Subcellular localization of fumarase in mammalian cells and tissues
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Fumarase, a mitochondrial matrix protein, is previously indicated to be present in substantial amounts in the cytosol as well. However, recent studies show that newly synthesized human fumarase is efficiently imported into mitochondria with no detectable amount in the cytosol. To clarify its subcellular localization, the subcellular distribution of fumarase in mammalian cells/tissues was examined by a number of different methods. Cell fractionation using either a mitochondria fraction kit or extraction with low concentrations of digitonin, detected no fumarase in a 100,000 g supernatant fraction. Immunofluorescence labeling with an affinity-purified antibody to fumarase and an antibody to the mitochondrial Hsp60 protein showed identical labeling pattern with labeling seen mainly in mitochondria. Detailed studies were performed using high-resolution immunogold electron microscopy to determine the subcellular localization of fumarase in rat tissues, embedded in LR White resin. In thin sections from kidney, liver, heart, adrenal gland and anterior pituitary, strong and specific labeling due to fumarase antibody was only detected in mitochondria. However, in the pancreatic acinar cells, in addition to mitochondria, highly significant labeling was also observed in the zymogen granules and endoplasmic reticulum. The observed labeling in all cases was completely abolished upon omission of the primary antibody indicating that it was specific. In a western blot of purified zymogen granules, a fumarase-antibody cross-reactive protein of the same molecular mass as seen in the mitochondria was present. These results provide evidence that fumarase in mammalian cells/tissues is mainly localized in mitochondria and significant amounts of this protein are not present in the cytosol. However, these studies also reveal that in certain tissues, in addition to mitochondria, this protein is also present at specific extramitochondrial sites. Although the cellular function of fumarase at these extramitochondrial locations is not known, the appearance/localization of fumarase outside mitochondria may help explain how mutations in this mitochondrial protein can give rise to a number of different types of cancers.
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