Endo-lysosomal dysfunction in human proximal tubular epithelial cells deficient for lysosomal cystine transporter cystinosin

Ekaterina A. Ivanova, Maria Giovanna De Leo, Lambertus Van Den Heuvel, Anna Pastore, Henry Dijkman, Maria Antonietta De Matteis, Elena N. Levtchenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nephropathic cystinosis is a lysosomal storage disorder caused by mutations in the CTNS gene encoding cystine transporter cystinosin that results in accumulation of amino acid cystine in the lysosomes throughout the body and especially affects kidneys. Early manifestations of the disease include renal Fanconi syndrome, a generalized proximal tubular dysfunction. Current therapy of cystinosis is based on cystine-lowering drug cysteamine that postpones the disease progression but offers no cure for the Fanconi syndrome.We studied the mechanisms of impaired reabsorption in human proximal tubular epithelial cells (PTEC) deficient for cystinosin and investigated the endo-lysosomal compartments of cystinosin-deficient PTEC by means of light and electron microscopy. We demonstrate that cystinosin-deficient cells had abnormal shape and distribution of the endo-lysosomal compartments and impaired endocytosis, with decreased surface expression of multiligand receptors and delayed lysosomal cargo processing. Treatment with cysteamine improved surface expression and lysosomal cargo processing but did not lead to a complete restoration and had no effect on the abnormal morphology of endo-lysosomal compartments. The obtained results improve our understanding of the mechanism of proximal tubular dysfunction in cystinosis and indicate that impaired protein reabsorption can, at least partially, be explained by abnormal trafficking of endosomal vesicles.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0120998
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 26 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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