The genetic bases for the congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) continue to expand, but how glycosylation defects cause patient phenotypes remains largely unknown. Here, we combined developmental phenotyping and biochemical studies in a potentially new zebrafish model (pmm2sa10150) of PMM2-CDG to uncover a protease-mediated pathogenic mechanism relevant to craniofacial and motility phenotypes in mutant embryos. Mutant embryos had reduced phosphomannomutase activity and modest decreases in N-glycan occupancy as detected by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry imaging. Cellular analyses of cartilage defects in pmm2sa10150 embryos revealed a block in chondrogenesis that was associated with defective proteolytic processing, but seemingly normal N-glycosylation, of the cell adhesion molecule N-cadherin. The activities of the proconvertases and matrix metalloproteinases responsible for N-cadherin maturation were significantly altered in pmm2sa10150 mutant embryos. Importantly, pharmacologic and genetic manipulation of proconvertase activity restored matrix metalloproteinase activity, N-cadherin processing, and cartilage pathology in pmm2sa10150 embryos. Collectively, these studies demonstrate in CDG that targeted alterations in protease activity create a pathogenic cascade that affects the maturation of cell adhesion proteins critical for tissue development.
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