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M.S., Chinese Academy of Sciences - 2007
Thesis Advisor: Peter Lobel, Ph.D.
Graduate Program in Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology
CABM, Room 010
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Use of fusion protein tags to investigate lysosomal proteins can be complicated by the acidic, protease-rich environment of the lysosome. Potential artifacts include degradation or release of the tag and acid quenching of fluorescence. Tagging can also affect protein folding, glycosylation and/or trafficking. To specifically investigate the use of fluorescent tags to reveal lysosomal localization, we tested mCherry derivatives as C-terminal tags for NPC2, a luminal lysosomal protein. Full-length mCherry was released from the NPC2 chimera while deletion of the 11 N-terminal residues of mCherry generated a cleavage-resistant (cr) fluorescent variant. Insertion of proline linkers between NPC2 and crmCherry had little effect while Gly-Ser linkers promoted cleavage. The NPC2-crmCherry fusion was targeted to the lysosome and restored function in NPC2-deficient cells. Fusion of crmCherry to known and candidate lysosomal proteins revealed that the linkers had different effects on lysosomal localization. Direct fusion of crmCherry impaired mannose 6-phosphorylation and lysosomal targeting of the lysosomal protease TPP1, while insertion of linkers corrected the defects. Molecular modeling suggested structural bases for the effects of different linkers on NPC2 and TPP1 fusion proteins. While mCherry fusion proteins can be useful tools for studying the lysosome and related organelles, our findings underscore the potential artifacts associated with such applications.