Alanine/glyoxylate aminotransferase 1 (AGT) is peroxisomal in most normal humans, but in some patients with the hereditary disease primary hyperoxaluria type 1 (PH1), AGT is mislocalized to the mitochondria. In an attempt to identify the sequences in AGT that mediate its targeting to peroxisomes, and to determine the mechanism by which AGT is mistargeted in PH1, we have studied the intracellular compartmentalization of various normal and mutant AGT polypeptides in normal human fibroblasts and cell lines with selective deficiencies of peroxisomal protein import, using immunofluorescence microscopy after intranuclear microinjection of AGT expression plasmids. The results show that AGT is imported into peroxisomes via the peroxisomal targeting sequence type 1 (PTS1) translocation pathway. Although the COOH-terminal KKL of human AGT was shown to be necessary for its peroxisomal import, this tripeptide was unable to direct the peroxisomal import of the bona fide peroxisomal protein firefly luciferase or the reporter protein bacterial chloramphenicol acetyltransferase. An ill-defined region immediately upstream of the COOH-terminal KKL was also found to be necessary for the peroxisomal import of AGT, but again this region was found to be insufficient to direct the peroxisomal import of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase. Substitution of the COOH-terminal KKL of human AGT by the COOH-terminal tripeptides found in the AGTs of other mammalian species (SQL, NKL), the prototypical PTS1 (SKL), or the glycosomal PTS1 (SSL) also allowed peroxisomal targeting, showing that the allowable PTS1 motif in AGT is considerably more degenerate than, or at least very different from, that acceptable in luciferase. AGT possessing the two amino acid substitutions responsible for its mistargeting in PH1 (i.e., Pro11-->Leu and Gly170-->Arg) was targeted mainly to the mitochondria. However, AGTs possessing each amino acid substitution on its own were targeted normally to the peroxisomes. This suggests that Gly170-->Arg-mediated increased functional efficiency of the otherwise weak mitochondrial targeting sequence (generated by the Pro11-->Leu polymorphism) is not due to interference with the peroxisomal targeting or import of AGT.

This content is only available as a PDF.