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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2009 Dec;20(12):2570-80. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2009020188. Epub 2009 Oct 22.

Cystin localizes to primary cilia via membrane microdomains and a targeting motif.

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Departments of Medicine and Genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 720 20th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.


Primary cilia are dynamic, complex structures that contain >500 proteins, including several related to polycystic kidney disease. How these proteins target to cilia and assemble is unknown. We previously identified Cys1 as the gene responsible for disease in Cys1(cpk) mice, a mouse model of autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease; this gene encodes cystin, a 145-amino acid cilium-associated protein. Here, we characterized the localization of cystin in the embryonic kidney and liver, in isolated renal collecting ducts, and in an inner medullary collecting duct mouse cell line. Because endogenous levels of cystin expression are low, we generated inner medullary collecting duct cell lines that stably express enhanced green fluorescence protein-tagged constructs of wild-type cystin or various truncation mutants. We determined that cystin is myristoylated at its G2 residue and that N-myristoylated cystin fractionates with membrane microdomains. Furthermore, the N-myristoylation signal is necessary but not sufficient to target cystin to the primary cilium. Analysis of deletion and chimeric constructs identified an AxEGG motif that is necessary to target and retain cystin in the cilium. Derangement of these localization motifs may lead to cystic kidney disease.

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