Genetic ablation of N-linked glycosylation reveals two key folding pathways for R345W fibulin-3, a secreted protein associated with retinal degeneration

John D. Hulleman, Jeffery W. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


An R345W mutation in the N-glycoprotein, fibulin-3 (F3), results in inefficient F3 folding/secretion and higher intracellular F3 levels. Inheritance of this mutation causes the retinal dystrophy malattia leventinese. N-Linked glycosylation is a common cotranslational protein modification that can regulate protein folding efficiency and energetics. Therefore, we explored how N-glycosylation alters the protein homeostasis or proteostasis of wild-type (WT) and R345W F3 in ARPE-19 cells. Enzymatic and lectin binding assays confirmed that WT and R345W F3 are both primarily N-glycosylated at Asn249. Tunicamycin treatment selectively reduced R345W F3 secretion by 87% (vs. WT F3). Genetic elimination of F3 N-glycosylation (via an N249Q mutation) caused R345W F3 to aggregate intracellularly and adopt an altered secreted conformation. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) chaperones GRP78 (glucose-regulated protein 78) and GRP94 (glucose-regulated protein 94), and the ER lectins calnexin and calreticulin were identified as F3 binding partners by immunoprecipitation. Significantly more N249Q and N249Q/R345W F3 interacted with GRP94, while substantially less N249Q and N249Q/R345W interacted with the ER lectins than their N-glycosylated counterparts. Inhibition of GRP94 ATPase activity reduced only N249Q/R345W F3 secretion (by 62%), demonstrating this variant's unique reliance on GRP94 for secretion. These observations suggest that R345W F3, but not WT F3, requires N-glycosylation to acquire a stable, native-like structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-575
Number of pages11
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2015



  • EFEMP1 endoplasmic reticulum
  • Malattia leventinese
  • Unfolded protein response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology

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