Genetic ablation of phosphatidylinositol transfer protein function in murine embryonic stem cells

James G. Alb, Scott E. Phillips, Kathleen Rostand, Xiaoxia Cui, Jef Pinxteren, Laura Cotlin, Timothy Manning, Shuling Guo, John D. York, Harald Sontheimer, James F. Collawn, Vytas A. Bankaitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Phosphatidylinositol transfer proteins (PITPs) regulate the interface between signal transduction, membrane-trafficking, and lipid metabolic pathways in eukaryotic cells. The best characterized mammalian PITPs are PITPα and PITPβ, two highly homologous proteins that are encoded by distinct genes. Insights into PITPα and PITPβ function in mammalian systems have been gleaned exclusively from cell-free or permeabilized cell reconstitution and resolution studies. Herein, we report for the first time the use of genetic approaches to directly address the physiological functions of PITPα and PITPβ in murine cells. Contrary to expectations, we find that ablation of PITPα function in murine cells fails to compromise growth and has no significant consequence for bulk phospholipid metabolism. Moreover, the data show that PITPα does not play an obvious role in any of the cellular activities where it has been reconstituted as an essential stimulatory factor. These activities include protein trafficking through the constitutive secretory pathway, endocytic pathway function, biogenesis of mast cell dense core secretory granules, and the agonist-induced fusion of dense core secretory granules to the mast cell plasma membrane. Finally, the data demonstrate that PITPα-deficient cells not only retain their responsiveness to bulk growth factor stimulation but also retain their pluripotency. In contrast, we were unable to evict both PITPβ alleles from murine cells and show that PITPβ deficiency results in catastrophic failure early in murine embryonic development. We suggest that PITPβ is an essential housekeeping PITP in murine cells, whereas PITPα plays a far more specialized function in mammals than that indicated by in vitro systems that show PITP dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-754
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


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