Human liver cell trafficking mutants: Characterization and whole exome sequencing

Fei Yuan, Erik L. Snapp, Phyllis M. Novikoff, Sylvia O. Suadicani, David C. Spray, Barry Potvin, Allan W. Wolkoff, Pamela Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The HuH7 liver cell mutant Trf1 is defective in membrane trafficking and is complemented by the casein kinase 2α subunit CK2α″. Here we identify characteristic morphologies, trafficking and mutational changes in six additional HuH7 mutants Trf2-Trf7. Trf1 cells were previously shown to be severely defective in gap junction functions. Using a Lucifer yellow transfer assay, remarkable attenuation of gap junction communication was revealed in each of the mutants Trf2-Trf7 . Electron microscopy and light microscopy of thiamine pyrophosphatase showed that several mutants exhibited fragmented Golgi apparatus cisternae compared to parental HuH7 cells. Intracellular trafficking was investigated using assays of transferrin endocytosis and recycling and VSV G secretion. Surface binding of transferrin was reduced in all six Trf2-Trf7 mutants, which generally correlated with the degree of reduced expression of the transferrin receptor at the cell surface. The mutants displayed the same transferrin influx rates as HuH7, and for efflux rate, only Trf6 differed, having a slower transferrin efflux rate than HuH7. The kinetics of VSV G transport along the exocytic pathway were altered in Trf2 and Trf5 mutants. Genetic changes unique to particular Trf mutants were identified by exome sequencing, and one was investigated in depth. The novel mutation Ile34Phe in the GTPase RAB22A was identified in Trf4. RNA interference knockdown of RAB22A or overexpression of RAB22AI34F in HuH7 cells caused phenotypic changes characteristic of the Trf4 mutant. In addition, the Ile34Phe mutation reduced both guanine nucleotide binding and hydrolysis activities of RAB22A. Thus, the RAB22A Ile34Phe mutation appears to contribute to the Trf4 mutant phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere87043
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 23 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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