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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2004 May;286(5):C1177-87. Epub 2003 Dec 24.

Subcellular targeting and function of osteoblast nucleotide pyrophosphatase phosphodiesterase 1.

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  • 1VA Medical Center, 3350 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla, CA 92161, USA.


The ectonucleoside pyrophosphatase phosphodiesterase 1 (NPP1/PC-1) is a member of the NPP enzyme family that is critical in regulating mineralization. In certain mineralizing sites of bone and cartilage, membrane-limited vesicles [matrix vesicles (MVs)] provide a sheltered internal environment for nucleation of calcium-containing crystals, including hydroxyapatite. MV formation occurs by budding of vesicles from the plasma membrane of mineralizing cells. The MVs are enriched in proteins that promote mineralization. Paradoxically, NPP1, the type II transmembrane protein that generates the potent hydroxyapatite crystal growth inhibitor inorganic pyrophosphate (PP(i)), is also enriched in MVs. Although osteoblasts express NPP1, NPP2, and NPP3, only NPP1 is enriched in MVs. Therefore, this study uses mineralizing human osteoblastic SaOS-2 cells, a panel of NPP1 mutants, and NPP1 chimeras with NPP3, which does not concentrate in MVs, to investigate how NPP1 preferentially targets to MVs. We demonstrated that a cytosolic dileucine motif (amino acids 49-50) was critical in localizing NPP1 to regions of the plasma membrane that budded off into MVs. Moreover, transposition of the NPP1 cytoplasmic dileucine motif and flanking region (AAASLLAP) to NPP3 conferred to NPP3 the ability to target to the plasma membrane and, subsequently, concentrate in MVs. Functionally, the cytosolic tail dileucine motif NPP1 mutants lost the ability to support MV PP(i) concentrations and to suppress calcification. The results identify a specific targeting motif in the NPP1 cytosolic tail that delivers PP(i)-generating NPP activity to osteoblast MVs for control of calcification.

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