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J Biol Chem. 2003 Sep 19;278(38):36786-93. Epub 2003 Jul 2.

Polycystin-1 distribution is modulated by polycystin-2 expression in mammalian cells.

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Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


Mutations in PKD1 and PKD2, the genes that encode polycystin-1 and polycystin-2 respectively, account for almost all cases of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. Although the polycystins are believed to interact in vivo, the two proteins often display dissimilar patterns and gradients of expression during development. In an effort to understand this apparent discrepancy, we investigated how changes in polycystin-2 expression can affect the subcellular localization of polycystin-1. We show that, when polycystin-1 is expressed alone in a PKD2 null cell line, it localizes to the cell surface, as well as to the endoplasmic reticulum. When co-expressed with polycystin-2, however, polycystin-1 is not seen at the cell surface and co-localizes completely with polycystin-2 in the endoplasmic reticulum. The localization of a polycystin-1 fusion protein was similarly affected by changes in its level of expression relative to that of polycystin-2. This phenomenon was observed in populations as well as in individual COS-7 cells. Our data suggest that the localization of polycystin-1 can be regulated via the relative expression level of polycystin-2 in mammalian cells. This mechanism may help to explain the divergent patterns and levels of expression observed for the polycystins, and may provide clues as to how the function of these two proteins are regulated during development.

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