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1.  SRD5A3 is required for the conversion of polyprenol to dolichol, essential for N-linked protein glycosylation 
Cell  2010;142(2):203-217.
SUMMARY
N-linked glycosylation is the most frequent modification of secreted and membrane-bound proteins in eukaryotic cells, disruption of which is the basis of the Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation (CDG). We describe a new type of CDG caused by mutations in the steroid 5α-reductase type 3 (SRD5A3) gene. Patients have mental retardation, ophthalmologic and cerebellar defects. We found that SRD5A3 is necessary for the reduction of the alpha-isoprene unit of polyprenols to form dolichols, required for synthesis of dolichol-linked monosaccharides and the oligosaccharide precursor used for N-glycosylation. The presence of residual dolichol in cells depleted for this enzyme suggests the existence of an unexpected alternative pathway for dolichol de novo biosynthesis. Our results thus suggest that SRD5A3 is likely to be the long-sought polyprenol reductase and reveal the genetic basis of one of the earliest steps in protein N-linked glycosylation.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2010.06.001
PMCID: PMC2940322  PMID: 20637498
N-glycosylation; dolichol; polyprenol; SRD5A3
2.  A novel statin-mediated “prenylation block-and-release” assay provides insight into the membrane targeting mechanisms of small GTPases 
Ras super-family small GTPases regulate diverse cellular processes such as vesicular transport and signal transduction. Critical to these activities is the ability of these proteins to target to specific intracellular membranes. To allow association with membranes Ras-related GTPases are post-translationally modified by covalent attachment of prenyl groups to conserved cysteine residues at or near their C-terminus. Here we used the HMG-CoA (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A) reductase (HMGCR) inhibitor mevastatin to develop a ‘prenylation block-and-release’ assay that allows membrane targeting of prenylated proteins to be visualized in living cells. Using this assay we investigated the cytosol to membrane targeting of several small GTPases to compartments of the secretory and endocytic pathways. We found that all Rabs tested were targeted directly to the membrane on which they reside at steady-state and not via an intermediate location as reported for Ras and Rho proteins. However, we observed that the kinetics of cytosol to membrane targeting differed for each Rab tested. Comparison of the mevastatin sensitivity and kinetics of membrane targeting of Rab23, Rab23 prenylation motif mutants and H-Ras revealed that these parameters are strongly dependent upon the prenyl transferase with Rab geranylgeranyl transferase substrates exhibiting higher sensitivity and requiring greater time to recover from mevastatin inhibition than farnesyl transferase substrates. We propose that this assay is a useful tool to investigate the kinetics, biological functions and the mechanisms of membrane targeting of prenylated proteins.
doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2010.05.045
PMCID: PMC2908739  PMID: 20471365
GTPases; Prenylation; Statin; Trafficking; Rab proteins
3.  Trafficking defects and loss of ligand binding are the underlying causes of all reported DDR2 missense mutations found in SMED-SL patients 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(11):2239-2250.
Spondylo-meta-epiphyseal dysplasia (SMED) with short limbs and abnormal calcifications (SMED-SL) is a rare, autosomal recessive human growth disorder, characterized by disproportionate short stature, short limbs, short broad fingers, abnormal metaphyses and epiphyses, platyspondyly and premature calcifications. Recently, three missense mutations and one splice-site mutation in the DDR2 gene were identified as causative genetic defects for SMED-SL, but the underlying cellular and biochemical mechanisms were not explored. Here we report a novel DDR2 missense mutation, c.337G>A (p.E113K), that causes SMED-SL in two siblings in the United Arab Emirates. Another DDR2 missense mutation, c.2254C>T (p.R752C), matching one of the previously reported SMED-SL mutations, was found in a second affected family. DDR2 is a plasma membrane receptor tyrosine kinase that functions as a collagen receptor. We expressed DDR2 constructs with the identified point mutations in human cell lines and evaluated their localization and functional properties. We found that all SMED-SL missense mutants were defective in collagen-induced receptor activation and that the three previously reported mutants (p.T713I, p.I726R and p.R752C) were retained in the endoplasmic reticulum. The novel mutant (p.E113K), in contrast, trafficked normally, like wild-type DDR2, but failed to bind collagen. This finding is in agreement with our recent structural data identifying Glu113 as an important amino acid in the DDR2 ligand-binding site. Our data thus demonstrate that SMED-SL can result from at least two different loss-of-function mechanisms: namely defects in DDR2 targeting to the plasma membrane or the loss of its ligand-binding activity.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq103
PMCID: PMC2865377  PMID: 20223752
4.  Molecular and clinical analysis of Ellis-van Creveld syndrome in the United Arab Emirates 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:33.
Background
Ellis-van Creveld (EvC) syndrome is an autosomal recessive chondrodysplastic condition with clinical manifestations that include short-limbs and ribs, postaxial polydactyly and dysplastic nails and teeth. In about two thirds of patients, mutations in either EVC or EVC2 genes have been found to be the underlying cause.
Methods
In this paper, we describe the molecular (DNA sequencing) and clinical analysis of six children diagnosed with EvC from four different families from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Results
All the children had the common clinical and radiological features of this syndrome. However, DNA sequence analysis of the genes shown to be involved (EVC and EVC2) revealed a novel splice site mutation (c.2047-1G>T) in intron 13 of EVC2 gene in one family. In addition, we confirm previous mutational analyses that showed a truncating mutation in exon 13 of EVC gene (c.1813C>T; p.Q605X) in the second family and a single nucleotide deletion (c.981delG; p.K327fs) in exon 8 of EVC2 gene in the third family. No mutations in the exons, splice sites or the promoter regions of either gene have been found in the index case of the fourth family who exhibited "EvC-like" features.
Conclusions
Given the small population size of UAE, our data illustrates further the molecular heterogeneity observed in EvC patients and excludes the possibility of a common founder effect for this condition in the UAE reflecting the current ethnic diversity of the country.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-33
PMCID: PMC2845574  PMID: 20184732

Results 1-4 (4)