Ubiquitin and the lysosome system: Molecular immunopathology reveals the connection

R. J. Mayer, J. Lowe, M. Landon, H. McDermott, J. Tuckwell, F. Doherty, L. Laszlo

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Considerable advances in our understanding of the molecular pathology of the major human neurodegenerative diseases have been made by the use of ubiquitin immunocytochemistry. The technique demonstrates that filamentous inclusions and vacuoles contain ubiquitin-protein conjugates. The molecular structure of the filaments and the morphological type of vacuoles is not completely understood but there is evidence that some of the filamentous inclusions contain intermediate filaments and the perinuclear distribution of the vacuoles resemble the distribution of intraneuronal lysosomes. Intermediate filaments and lysosomes are involved in the sequestration and degradation of viral membrane proteins in tissue culture cells. Immunogold electron microscopical and biochemical evidence indicates that ubiquitin-protein conjugates are normally considerably enriched in the lysosomes of fibroblasts relative to all other organelles. Immunogold electron microscopy shows a similar enrichment of ubiquitin-protein conjugates in the dense lysosomes of granulocytic precursor cells in the bone marrow. Filamentous inclusions showing several of the features seen in inclusions in the neurodegenerative diseases are seen in Epstein-Barr virus transformed lymphoblastoid cells. Immunohistochemistry shows that the inclusions contain vimentin intermediate filaments, the latent membrane transforming protein of the virus, ubiquitin-protein conjugates, and a heat-shock protein 70 (hsp 70). Immunohistochemistry and immunogold electron microscopy demonstrate that the latent membrane protein, ubiquitin-protein conjugates and hsp 70 are in lysosomes entwined in an interemediate filament cage centred on the microtubule organising centre. The implications of the combined observations for our understanding of the cell stress response in degenerating neurones and in virally infected cells are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-341
Number of pages9
JournalBiomedica Biochimica Acta
Issue number4-6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 20 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry

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    Mayer, R. J., Lowe, J., Landon, M., McDermott, H., Tuckwell, J., Doherty, F., & Laszlo, L. (1991). Ubiquitin and the lysosome system: Molecular immunopathology reveals the connection. Biomedica Biochimica Acta, 50(4-6), 333-341.