Regulation of polycystin expression, maturation and trafficking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The major autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) genes, PKD1 and PKD2, are wildly expressed at the organ and tissue level. PKD1 encodes polycystin 1 (PC1), a large membrane associated receptor-like protein that can complex with the PKD2 product, PC2. Various cellular locations have been described for both PC1, including the plasma membrane and extracellular vesicles, and PC2, especially the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), but compelling evidence indicates that the primary cilium, a sensory organelle, is the key site for the polycystin complex to prevent PKD. As with other membrane proteins, the ER biogenesis pathway is key to appropriately folding, performing quality control, and exporting fully folded PC1 to the Golgi apparatus. There is a requirement for binding with PC2 and cleavage of PC1 at the GPS for this folding and export to occur. Six different monogenic defects in this pathway lead to cystic disease development, with PC1 apparently particularly sensitive to defects in this general protein processing pathway. Trafficking of membrane proteins, and the polycystins in particular, through the Golgi to the primary cilium have been analyzed in detail, but at this time, there is no clear consensus on a ciliary targeting sequence required to export proteins to the cilium. After transitioning though the trans-Golgi network, polycystin-bearing vesicles are likely sorted to early or recycling endosomes and then transported to the ciliary base, possibly via docking to transition fibers (TF). The membrane-bound polycystin complex then undergoes facilitated trafficking through the transition zone, the diffusion barrier at the base of the cilium, before entering the cilium. Intraflagellar transport (IFT) may be involved in moving the polycystins along the cilia, but data also indicates other mechanisms. The ciliary polycystin complex can be ubiquitinated and removed from cilia by internalization at the ciliary base and may be sent back to the plasma membrane for recycling or to lysosomes for degradation. Monogenic defects in processes regulating the protein composition of cilia are associated with syndromic disorders involving many organ systems, reflecting the pleotropic role of cilia during development and for tissue maintenance. Many of these ciliopathies have renal involvement, likely because of faulty polycystin signaling from cilia. Understanding the expression, maturation and trafficking of the polycystins helps understand PKD pathogenesis and suggests opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109630
JournalCellular Signalling
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Cilia
  • Ciliopathies
  • ER biogenesis
  • Glycosylation
  • Polycystin 1
  • Polycystin 2
  • Trafficking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Regulation of polycystin expression, maturation and trafficking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this