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Höppner, Stefanie; Kinting, Susanna; Torrano, Adriano A.; Schindlbeck, Ulrike; Bräuchle, Christoph; Zarbock, Ralf; Wittmann, Thomas and Griese, Matthias (2017): Quantification of volume and lipid filling of intracellular vesicles carrying the ABCA3 transporter. In: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-Molecular Cell Research, Vol. 1864, No. 12: pp. 2330-2335

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The ABCA3 lipid transporter is located in the limiting membrane of lamellar bodies (LBs) in type-II-pneumocytes. Mutations within the ABCA3 gene may functionally impair the transporter, causing lung diseases in newborns, children and adults. Assays to quantify volume and lipid filling of the LBs on the level of the vesicular structures and thereby assess the function of ABCA3 are still lacking. In the present study human influenza haemagglutinin- (HA-) tagged wild type and mutant ABCA3 proteins were stably expressed in lung A549 cells. Fluorescently-labelled TopFluor phosphatidylcholine (TopF-PC) incorporated in surfactant-like liposomes was delivered to the cells and visualized by confocal microscopy. Subsequently, a comprehensive image analysis method was applied to quantify volume and fluorescence intensity of TopF-PC in ABCA3-HA-positive vesicles. TopF-PC accumulated within the vesicles in a time and concentration-dependent manner, whereas the volume remained unchanged, suggesting active transport into preformed ABCA3 containing vesicles. Furthermore, this finding was supported by a decrease of the fluorescence intensity within the vesicles when either the ATPase of the transporter was inhibited by vanadate, or when a disease-causing mutation (K1388N) close to the ABCA3-nucleotide binding domain 2 was introduced. Conversely, a mutation (E292V) located in the first cytoplasmic loop of ABCA3 did not significantly affect lipid transport, but rather resulted in smaller vesicles. In addition to these findings, the assay used in this work for analysing the PC-lipid transport into ABCA3 positive vesicles will be useful to screen for compounds susceptible to restore function in mutated ABCA3 protein.

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