A proteo-liposome system for the analysis of the intracellular interactome of membrane proteins using amyloid precursor protein as a model

  • Heather Currinn

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Transmembrane proteins play crucial roles in many important physiological processes. The intracellular domain of membrane proteins is key for their function by interacting with a wide variety of cytosolic proteins. It is therefore important to examine this interaction. A recently developed method to study these interactions, based on the use of liposomes as a model membrane, involves the covalent coupling of the cytoplasmic domains of membrane proteins to the liposome membrane. This allows for the analysis of interaction partners requiring both protein and membrane lipid binding.
This thesis further establishes the liposome recruitment system and utilises it to examine the intracellular interactome of the amyloid precursor protein (APP), most well-known for its proteolytic cleavage that results in the production and accumulation of amyloid beta fragments, the main constituent of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Despite this, the physiological function of APP remains largely unclear. Through the use of the proteo-liposome recruitment system two novel interactions of APP’s intracellular domain (AICD) are examined with a view to gaining a greater insight into APP’s physiological function.
One of these novel interactions is between AICD and the mTOR complex, a serine/threonine protein kinase that integrates signals from nutrients and growth factors. The kinase domain of mTOR directly binds to AICD and the N-terminal amino acids of AICD are crucial for this interaction.
The second novel interaction is between AICD and the endosomal PIKfyve complex, a lipid kinase involved in the production of phosphatidylinositol-3,5-bisphosphate (PI(3,5)P2) from phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate, which has a role in controlling ensdosome dynamics. The scaffold protein Vac14 of the PIKfyve complex binds directly to AICD and the C-terminus of AICD is important for its interaction with the PIKfyve complex. Using a recently developed intracellular PI(3,5)P2 probe it is shown that APP controls the formation of PI(3,5)P2 positive vesicular structures and that the PIKfyve complex is involved in the trafficking and degradation of APP. Both of these novel APP interactors have important implications of both APP function and Alzheimer’s disease.
The proteo-liposome recruitment method is further validated through its use to examine the recruitment and assembly of the AP-2/clathrin coat from purified components to two membrane proteins containing different sorting motifs.
Taken together this thesis highlights the proteo-liposome recruitment system as a valuable tool for the study of membrane proteins intracellular interactome. It allows for the mimicking of the protein in its native configuration therefore identifying weaker interactions that are not detected by more conventional methods and also detecting interactions that are mediated by membrane phospholipids.
Date of Award9 Jun 2015
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorThomas Wassmer (Supervisor) & Alice Rothnie (Supervisor)


  • PIKfyve
  • endosomal trafficking
  • Clathrin
  • AP-2
  • Alzheimer’s disease

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