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EMBO J. 1995 Jun 1;14(11):2424-35.

Two independent targeting signals in the cytoplasmic domain determine trans-Golgi network localization and endosomal trafficking of the proprotein convertase furin.

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Institut für Virologie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany.


Furin, a subtilisin-like eukaryotic endoprotease, is responsible for proteolytic cleavage of cellular and viral proteins transported via the constitutive secretory pathway. Cleavage occurs at the C-terminus of basic amino acid sequences, such as R-X-K/R-R and R-X-X-R. Furin was found predominantly in the trans-Golgi network (TGN), but also in clathrin-coated vesicles dispatched from the TGN, on the plasma membrane as an integral membrane protein and in the medium as an anchorless enzyme. When furin was vectorially expressed in normal rat kidney (NRK) cells it accumulated in the TGN similarly to the endogenous glycoprotein TGN38, often used as a TGN marker protein. The signals determining TGN targeting of furin were investigated by mutational analysis of the cytoplasmic tail of furin and by using the hemagglutinin (HA) of fowl plague virus, a protein with cell surface destination, as a reporter molecule, in which membrane anchor and cytoplasmic tail were replaced by the respective domains of furin. The membrane-spanning domain of furin grafted to HA does not localize the chimeric molecule to the TGN, whereas the cytoplasmic domain does. Results obtained on furin mutants with substitutions and deletions of amino acids in the cytoplasmic tail indicate that wild-type furin is concentrated in the TGN by a mechanism involving two independent targeting signals, which consist of the acidic peptide CPSDSEEDEG783 and the tetrapeptide YKGL765. The acidic signal in the cytoplasmic domain of a HA-furin chimera is necessary and sufficient to localize the reporter molecule to the TGN, whereas YKGL is a determinant for targeting to the endosomes. The data support the concept that the acidic signal, which is the dominant one, retains furin in the TGN, whereas the YKGL motif acts as a retrieval signal for furin that has escaped to the cell surface.

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