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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 29;276(26):23539-46. Epub 2001 Apr 24.

Membrane topology of the ATP binding cassette transporter ABCR and its relationship to ABC1 and related ABCA transporters: identification of N-linked glycosylation sites.

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  • 1Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Ophthalmology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z3, Canada.


ABCR is a member of the ABCA subclass of ATP binding cassette transporters that is responsible for Stargardt macular disease and implicated in retinal transport across photoreceptor disc membranes. It consists of a single polypeptide chain arranged in two tandem halves, each having a multi-spanning membrane domain followed by a nucleotide binding domain. To delineate between several proposed membrane topological models, we have identified the exocytoplasmic (extracellular/lumen) N-linked glycosylation sites on ABCR. Using trypsin digestion, site-directed mutagenesis, concanavalin A binding, and endoglycosidase digestion, we show that ABCR contains eight glycosylation sites. Four sites reside in a 600-amino acid exocytoplasmic domain of the N-terminal half between the first transmembrane segment H1 and the first multi-spanning membrane domain, and four sites are in a 275-amino acid domain of the C half between transmembrane segment H7 and the second multi-spanning membrane domain. This leads to a model in which each half has a transmembrane segment followed by a large exocytoplasmic domain, a multi-spanning membrane domain, and a nucleotide binding domain. Other ABCA transporters, including ABC1 linked to Tangier disease, are proposed to have a similar membrane topology based on sequence similarity to ABCR. Studies also suggest that the N and C halves of ABCR are linked through disulfide bonds.

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