Proinsulin intermolecular interactions during secretory trafficking in pancreatic β cells

Leena Haataja, Erik Snapp, Jordan Wright, Ming Liu, Alexandre B. Hardy, Michael B. Wheeler, Michele L. Markwardt, Megan A. Rizzo, Peter Arvan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Background: Proinsulin assembly is linked to its intracellular transport. Results: Proinsulin self-associates in the endoplasmic reticulum but, surprisingly, accumulates at a rate-limiting transport step in the Golgi region. Conclusion: Proinsulin transport is a dynamic process, and its perturbation may be measured under steady-state conditions. Significance: Proinsulin distribution may be a useful tool to characterize proinsulin trafficking in disease states. Classically, exit from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is rate-limiting for secretory protein trafficking because protein folding/assembly occurs there. In this study, we have exploited "hPro-CpepSfGFP," a human proinsulin bearing "superfolder" green fluorescent C-peptide expressed in pancreatic cells where it is processed to human insulin and CpepSfGFP. Remarkably, steady-state accumulation of hPro-CpepSfGFP and endogenous proinsulin is in the Golgi region, as if final stages of protein folding/assembly were occurring there. The Golgi regional distribution of proinsulin is dynamic, influenced by fasting/refeeding, and increased with cell zinc deficiency. However, coexpression of ER-entrapped mutant proinsulin-C(A7)Y shifts the steady-state distribution of wild-type proinsulin to the ER. Endogenous proinsulin coprecipitates with hPro-CpepSfGFP and even more so with hProC(A7)Y-CpepSfGFP. Using Cerulean and Venus-tagged proinsulins, we find that both WT-WT and WT-mutant proinsulin pairs exhibit FRET. The data demonstrate that wild-type proinsulin dimerizes within the ER but accumulates at a poorly recognized slow step within the Golgi region, reflecting either slow kinetics of proinsulin hexamerization, steps in formation of nascent secretory granules, or other unknown molecular events. However, in the presence of ongoing misfolding of a subpopulation of proinsulin in cells, the rate-limiting step in transport of the remaining proinsulin shifts to the ER.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1896-1906
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 18 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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