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Mol Biol Cell. 2018 Aug 15;29(17):2055-2068. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E18-01-0007. Epub 2018 Jun 27.

Coupling of microtubule motors with AP-3 generated organelles in axons by NEEP21 family member calcyon.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta, GA 30912.
Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.


Transport of late endosomes and lysosome-related organelles (LE/LROs) in axons is essential for supplying synaptic cargoes and for removing damaged macromolecules. Defects in this system are implicated in a range of human neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders. The findings reported here identify a novel mechanism regulating LE/LRO transport based on the coordinated coupling of microtubule motors and vesicle coat proteins to the neuron-enriched, transmembrane protein calcyon (Caly). We found that the cytoplasmic C-terminus of Caly pulled down proteins involved in microtubule-dependent transport (DIC, KIF5A, p150Glued, Lis1) and organelle biogenesis (AP-1 and AP-3) from the brain. In addition, RNA interference-mediated knockdown of Caly increased the percentage of static LE/LROs labeled by LysoTracker in cultured dorsal root ganglion axons. In contrast, overexpression of Caly stimulated movement of organelles positive for LysoTracker or the AP-3 cargo GFP-PI4KIIα. However, a Caly mutant (ATEA) that does not bind AP-3 was unable to pull down motor proteins from brain, and expression of the ATEA mutant failed to increase either LE/LRO flux or levels of associated dynein. Taken together, these data support the hypothesis that Caly is a multifunctional scaffolding protein that regulates axonal transport of LE/LROs by coordinately interacting with motor and vesicle coat proteins.

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