Unexpected intracellular localization of the AMD-associated cystatin C variant

Luminita Paraoan, Arjuna Ratnayaka, Dave G Spiller, Paul Hiscott, Michael R H White, Ian Grierson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Cystatin C is abundantly expressed by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of the eye. Targeting of cystatin C to the Golgi apparatus and processing through the secretory pathway of RPE cells are dependent upon a 26-amino acid signal sequence of precursor cystatin C. A variant with an alanine (A) to threonine (T) mutation in the penultimate amino acid of the signal sequence (A25T) was recently correlated with increased risk of developing exudative age-related macular degeneration. The biochemical consequence of the A25T mutation upon targeting of the protein is reported here. Targeting and trafficking of full-length mutant (A25T) precursor cystatin C-enhanced green fluorescent protein fusion protein were studied in living, cultured retinal pigment epithelial and HeLa cells. Confocal microscopy studies were substantiated by immunodetection. In striking contrast to wild-type precursor cystatin C fusion protein conspicuously targeted to the Golgi apparatus, the threonine variant was associated principally with mitochondria. Some diffuse fluorescence was also observed throughout the cytoplasm and nucleus (but not nucleoli). Secretion of fusion protein derived from the threonine variant was reduced by approximately 50% compared with that of the wild-type cystatin C fusion protein. Expression of the variant fusion protein did not appear to impair expression or secretion of endogenous cystatin C.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)884-95
Number of pages12
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2004


  • Aging
  • Alanine/chemistry
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Nucleus/metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cystatins/biosynthesis
  • Cytoplasm/metabolism
  • DNA Primers/chemistry
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Golgi Apparatus/metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins/metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration/genetics
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Mitochondria/metabolism
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mutation
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye/cytology
  • Plant Proteins
  • Plasmids/metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Threonine/chemistry
  • Time Factors
  • Transfection
  • Trypsin/pharmacology


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