding protein kinase Cα in the retina. Overall, our results indicate that membrane lipid imbalance is a pathological mechanism underlying syndromic ciliopathies and retinal degenerations, which is associated with other known causative genes of these diseases.