Core formation and the acquisition of fusion competence are linked during secretory granule maturation in Tetrahymena

Grant R. Bowman, Nels C. Elde, Garry Morgan, Mark Winey, Aaron P. Turkewitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The formation of dense core secretory granules is a multi-stage process beginning in the trans Golgi network and continuing during a period of granule maturation. Direct interactions between proteins in the membrane and those in the forming dense core may be important for sorting during this process, as well as for organizing membrane proteins in mature granules. We have isolated two mutants in dense core granule formation in the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila, an organism in which this pathway is genetically accessible. The mutants lie in two distinct genes but have similar phenotypes, marked by accumulation of a set of granule cargo markers in intracellular vesicles resembling immature secretory granules. Sorting to these vesicles appears specific, since they do not contain detectable levels of an extraneous secretory marker. The mutants were initially identified on the basis of aberrant proprotein processing, but also showed defects in the docking of the immature granules. These defects, in core assembly and docking, were similarly conditional with respect to growth conditions, and therefore are likely to be tightly linked. In starved cells, the processing defect was less severe, and the immature granules could dock but still did not undergo stimulated exocytosis. We identified a lumenal protein that localizes to the docking-competent end of wildtype granules, but which is delocalized in the mutants. Our results suggest that dense cores have functionally distinct domains that may be important for organizing membrane proteins involved in docking and fusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-323
Number of pages21
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Biogenesis
  • Exocytosis
  • Granule tip
  • Paramecium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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