Mucolipins (or TRPMLs) constitute a family of endosomal cation channels with homology to the transient receptor potential superfamily. In mammals, the mucolipin family includes three members, mucolipin-1, -2, and -3 (MCOLN1-3). MCOLN1 is the best-characterized member of the family due to the fact that mutations in this protein are associated with a human disease known as mucolipidosis type IV (MLIV). We and others have proposed that the primary role of MCOLN1 in cells is to mediate calcium efflux from late endosomes and lysosomes, thus promoting organelle fusion and regulating endosomal trafficking. Gain-of-function mutation in MCOLN3 causes the varitint-waddler (Va) phenotype in mice, which is characterized by hearing loss, vestibular dysfunction, and coat color dilution. The Va phenotype results from a punctual mutation (A419P) in the pore region of MCOLN3 that locks the channel in an open conformation causing massive entry of calcium inside cells and inducing cell death by apoptosis. Overexpression of wild-type MCOLN3 produces severe alterations of the endosomal pathway, including enlargement and clustering of endosomes, delayed EGF receptor degradation, and impaired autophagosome maturation, thus suggesting that MCOLN3 plays an important role in the regulation of endosomal function. To understand better the physiological role of MCOLN3, we inhibited MCOLN3 function by expression of a channel-dead dominant negative mutant (458DD/KK) or by knockdown of endogenous MCOLN3 and measure several endosomal parameters including luminal calcium, pH, and endosomal fusion. We found impairment of MCOLN3 activity caused a significant accumulation of luminal calcium at endosomes. This accumulation led to severe defects in endosomal acidification as well as to increased endosomal fusion. Our findings reveal a prominent role for MCOLN3 in regulating calcium homeostasis at the endosomal pathway and confirm the importance of luminal calcium for proper acidification and membrane trafficking. The cellular function of MCOLN2 is far less characterized. We have previously described that, in HeLa cells, MCOLN2 distributes at the tubular recycling endosomes of the Arf6-regulated pathway and regulates recycling of specific glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored proteins (GPIs). To further characterize the physiological role of MCOLN2, we have initiated the development of in vivo animal models. In particular, we have generated MCOLN2 knockout mice by inserting a trapping cassette SA-βgeo-pA (splice acceptor-beta-geo-polyA) flanked by Flp-recombinase target FRT sites within an intron upstream of a critical exon. We are currently phenotyping the MCOLN2 KO mice and assessing the tissue expression of this protein.

Project Start
Project End
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Budget End
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$483,312
Indirect Cost
Name
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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