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Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Nov;30(8):1189-95. doi: 10.1007/s10571-010-9595-8. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Chromogranin A as a crucial factor in the sorting of peptide hormones to secretory granules.

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Laboratory of Neuronal and Neuroendocrine Differentiation and Communication, INSERM U982, University of Rouen, Mont-St-Aignan Cedex, France.


Chromogranin A (CgA) is a soluble glycoprotein stored along with hormones and neuropeptides in secretory granules of endocrine cells. In the last four decades, intense efforts have been concentrated to characterize the structure and the biological function of CgA. Besides, CgA has been widely used as a diagnostic marker for tumors of endocrine origin, essential hypertension, various inflammatory diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. CgA displays peculiar structural features, including numerous multibasic cleavage sites for prohormone convertases as well as a high proportion of acidic residues. Thus, it has been proposed that CgA represents a precursor of biologically active peptides, and a "granulogenic protein" that plays an important role as a chaperone for catecholamine storage in adrenal chromaffin cells. The widespread distribution of CgA throughout the neuroendocrine system prompted several groups to investigate the role of CgA in peptide hormone sorting to the regulated secretory pathway. This review summarizes the findings and theoretical concepts around the molecular machinery used by CgA to exert this putative intracellular function. Since CgA terminal regions exhibited strong sequence conservation through evolution, our work focused on the implication of these domains as potential functional determinants of CgA. Characterization of the molecular signals implicating CgA in the intracellular traffic of hormones represents a major biological issue that may contribute to unraveling the mechanisms defining the secretory competence of neuroendocrine cells.

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