To remain healthy, the body's cells must properly manage their waste recycling centers. Problems with these compartments, known as lysosomes, lead to a number of debilitating and sometimes lethal conditions.
Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified an unusual cause of the lysosomal storage disorder called mucolipidosis III, at least in a subset of patients. This rare disorder causes skeletal and heart abnormalities and can result in a shortened lifespan. But unlike most genetic diseases that involve dysfunctional or missing proteins, the culprit is a normal protein that ends up in the wrong place.
In mutant cells, the protein phosphotransferase (green) is spread beyond the Golgi apparatus (red). Outside the Golgi, this wayward phosphotransferase is no longer able to perform its job of properly addressing enzymes bound for the lysosome.