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J Clin Invest. 2002 Jun;109(12):1541-50.

Rab proteins mediate Golgi transport of caveola-internalized glycosphingolipids and correct lipid trafficking in Niemann-Pick C cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Thoracic Diseases Research Unit, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.


We recently showed that human skin fibroblasts internalize fluorescent analogues of the glycosphingolipids lactosylceramide and globoside almost exclusively by a clathrin-independent mechanism involving caveolae. In contrast, a sphingomyelin analogue is internalized approximately equally via clathrin-dependent and caveolar routes. Here, we further characterized the caveolar pathway for glycosphingolipids, showing that Golgi targeting of sphingolipids internalized via caveolae required microtubules and phosphoinositol 3-kinases and was inhibited in cells expressing dominant-negative Rab7 and Rab9 constructs. In addition, overexpression of wild-type Rab7 or Rab9 (but not Rab11) in Niemann-Pick type C (NP-C) lipid storage disease fibroblasts resulted in correction of lipid trafficking defects, including restoration of Golgi targeting of fluorescent lactosylceramide and endogenous GM(1) ganglioside, and a dramatic reduction in intracellular cholesterol stores. Our results demonstrate a role for Rab7 and Rab9 in the Golgi targeting of glycosphingolipids and suggest a new therapeutic approach for restoring normal lipid trafficking in NP-C cells.

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