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FASEB J. 1987 Dec;1(6):462-8.

Trafficking of lysosomal enzymes.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110.


The targeting of lysosomal enzymes from their site of synthesis in the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) to their final destination in lysosomes is directed by a series of protein and carbohydrate recognition signals on the enzymes. Lysosomal enzymes, along with secretory and plasma membrane proteins, contain amino-terminal signal sequences that direct the vectorial discharge of the nascent proteins into the lumen of the RER. The three classes of proteins also share a common peptide signal for asparagine glycosylation. The next signal is unique to lysosomal enzymes and permits their high-affinity binding to a specific phosphotransferase that catalyzes the formation of the mannose 6-phosphate recognition marker. This carbohydrate determinant allows binding to specific receptors that translocate the lysosomal enzymes from the Golgi complex to an acidified prelysosomal compartment. There the lysosomal enzymes are discharged for final packaging into lysosomes. Two distinct mannose 6-phosphate receptors have been identified, and cDNAs encoding their entire sequences have been cloned. An analysis of the deduced amino acid sequences of the receptors shows that each is composed of four structural domains: a signal sequence, an extracytoplasmic amino-terminal domain, a hydrophobic membrane-spanning region, and a cytoplasmic domain. The entire extracytoplasmic region of the small receptor is homologous to the 15 repeating domains that constitute the extracytoplasmic portion of the large receptor.

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