Fibulin-5 mutations: Mechanisms of impaired elastic fiber formation in recessive cutis laxa

Qirui Hu, Bart L. Loeys, Paul J. Coucke, Anne De Paepe, Robert P. Mecham, Jiwon Choi, Elaine C. Davis, Zsolt Urban

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To elucidate the molecular mechanisms of impaired elastic fiber formation in recessive cutis laxa, we have investigated two disease-causing missense substitutions in fibulin-5, C217R and S227P. Pulse-chase immunoprecipitation experiments indicated that S227P mutant fibulin-5 was synthesized and secreted by skin fibroblasts at a reduced rate when compared with the wild-type protein. Both mutants failed to be incorporated into elastic fibers by transfected rat lung fibroblasts. Purified recombinant fibulin-5 with either mutation showed reduced affinity for tropoelastin in solid-phase binding assays. Furthermore, S227P mutant fibulin-5 also showed impaired association with fibrillin-1 microfibrils. The same mutation triggered an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response, as indicated by the strong co-localization of this mutant protein with folding chaperones in the ER, including calreticulin, immunoglobulin-binding protein and protein disulfide isomerase, and by increased rates of apoptosis in patient fibroblasts. Histological analysis of skin sections from a cutis laxa patient with a homozygous S227P mutation showed a lack of fibulin-5 in the extracellular matrix and a concomitant disorganization of dermal elastic fibers. By electron microscopy, elastic fibers in the skin of this patient showed a failure of elastin globules to fuse into a continuous elastic fiber core. We conclude that recessive cutis laxa mutations in fibulin-5 result in misfolding, decreased secretion and a reduced interaction with elastin and fibrillin-1 leading to impaired elastic fiber development. These findings support the hypothesis that fibulin-5 is necessary for elastic fiber formation by facilitating the deposition of elastin onto a microfibrillar scaffold via direct molecular interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3379-3386
Number of pages8
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

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