Evidence of Alternative Cystatin C Signal Sequence Cleavage Which Is Influenced by the A25T Polymorphism

Annie Nguyen, John D. Hulleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cystatin C (Cys C) is a small, potent, cysteine protease inhibitor. An Ala25Thr (A25T) polymorphism in Cys C has been associated with both macular degeneration and late-onset Alzheimer's disease. Previously, studies have suggested that this polymorphism may compromise the secretion of Cys C. Interestingly, we found that untagged A25T, A25T tagged C-terminally with FLAG, or A25T FLAG followed by green fluorescent protein (GFP), were all secreted as efficiently from immortalized human cells as their wild-type (WT) counterparts (e.g., 112%, 100%, and 88% of WT levels from HEK-293T cells, respectively). Supporting these observations, WT and A25T Cys C variants also showed similar intracellular steady state levels. Furthermore, A25T Cys C did not activate the unfolded protein response and followed the same canonical endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-Golgi trafficking pathway as WT Cys C. WT Cys C has been shown to undergo signal sequence cleavage between residues Gly26 and Ser27. While the A25T polymorphism did not affect Cys C secretion, we hypothesized that it may alter where the Cys C signal sequence is preferentially cleaved. Under normal conditions, WT and A25T Cys C have the same signal sequence cleavage site after Gly26 (referred to as 'site 2' cleavage). However, in particular circumstances when the residues around site 2 are modified (such as by the presence of an N-terminal FLAG tag immediately after Gly26, or by a Gly26Lys (G26K) mutation), A25T has a significantly higher likelihood than WT Cys C of alternative signal sequence cleavage after Ala20 ('site 1') or even earlier in the Cys C sequence. Overall, our results indicate that the A25T polymorphism does not cause a significant reduction in Cys C secretion, but instead predisposes the protein to be cleaved at an alternative signal sequence cleavage site if site 2 is hindered. Additional N-terminal amino acids resulting from alternative signal sequence cleavage may, in turn, affect the protease inhibition function of Cys C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0147684
JournalPLoS One
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Fingerprint

Cystatin C
cystatins
Protein Sorting Signals
signal peptide
Polymorphism
polymorphism
genetic polymorphism
secretion
unfolded protein response
Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors
Unfolded Protein Response
cysteine proteinase inhibitors
HEK293 Cells
Macular Degeneration
Alzheimer disease
Green Fluorescent Proteins
green fluorescent protein
Endoplasmic Reticulum
endoplasmic reticulum
Alzheimer Disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Evidence of Alternative Cystatin C Signal Sequence Cleavage Which Is Influenced by the A25T Polymorphism. / Nguyen, Annie; Hulleman, John D.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 11, No. 2, e0147684, 01.02.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Cystatin C (Cys C) is a small, potent, cysteine protease inhibitor. An Ala25Thr (A25T) polymorphism in Cys C has been associated with both macular degeneration and late-onset Alzheimer's disease. Previously, studies have suggested that this polymorphism may compromise the secretion of Cys C. Interestingly, we found that untagged A25T, A25T tagged C-terminally with FLAG, or A25T FLAG followed by green fluorescent protein (GFP), were all secreted as efficiently from immortalized human cells as their wild-type (WT) counterparts (e.g., 112{\%}, 100{\%}, and 88{\%} of WT levels from HEK-293T cells, respectively). Supporting these observations, WT and A25T Cys C variants also showed similar intracellular steady state levels. Furthermore, A25T Cys C did not activate the unfolded protein response and followed the same canonical endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-Golgi trafficking pathway as WT Cys C. WT Cys C has been shown to undergo signal sequence cleavage between residues Gly26 and Ser27. While the A25T polymorphism did not affect Cys C secretion, we hypothesized that it may alter where the Cys C signal sequence is preferentially cleaved. Under normal conditions, WT and A25T Cys C have the same signal sequence cleavage site after Gly26 (referred to as 'site 2' cleavage). However, in particular circumstances when the residues around site 2 are modified (such as by the presence of an N-terminal FLAG tag immediately after Gly26, or by a Gly26Lys (G26K) mutation), A25T has a significantly higher likelihood than WT Cys C of alternative signal sequence cleavage after Ala20 ('site 1') or even earlier in the Cys C sequence. Overall, our results indicate that the A25T polymorphism does not cause a significant reduction in Cys C secretion, but instead predisposes the protein to be cleaved at an alternative signal sequence cleavage site if site 2 is hindered. Additional N-terminal amino acids resulting from alternative signal sequence cleavage may, in turn, affect the protease inhibition function of Cys C.",
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