Expression of the sarco/endoplasmic Ca2+-ATPase, SERCA1a, in fibroblasts induces the formation of organelle membrane arrays

Suzanne E. Biehn, Kirk J. Czymmek, Karla F. Leavens, Norman J. Karin

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Members of the sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) family are transmembrane proteins that are essential for the function of intracellular Ca2+ storage organelles. We found that overexpression of avian muscle SERCA1a in transfected mouse fibroblasts led to the appearance of tubular membrane bundles that we termed plaques. These structures were generated in transfected cells when SERCA1a protein expression approached the endogenous level measured in chicken skeletal muscle. Plaque membranes had associated ribosomes and contained endoplasmic reticulum (ER) proteins. Endogenous ER protein levels were not elevated in SERCA1a-expressing cells, indicating that plaques were not generalized proliferations of ER but rather a reorganization of existing organelle membrane. Plaque formation also was observed in cells expressing a green fluorescent protein-SERCA1a fusion protein (GFP-SERCA1a). GFP-SERCA1a molecules displayed extensive lateral mobility between plaques, suggesting the presence of membrane continuities between these structures. Plaques were induced in cells expressing cDNA encoding a catalytically silent SERCA1a mutant indicating that ER redistribution was driven by a structural feature of the enzyme. SERCA1a-induced plaque formation shares some characteristics of sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) biogenesis during muscle differentiation, and high-level SERCA1a expression in vivo may contribute to the formation of SR from ER during embryonic myogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-88
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cell Biology


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