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Roles of CUP-5, the Caenorhabditis elegans orthologue of human TRPML1, in lysosome and gut granule biogenesis

Erin M Campbell and Hanna Fares*

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Life Sciences South Room 531, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA

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BMC Cell Biology 2010, 11:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-11-40

Published: 11 June 2010



CUP-5 is a Transient Receptor Potential protein in C. elegans that is the orthologue of mammalian TRPML1. Loss of TRPML1 results in the lysosomal storage disorder Mucolipidosis type IV. Loss of CUP-5 results in embryonic lethality and the accumulation of enlarged yolk granules in developing intestinal cells. The embryonic lethality of cup-5 mutants is rescued by mutations in mrp-4, which is required for gut granule differentiation. Gut granules are intestine-specific lysosome-related organelles that accumulate birefringent material. This link between CUP-5 and gut granules led us to determine the roles of CUP-5 in lysosome and gut granule biogenesis in developing intestinal cells.


We show that CUP-5 protein localizes to lysosomes, but not to gut granules, in developing intestinal cells. Loss of CUP-5 results in defects in endo-lysosomal transport in developing intestinal cells of C. elegans embryos. This ultimately leads to the appearance of enlarged terminal vacuoles that show defective lysosomal degradation and that have lysosomal and endosomal markers. In contrast, gut granule biogenesis is normal in the absence of CUP-5. Furthermore, loss of CUP-5 does not result in inappropriate fusion or mixing of content between lysosomes and gut granules.


Using an in vivo model of MLIV, we show that there is a defect in lysosomal transport/biogenesis that is earlier than the presumed function of TRPML1 in terminal lysosomes. Our results indicate that CUP-5 is required for the biogenesis of lysosomes but not of gut granules. Thus, cellular phenotypes in Mucolipidosis type IV are likely not due to defects in lysosome-related organelle biogenesis, but due to progressive defects in lysosomal transport that lead to severe lysosomal dysfunction.