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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jul 18;278(29):26311-4. Epub 2003 May 27.

The prodomain of a secreted hydrophobic mini-protein facilitates its export from the endoplasmic reticulum by hitchhiking on sorting receptors.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science, 76100 Rehovot, Israel.


Misfolded secretory proteins are retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) by quality control mechanisms targeted to exposed hydrophobic surfaces. Paradoxically, certain conotoxins expose extensive hydrophobic surfaces upon folding to their bioactive structures. How then can such secreted mini-proteins traverse the secretory pathway? Here we show that secretion of the hydrophobic conotoxin-TxVI is strongly dependent on its propeptide domain, which enhances TxVI export from the ER. The propeptide domain interacts with sorting receptors from the sortilin Vps10p domain family. The sortilin-TxVI interaction occurs in the ER, and sortilin facilitates export of TxVI from the ER to the Golgi. Thus, the prodomain in a secreted hydrophobic protein acts as a tag that can facilitate its ER export by a hitchhiking mechanism.

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